Skip to main content

India's Oscar Mania Starts

Mother India made by Mehboob Khan lost to Federico Fellini’s Night of Cabiria by (it is said) only one vote for the Best Foreign Language film award at the Oscars (1958). Now, we may go on and on discussing about the un/importance of Oscars Awards but the facts is that Oscar does stand for something. If not for brilliance in Cinematic effort, at least it is given for diplomatic prowess at selling the film. Frankly, I don’t think either Mehboob Khan or Fellini had sent their cronies to warm up to various Media agents and Movers and Shakers of Hollywood…the studios.The fact that Mother India went to Oscars does mean something. It’s like a holy orb around the movie. It’s after this orb that Indian film makers pretend to be running after but actually they are after the silverware to be found in the house of Hollywood studios. The holy orb for them translates into unholy better economic prospect for the movie…newer bigger movie deals.
I think sending a movie like Anurag Kashyap's Black Friday makes perfect sense or for a change any well made regional language film(by that I don’t mean ill fitted Jeans). But, they would probably won’t send any film instead they would send Aishwarya, she has been to the other mela why miss this one.
The people on the selection panel of FFI( for people like me who don't know-Film Federation of India) are smart; Trust them and they would get us the Oscar this year thanks to an insider deal between the Indian and the Us government. Give India an Oscar is a sub-clause in the 123 agreements. Why do you think the Left is peeved? The clause is killing the spirit of Ray, the true voice of Indian Cinema (forget his later year films with western sensibilities). The discussion sessions between the three governments i.e India, U.S and the Left, include the topic: Are Oscars  un/important?
Also read:
Indian Films and Foreign Film Festivals: A List
A comprehensive list of Indian Films that made their mark at Foreign Film Festivals.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Had a wonderful discussion about Satyajit Ray.
    These are the comments that were lost when the actual post vanished (thanks to my constant fiddling with the code of the blog). The post had to be republished with a new URL. Managed to retrieve the comments by fiddling with the comment feed.
    I didn't want to loose this one.


    With due respect and in my humble opinion, Ray's films were never westernised even in his later years. But yes! His films showed the effect of west on the life of an Indian. But I don't think that his film ever echoed western sensibilities. On the contray, it spoke against it. Watch his last, Agantuk for example!

    Hey thanks for the comment. I know you are a bit touchy about the subject of Ray; I was a witness to your duel with RK at PFC.The reason I used the word “westerner sensibilities” is because there was a time when to an intellectual which in turn meant Marxist Bengali, Ray was charged with being the “supreme representative of bourgeois culture” To quote from an article from Manas Magazine:
    "He had himself likened his films to the symphonies of Mozart. It is not merely the case that he had, as some people thought, a disdain for popular culture, since the Marxist aficionados of cinema were themselves not particularly fond of commercial cinema. Their hero was, and remains, Ritwik Ghatak, who made a handful of films, and was the cinematic poet of the partition; and similarly in the work of Mrinal Sen they found a director who was thought to be politically more sensitive. The 1960s and 1970s were a period of great political turmoil, and Ray was accused, as his friend Chidananda Dasgupta has written, of not showing a greater concern for the "Calcutta of the burning trains, communal riots, refugees, unemployment, rising prices and food shortages". No one would have known from Ray’s films that Bengal was the seat of an armed insurrectionary movement. On the other hand, films such as Jalsaghar, with its seemingly loving portrait of a zamindar who was the last specimen of a noble class of people who lived for music and displayed a refined aesthetic sensibility, seemed utterly reactionary.”

    Now, western sensibilities and bourgeois culture may be two separate terms, but I had Shtranj Ke Khilada and T.G Vaidyanathan’s reading of the film in mind when I wrote that. Frankly, “ western sensibility” is too vaporous a term to be thrown at Ray. He had his own set of sensibilities.

    Thank you very much Vinayak for your reply! I believe you haven't seen many films of Ray besides SKK. But, "Calcutta of the burning trains, communal riots, refugees, unemployment, rising prices and food shortages." Sorry. I tend to differ. I am giving you a list. He may not have shown "burning trains" in directly. But his cinematic symbols and expressions spoke more than that. And "refugees, unemployment, rising prices and food shortages?" I'm giving you a list: Please, please see their Wikipedia links and find out if they DIRECTLY TOUCHED those subjects or not:MAHANAGAR, PRATIDWANDI (it speaks about Naxals too!)SEEMABADDHA,ASHANI SANKET (severely direct!)JANA ARANYAGGBB, HIRAK RAJAR DESHE (in fantasy form)AGANTUK
    Please read about the film or even better, watch them! Then it'll be easier for you to decide.Thanks and cheers!

    You are right, I haven’t seen much of Ray’s work, as a kid, I read some of his fiction written in English. From your list, I have only seen Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, that too when I was a Kid…could barely manage to follow the subtitles, but I was fascinated.I really do need to watch more of his movies. That list of yours is really helpful. Thanks.

    You are most welcome.

  3. Managed to see AGANTUK recently (thanks to Lok Sabha Television (LSTV)! They show some wonderful movie on Saturday nights with a repeat telecast on the Sunday afternoon)
    I was surprised to see the way Satyajit Ray managed to weave philosophical meandering, discourse on culture, society et al into the story. Fascinating!
    Utpal Dutt was in his elements. Mamata Shankar was great. The scene, towards the end of the movie, when she dances to the tribal beats, is brought alive by her dancing. At first, I thought that the scene could have been edited out a bit but then slowly with the rising beats, the screen comes alive.
    Makes you wanna sit in front of the screen like a Kupa Mondok.


Post a Comment

I always like to hear back :)
However, irrelevant comments and irrelevant links will not be published. Needless to say, same goes for abusive comment and spam. Leaving back links related to the topic is encouraged. I know it can be tempting but try not to leave your email ids, phone nos and CVs in the comment.

Popular posts from this blog

Famous Old Faces of Doordarshan

Some people recall the faces and some people recall the names. Here are images of some of the famous readers and presenters of Doordarshan down the years. If you recognize any of them, leave a comment.
[Update 1: Most of the faces now have names thanks to helpful comments by olio-gallimaufry]
[Update 2: Included image of one of the earliest presenters, Gopal Kaul. Send in generously from personal collection by son, Ashutosh Kaul. Sept, 2010.]
[Major Update 3: Got a tip-off about a documentary about the famous faces of Doordarshan from the makersof“The Golden Trail , DD@50 :Special feature on Golden Jubilee of Doordarshan” from which these caps were taken. I managed to catch the incredible documentary and am adding some more faces/name and part of the docu here. New ones can be found after the image of Narotam Puri. 30th Oct, 2010]

 Pratima Puri. Believed to be the first Doordarshan reader.

Indian Cigarette Vintage Ads

He put a cigarette in his mouth and, as a matter of silent routine, offered one to Gwyn, who said ‘No thanks.”Richard looked at him.”I packed it in.”"You what?”"I stopped. Three days ago. Cold. That’s it. You just make the life choice.”

Richard looked up and inhaled needfully. He gazed at his cigarette. He didn’t really want to smoke it. He wanted to eat it. Almost the only thing that he still liked about Gwyn was that he still smoked…Paradoxically, he no longer wanted to give up smoking: what he wanted to do was take up smoking. Not so much to fill the little gaps between cigarettes with cigarettes (there wouldn’t be time, anyway) or to smoke two cigarettes at once. It was more that he felt the desire to smoke a cigarette even when he was smoking a cigarette. The need was and wasn’t being met…

While it would always be true and fair to say that Richard felt like a cigarette, it would now be doubly true and fair to say it. He felt like a cigarette. And he felt like a cigaret…

Kishore Kumar, Yodel-ay-ee-oooo Songs, A List

*Updated with corrections pointed out by Bart Plantenga, author of some incredible book on Yodeling including Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World.


Kishore Kumar's brother Anoop Kumar, who we basically know for the line 'O manu tera toh hua ab mera kya hoga', used to own lots of Austrian music records. And from these records, Kishore Kumar picked up the art of Yodel singing, an art perfected in bathroom and then introduced by him to the world of Hindi film music. According to his biography 'Kishore Kumar: method in madness‎ ' by Derek Bose, "Kishore was a fan of the Swiss singer Tex Norton [* Tex Morton, an Australian cowboy born in New Zealand who sang  in the gene autry / Jimmie Rodgers style] and the Australian Jimmy Rogers [*Jimmie Rodgers, perhaps the most American and one of the most famous yodelers in the world, famous for his blue yodels] as well."

Although most of these songs by Kishore Kumar are thought to be '…