One can endlessly debate whether Pan Nalin is Chello Show is a better movie than Rajamouli’s RRR because, well, art is subjective. But when it comes to the Oscars, the buzz surrounding a film plays a big role in deciding whether it wins the prize – which, according to Varietywas very likely in case of RRR. The film received praise from a large part of the global audience after its premiere on Netflix. Everyone – from Indians at home to critics – mostly white men on Twitter with blue ticks, seemed to like it. strange doctor Screenwriter C. Robert Cargill called the film “the craziest and weirdest blockbuster”, while Best Screenplay Golden Globe winner Larry Karaszewski said in the context of the film: “Those who say cinema is dead don’t look in the right places.”
RRR had already managed to get foreign audiences and critics talking, which is no small feat. The battle was half won, and the film had already been noticed – in fact, loved by international audiences. Why, then, the Film Federation of India chose to go ahead and select a film, which might be a cinematic masterpiece in its own right, but certainly hasn’t been so talked about and discussed that RRR, is a mystery.
Some Twitterati went so far as to call Chello Show the jury’s “personal entry” at the Oscars because it didn’t seem to resonate with moviegoers. This was particularly shocking because publications like Variety (who often gets his predictions from Oscar) and well-known American filmmakers encouraged him. Some have even speculated that RRR could break India’s Oscar drought and win multiple Oscars.
The snub is therefore a bitter pill to swallow. Isn’t FFI aware of the fatigue and exhaustion of the race for the Oscars? This requires campaigning similar to elections, sending screeners to voting members, soliciting screenings, sending out marketing invitations, making public appearances and, most importantly, money that one can only get if the film is backed by a studio that can invest millions in the campaign. Why, then, was RRRbacked by DVV Entertainment, was not cast over Chello Show who had a modest budget?
With the advent of social media, winning an Oscar is an uphill battle. Voting members might accidentally discover RRR but given the volume of submissions, they’re unlikely to watch the three-hour visual spectacle. The Best International Feature Film nomination is therefore the best way to get a film noticed by the Oscar jury, as they will surely have to watch all the nominated films to decide. If the movie is good enough, it might just win an award in major categories like Best Picture or Best Director, much like Bong Joon Ho’s. Parasite. Oscar snubbed for Rajamouli and co. honestly seems like a missed opportunity.
Would have RRR won big had he scored the nomination? No one can say for sure. But with industry honchos and directors predicting multiple Oscars for Rajamouli’s magnum opus, he would surely have put in at least one that would surely have put Indian cinema on the world map like never before. In a statement to Indian Express, FFI Chairman TP Aggarwal clarified that Chello Show was chosen unanimously by the 17 members of the jury. There is no mention or clarity about who the 17 members of the jury were and how they were chosen in the first place. Ideally, the list of names of the members of the jury who choose the films for Oscar nominations should be available in the public domain for the sake of transparency. Since that’s not the case, the selection has come under even greater scrutiny on social media.
The film’s distributor Rajamouli, however, submitted RRR for the Oscars. As reported by Variety According to journalist Clayton Davis, the film is not yet available on the Academy Streaming Room, which is part of a strategy to get as many voters as possible to see it on the big screen in order to highlight its epic scale and breathtaking visuals. Rest assured, the marketing team and the studio should now double down on getting voting members to notice the movie.
In many ways, RRR Oscar snub is a reminder of the many times India’s jury faltered in narrowing down which film deserved the nomination. The lunch box (2013) and The Disciple (2020) are just a few of the jury’s many missteps in the recent past that haven’t been well received by moviegoers. The last Indian film to reach the bottom five in the Best International Feature category was Aamir Khan-starring Lagaan in 2001. The other two Indian films to reach the top five are mother india (1958) and Salam Bombay (1989).
Box RRR always score a nomination and subsequently a victory? We can’t be too sure. But the call from FFI surely got on the nerves of many Indians.
Deepansh Duggal is an entertainment, pop culture and trending writer based in New Delhi. He specializes in opinion pieces based on socio-political and gender issues in the world of entertainment and showbiz. He also writes explainers and occasionally reviews shows in the OTT space. He tweets at @Deepansh75.
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