Why Barfi! and not ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ for the Oscars?
“Barfi” was announced as India’s Official Entry to the Oscars recently, and that sparked of a heated debate. In every sense of the word, “Barfi” is indeed a beautiful film. It could make one choke up and still ensures that the smile just wouldn’t swipe off your face. “Barfi” was enjoyable, pleasurable and pristine – all at the same time. The film is having a fine rate of repeat audience and has been raking up huge moolah at the box-office.
But was it a good choice to be sent as a nomination for the Oscars? That will be a stern No. We give the film all its due credit, but the film fails to qualify the basic criteria of being Indian in essence. The film might not have been a product of plagiarism but it has heavily borrowed from various Hollywood films; which have inspired its conception and creation. The film despite having a great script and mesmerizing performances is not representative of Indian culture, ethnicity or Indian realities in any way.
“Paan Singh Tomar” on the other hand was relatively non publicized film. This film created ripples at a multitude of international film festival, including the London Film Festival and stars one of India’s Finest Actors, Irrfan Khan. This film holds evidence to the competent direction of Tigmanshu Dhulia, who has worked under veterans like Shekhar Kapur in “Bandit Queen”. Most critics lauded this film as a sheer little masterpiece. The pivotal reason why “Paan Sigh Tomar” should have been chosen over “Barfi” is essentially because of the Indian-ness quotient in it. The film very meticulously paints a picture of Indian realities, which most belonging to the ‘Mc-Donaldized’ India seem to overlook.
The film was biopic which tells the story of a medal bringing athlete who turned into a dreaded dacoit and throws light on the circumstances which led to it. The life of the real Paan Singh Tomar is tragic and curious, mostly interesting. The film very carefully blends tragedy, humor and drama to create an exquisite piece. Not to mention, Irrfan Khan’s compelling acting gives the film its added sheen. Biopics are stereotyped as boring cinema. And “Paan Singh Tomar” shatters the boundaries of cinematic genres by creating an enthralling film which will touch the hearts of each of its viewers and definitely not boring!
Reputed magazines and dailies including The New York Times, could not stop singing praises of Irrfan Khan’s performance, stating that he gave the film a romanticizing factor and yet maintaining the honesty and the depth of the film.
It is a shock that the Jury at the Film Federation of India could ignore a film of this stature. The film has fulfills every parameter of being selected as India’s official entry for the Oscars, rather it was better suited. This makes us question FFI’s sense of judgment and knowledge of real cinema. Is there power play involved? Or they simply rewarded a film with a greater publicity quotient? Choosing “Barfi” over “Paan Singh Tomar” was an indignant decision, to say the least! It is a sheer insult to perhaps one of the most brilliant creations of Indian Cinema. This skillful narrative has the ability to rise against every odd, and we perhaps failed to give India a solid chance at getting home an Oscar!