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Why India chose Jallikattu for the Oscars

By SUBHASH K JHA
November 26, 2020 17:25 IST
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The Malayalam film Jallikattu has been selected to represent India in the Best International Feature Film category at the Academy Awards.

Visually lush and emotionally jolting, Jallikattu is -- in many ways -- representative of an aspect of cultural annihilation that Indian cinema seldom celebrates.

Rahul Rawail, who headed the Film Federation of India jury that made the selection, tells Subhash K Jha, "After viewing many films in many Indian languages, we found Jallikattu to satisfy all the requirements for eligibility."

"It is a film with deep roots in our culture. But it is also a universal story on the dehumanisation of mankind, when the beast within surfaces," Rawail explains.

"In that sense, it's the story that connects with every culture. It is also technically very sophisticated."

Would Rawail agree that some of the best films in India are coming from Kerala?

"Of course, Kerala is making wonderful films," Rawail replies. "But so are many other parts of the country, including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Assam... I see a diversity of films being made all over India, and it's a heartening scenario."

 

When his attention is drawn to some awful films that were up for eligibility as India's entry to the Oscars, Rawail is quick to point out that every film is entitled to the jury's consideration.

"Any film-maker can send his film for consideration. It is their right to do so. We are within our rights to select the film we think most worthy. And this year, it was Lijo Jose Pellissery's Jallikattu."

Every year India comes back empty handed from the Oscars.

Last year, Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy had been selected from India, but failed to get an Oscar nomination.

Rawail is hopeful. "We of the jury saw the merits in Jallikattu to make it to the Oscars. The rest will depend on what the competition is."

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