The Oscars are considered to be the magnum opus of all movie awards. Any movie that is related or associated with it, immediately catches the attention of many across the globe.
Over the years, numerous films have been nominated or short listed in the ‘Best film In a Foreign Language’ category. However, none of them have been lucky enough to receive the prestigious award. There are some deserving movies, that did not even get short-listed.
Let’s take a look at which Bollywood films had a shot at achieving the Oscar:
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black was inspired by the struggling life of Helen Keller- a woman who was visually impaired and was impaired by hearing. Actress Rani Mukerji portrayed the role of Michelle McNally, a girl who could not see, hear nor speak. Her life was engulfed in darkness, and was therefore declared as ‘Black’. However, when Debraj Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan) enters as her teacher, he brings a ray of hope and light in Michelle’s life. Despite not being a commercial venture, Black did reasonably well at the box-office. Moreover, the movie won many accolades mainly for the novel concept, emotional quotients and award-winning performances of the entire cast and crew. It’s a real shame that Black did not get nominated nor short-listed for the oscars. I hope that the future for Bollywood movies at the oscars are not ‘Black’ too!
The yesteryear heart-throb Rajesh Khanna essays the titular role of Anand, a happy-go-lucky chap but is suffering from intestinal cancer. When Anand meets the blunt yet honest, Dr. Bhaskar (‘Babu Moshay’ to Anand) a bond of friendship is established. Rajesh Khanna’s award-winning performance is so powerful, that the audience completely engages with it- at one point, even I forgot that I was actually watching a movie. As such, when the character Anand laughed, the audience did too, and when he cried, the audience wept too. Anand won several awards in India and was also a success at the box-office. It is very unfortunate that it did not get recognised internationally as well.
The film is about Amol (Abhishek Bachchan), who abandoned his girlfriend, Vidya (Vidya Balan) during their college days, in order to pursue his political career. A few years later, he meets Auro (Amitabh Bachchan), who suffers from progeria. However, Amol is not aware that Auro is actually his son. In my opinion, the interesting thing about Paa was that real life father and son, Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan were playing the roles in reverse on celluloid! This was the first time that they did so, and how! Amitabh’ character was so heart-warming and his prosthetic make-up was done by Hollywood’s Christian Tinsley and Dommie Till, which was highly praised. Consequently, the became a critical success in India and gained profits. Despite being a movie depicting and emphasising the illness of progeria… Which had not been shown in any Bollywood film before, Paa was ignored at an international level.
The Dirty Picture (2011)
I first watched The Dirty Picture at the age of 16, and after watching it, I was surprised at how ‘clean’ the movie was, in terms of its concept and performances of the lead cast: Vidya Balan, Emraan Hashmi, Nasseruddin Shah and Tusshar Kapoor. I remember telling one of my friends I was going to watch the film, and they began laughing, “OMG! That movie seems pornographic!” When I walked out of the cinema I felt that film was not pornographic but it was pure entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. The movie is a biopic on the 80s South-Indian sex symbol, Silk Smitha- portrayed by Vidya Balan. Her risqué performance and sexy dialogue delivery evoked cheers and applauses within the audience at the cinema hall. Vidya Balan was praised as brave to depict such a bold role. The fact this film was path-breaking, it almost swept all the big awards in India. Its shocking that it did not sweep the oscars!
After her raunchy performance, Vidya Balan then donned a pregnant avatar in the psychological thriller, Kahaani. This movie narrates the story of Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) who embarks on a search for her missing husband in the city of Kolkata. Knowingly or unknowingly, she puts herself in a deadly trap. As the film unravels, the audience slowly discovers the actual ‘Kahaani’ (story) behind Vidya’s husband. Another highlight of this movie is the creation of the sadistic, cold-blooded serial killer, Bob Biswas (played by Saswata Chatterjee). In fact, when I first watched Kahaani, the characteristics of Bob reminded me of Javier Bardem as Anton Chingurh in No Country For Old Men. Furthermore, this fast-paced thriller gives the feel of a neo-noir thriller movie, therefore it appeals to audiences internationally.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
To begin with, Milkha Singh is known as ‘The flying Sikh’. The Indian athlete was the only Indian male athlete to win an individual athletics Gold medal in the Commonwealth Games till as recently as 2013. But that’s not all. Milkha Singh’s past was a lot more eventful, a lot more poignant and a lot more interesting. For me, the highlights of the movie were several. These including, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s almost perfect direction, Farhan Akhtar- along with the entire cast) emotion stirring performances, and of-course the 50-60s setting was created with perfection. Besides these things, there are a lot more wow-factors that would impress the international audiences!
Expectation from this year: Queen (2014)
I know it’s early to decide which film should go to the oscars, but I recently watched Vikas Bahl’s Queen, and I cannot express how impressed I was with this film. The first time I saw the trailer, I thought the film resembled ENGLISH VINGLISH, as this movie also portrayed the journey of a naïve Indian woman in a foreign country. However, when I watched the movie, I was pleasantly surprised especially with Kangana Ranaut’s superb performance! Queen is about 24-year-old Rani (Kangana Ranaut) who decides to spend an independent ‘honeymoon’ abroad, after being rejected by her fiancé Vijay (Rajkumar Rao), the night before. During Rani’s journey abroad, she encounters and experiences new and unique things. Thus, she becomes the “Queen” of her own life.
In conclusion, these were just a few movies which I felt that should have been nominated or short-listed at the oscars. But I’m sure the list is endless! However, I have realised, that despite being short-listed or nominated, epic movies such as, Mother India and Lagaan have NOT even won a single award. Despite this, Slumdog Millionaire swept the oscars. But does this count as ‘Bollywood’? The answer to this question remains a mystery till date!