Wednesday, September 23, 2009

National Film Awards.... Jai ho!!

Southern sensibilities score over Sarson da Sagas….


There is reason to rejoice, after several years of stupefying selections at the 55th National Film Awards, finally the latest list provides some measure of optimism. There was a time when lovers of good cinema would pin their hopes on these prestigious awards, believing they were the only ones that cared for quality cinema and shunned the crass commercialization of Bollywood films. Fans also believed these awards were fair and reflected the honest opinions of jury members, without prejudice. At some point, even these awards collapsed in the face of populist pressures and were reduced to being seen as just one more meaningless recognition - another trophy to add to the collection.This year, the awards have gotten back at least a little of the lost glory and sheen. More importantly, they have regained credibility and redeemed the tainted reputation. Jai ho!!
I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears as I watched the news announcing this year’s winners. What??? No big, fat Bollywood blockbuster? No superegos? No scandal or controversy?? I listened as third time winner Prakash Raj, (best actor award), made a modest and sincere sounding speech, without strutting around smirking and crowing, “ I am the best!” I can’t wait to watch ‘Kanchivaram’, Priyadarshan’s award winning movie which he admitted candidly he’d made for himself, after a string of commercial films.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan, that brilliant director from Kerala, whose work I have long admired ( so has the discerning world, the one that exists outside Bollywood’s spell), won for ‘Nellu Pennungal’. This is his 9th National Award. And yet, ask around and check how many film- goers have heard of this genius or watched any of his movies. I am not aware of Umashree or her work, I am ashamed to admit, but would love to catch, ‘Gulabi Talkies’ to see her award- winning performance in it.
Even the ‘new, improved’ National Awards couldn’t afford to snub Bollywood or ignore it totally. A terrific compromise formula has obviously been arrived at so that nobody feels left out. This includes the creation of fresh (comical, according to me) categories, such as ‘Best Family Welfare’ award ( pray, what exactly does that mean?) for ‘Taarey Zameen Par’. While Yashraj was given the ‘consolation prize’ curiously titled “Best Film in Overall Entertainment’ ( if you please!), for ‘Chak de, India.”
Now that the biggies are behind us, here’s hoping equally good sense prevails when India selects a movie to send to the Oscar’s ( first round of the screening process). Films that reflect the true social ethos of our lives and not some completely bizarre, OTT representation that passes for ‘entertainment’ are the ones we should be short listing in the first place. Sure Bollywood produces hugely entertaining masala movies, and I adore the original formula. But if we want to compete in the international arena, it is important to focus on films that are relevant, powerful and cinematically excellent – content-wise and otherwise. This year’s national award- winning movies meet all critical criteria. I hope and pray, we have the good sense, judgement and courage to send a ‘Nallu Pennungal’ or a ‘Kanchivaram’ or a ‘ Gulabi Talkies’ as our choice. India stands a far better chance with any well-crafted regional film than with the slick, glossy, superficial junk that has been sent for the past few years, accompanied by the usual big noise even before the actual selection process has begun. Though frankly, why we obsess over the Oscars remains a mystery to me.
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I have mixed feelings about Rani Mukherjee’s latest avatar. Rani is a terrific actress – I’d put her in the Kaajol category. Does she really need to reinvent herself in order to stay in the race and compete against the Kareenas and Katrinas?? Khair, if her new ‘fit and toned’ self makes her feel better, why not? But Rani in a bikini top makes no sense. It is a lousy brand fit that goes completely against her USP. However, it’s the market that rules. My gut feeling tells me the Shahid-Rani combo is going to work big time. Both are talented, ‘wholesome’ actors capable of delivering high voltage performances, if the project and positioning are right. We shall know soon enough.

37 comments:

Saurabh Panshikar said...

Totally agree with you. Rani is out of the league of the current actresses. trying to "reinvent" to "fit in" is just compromise!

Pankaj said...

This year's Oscar entry is Harishchandrachachi factory..

cmpershad said...

These sarakari awards only show- kis mein hain kitna dum! But this year, it appears a fresh breeze of art appreciation has come among the so called art judges and hence some sensible selection. May be, to keep the dadas of bollywood in good humour some `fresh' awards have been instituted for those 'they also ran' category:)

ZB said...

For once, i completely second you. Very well put. Priyadarshan has lost himself in Bollywood. One should watch his malayalam movies of 80s or 90s...sheer brilliance. The man has it in him.Get back Priyan..you have had enough of fooling around.

Hari:ഹരി said...

A small correction Shobha. The 'Best Director' award that Adoor got was for his film titled 'Nalu Pennungal" meaning 'Four women', and not Nellu Pennungal". In Malayalam, Nalu = four and pennungal = women. The story lines have been taken from (or based on) four stories written by the Jnanapeeth award winner Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai.

maglomaniac said...

Oscars generally seem to me as a goofup while sending entries from India.Rather than sending a BLACK we are contented with a Paheli,and we give the stupid duhai of traditional bullshit galore.
And I felt Shahid seemed a lot sexier even after Rani's over the top golden T-O-P look.

~Harsha

kala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kala said...

You have written a brilliant piece about this year's National Awards. For Oscars, we must send regional films which are original and enduring. We may win or not, but the satisfaction of sending the right film will be there. As for bollywood films, they are masalas. Even the so called classy ones.

priya Chavan said...

Hi Shobha,

I belong to the camp which believes that Rani needed this make-over.I was tired of seeing her everywhere clad in a saree and acting like complete behenji.That style worked for Sridevi, but would'nt have worked for Rani.

Antarman said...

How could you say that Kanchivaram has content all without watching it?

mahatru said...

You seem to be too impressed by Rani

I never liked her specially her dressing style is just the same. Wahi same bold color clothes so funky....i wonder who wears such suits in Punjab. Generally all Punjabanns wear very classy suits :)

Regards
Regards
movies in Hyderabad
movies in Chennai
movies in Bangalore

kala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Black said...

Yeah...Rani Mukherji's a kinda actress who doesn't have to do such stuff to keep herself in the rat race....Maybe her earlier few movies didn't do so well...but this sort of a change may hinder her own indivuduality...

pooja raathore said...

Dear SD,
UmaShree is a well known kannada film actress( fantastic at her job mostly into character roles not leading heroine , she has been in the industry for very long time definetely more than a decade or two) Iam from Bangalore so I know she is known for her good work in kannada films (she has also done movies in other languages).Prakash Raj is also very good actor do u know he was college dropout and use to spend most of time in theatre work(long back Times had written an article about him) he has come a long way.
Iam amazed you keep track of every important thing be it politics , films or just about anything i think just being in your company (so what if it is through blog and your Books) one can learn a lot you are my favourite and Iam proud of my choice. will watch kanchivaram i usually never gave a thought about movies winning National awards as most of time not many know there names(no publicity) or probably the movies must be boring..in any case from hereonwards wil definetely look into it.
Your article on MR Tharoor good one.About YSR article not many are keenly into knowing about politics or whats happening around the low turn out during elections tells a lot honestly i too did not give much about news and newspapers or politics but after i read Speed Post long back(where u advice your children to take intrest about whats going around...it made sense) i make it a point know whats going around and be an involved citizen.

Vikram said...

Honestly, I think a majority of us would prefer going to a Bollywood masala movie (including me), than an award-winning 'art' movie.

For me going to a movie is more of a stress-buster and a time-pass. The bollywood movies serve the purpose.

Rajesh said...

Hi Shobhaa,

You are right, this time National Awards judges have created a record of sorts... no doubt all the movies that have won awards stand apart. Girish Kasaravalli is one of the finest Kannada directors all his movies win award in one or the other way... Girish has the ability to get the best out of an actor... hence today Umashri has won accolades (no doubt Umashri is a very good actress.

Rajesh

Prasun Kulshrestha said...

wow! One day i will also become the writer, someone will make a movie with me, and i will definately win a prize too! No obstacle can stop me, no matter if someone help me or not, god will help for sure.....

momsutistickid said...

Shobha, Am not computer-savvy, so don't know how to get in touch with you. Just a general comment, not specific to this blog entry. I love reading your blog. I live in Canada, so keep in touch with all things Indian through your blog. Write frequently and keep going!

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Rani is a terrific actress And she has her own category.
Brilliant voice quality And The smile - kya baat hai.
Yes, Acting of course spontaneous natural talent.
A Break And reinvention is important to stay for another 3-5 years to compete.
Any combo is excellent if actors naturally justify script instead of acting.

Gajendra said...

both prakash rai and umashree are from karnataka.....both are great actors

Jigyasa said...

Agreed! This time it wasn't for the Bollywood biggies but yes they got some consolation prizes here & there...

About Rani! Indeed I too am not convinced with the glamorization being done for trying it as a hit formula. Rani doesn't need that at all. Moreover, Hadippa is a remake of 'She is the Man' of course with the Indian tadka.

Latha said...

Hi Shobhaa,
I had terribly missed 'Kanchivaram' when it was shown in Vijay TV. I made a note of seeing it everyday but 'ain Waqt par' it somehow skipped my mind. Your post just brought back all the regrets.
The lengthy picturisation of the winning of 'Kaun banega crorepati' in Slumdog is a straight lift from a Malayalam movie, 'One man show' (2001). The boy jumping into the shithole & rising with a photo is a lift from another Malayalam movie.
Looks like Danny Boyle has seen quite a number of Malayalam movies before making & getting 'Oscar' for his 'original' Slumdog....
Malayalees keep mum. Generally South Indians don't protest.
Many Malayalam movies are Oscar worthy, esp., the likes of 'Kunjikkoonan' which was remade in Tamil as 'Perazhakan' which tells about how a hunchback can win over a girl with his sincerity & never say die attitude. A real entertainer as well if you can understand Tamil.
Of course, ‘Naalu Pennungal’ will be shown in Asianet or Surya & I'm not going to miss it.
‘Taarey Zameen Par’ is okay, I guess.

Sameer said...

Can't agree more on regional films quality and content. I always enjoyed my regional films (marathi movies), especially after they got out of the stereotypical 'tamasha' brand or 'maherachi saadi' types. I do believe regional films handle the sensitive and bold topics very effectively. I recently watched a marathi movie 'Devrai' which focussed on Schizophrenia and issues associated with it.Another marathi movie 'Athaang' deals with homosexuality and Indian society. Both movies - wonderfully scripted and acted by talented artists. Why can't we think of such regional films for sending it to Oscars and not just 'feel good' types movies.

Nandini said...

Rani is no actress! Her dialog delivery is so constructed, it's almost as if she is forcing her efforts to be known, more than to be shown. Acting should be effortless...take Sridevi for eg..excellent timing all the time.

Ketaki... said...

Hey Shobha,

Firstly, had you written this post earlier? Because you say here that you wonder what movie will these people send for Oscars but I thought I read somewhere that you mentioned that you are happy "Harishchandra chi factory" is going for Oscars. Or maybe its just me reading too many things i donno.
Well I am really happy that a marathi movie has again been chosen for Oscars. I often feel Maharashtrians never got their due in the movie Industry. They talk about kapoors and khans but 'Ghatis' have always been pioneers of Cinema. If it wasn't for Phalke, there would have been no Bollywood in the first place. Well I am diverting from the topic here. I actually want to say is that we have been making wonderful marathi movies since a long time. Unfortunately, we dont get the critical as well as commercial acclaim. Marathi movies do pay a price for Mumbai being a capital of "Bollywood". If Maharashtra was as averse to hindi as the southern states, our films would not have to suffer as much.
Now see, I never heard you talking about Dilip Prabhavalkar the way you talked about Prakash Raj. And hey, Mr.Prabhavalkar has appeared in some pretty interesting Bollywood movies. (read Munnabhai and Sarkar raj)
Well, finally I just hope "Harishchandrachi factory" gets a good opening in Maharashtra. I also hope they produce enough DVDs so that I can atleast hope to get one in LA.. :(
I hate US for the only fact that I can never watch Marathi movies in theatres.

Oh on your second part about Rani Mukherjee, Shobhaa you are so biased towards Bengalis.. :P i am kidding, I don't begrudge you for liking Rani or for that matter Shahid. One of my friends liked Emran Hashmi, I think I can take anything after that. ;) :)

kala said...

Only Tamilnadu was against the imposition of hindi and spearheaded anti hindi agitations. Karnataka and Hyderabad are more cosmopolitan and screen hindi films. In Bangalore, tamil, telugu and hindi movies attract heavy audience. Now even in Chennai, most of the theatres in Anna Saalai(Mount Road) hindi and hollywood movies give competition to local tamil movies. Though from Karnatak, Prakash Raj earned more fame and awards in telugu and tamil movies. We must appreciate the rise of the regional cinema but we should not become too chauvanistic. In this regard, hindi films bond Indians of all hues.

kala said...

This website aslibaat.com provides us with Khalid's film review(which I enjoy more than the movies) and Vkram Bhatt's musings where he wondered why Subhash K. Jha wrote such a vitriolic piece about Rani. This same Jha is writing so many supporting and sympathetic pieces(not articles) about one Rai. Is there a connection between these write ups?

you are the light of the world said...

hi,
i agree with u.

you are the light of the world said...

hi,
Similar interests, mutual respect and strong attachment with each other are what friends share between each other. These are just the general traits of a friendship.
To experience what is friendship, one must have true friends, who are indeed rare treasure.

I have added you to my blogroll, hope you can do the same thing for me so that we can have constant communication.

Peter Williams Amalraj said...

@Latha..

I quite agree with you.. Generally south indians don't protest.. Hmm.. in a ways we are forced to be this way. Be it in any field, South Indians are quite looked down. May be it's their dark skin or lesser known hindi population which deprives them of most of the privileges they deserve.. On a personal note i found my SSB interviews a 'live' example. When the whole of the crowd was comfortable in Hindi, my 'quite' good english with a neutral accent did me no good but left me feeling odd in amongst the crowd where the 'northern indian' accentuated English was predominant.. Coming to cinema.. the Bollywood always wants everything "BIG".. But Quantity doesn't equal quality..Bollywood tries to compare itself with hollywood and work with the pre-concieved notion that Hollywood is the best !!! No doubt, Hollywood is the best but not the 'only' best ?? Do you think SDM is a masterpiece ??? Or Sean Penn who went on to lip-lock with other males on screen is the only greatest ??..
Only when these prejudices are out we could compete on a healthy note.. until then, ,we are forced to numb..

BTW.. I don't intend to fan any flames of hostility between the north and south but it's deplorable fact that "Truth is always bitter than the sweeter lie"..

Latha said...

Thanks Amalraj,
But we can be proud of the fact that Priyan's "Hera Pheri" - remake of Malayalam "Ramji Rao speaking", "Hulchul" (Mal: Godfather)& other films like "Biwi o Biwi" (Tam: Chathi Leelavati), Kamal's "Chachi 420 (Tam: Ouvvai Shanmukhi)....I can go on & on & on.... were all great hits in Hindi. As you say, Bollywood went to Switzerland instead of our Tam team going to Bangalore.
Though Hindi 'Satya' which was a straight lift of Kamal's Tamil 'Satya' became a great hit, we never protested.
As for SDM, if it had been made in Malayalam, it would've been considered as an average movie 'cause it'd've paled in comparison with other mallu movies for sure !

victor said...

@Latha...'google' tells me Kamal's Sathya is a remake of sunny deol starrer 'Arjun'. maybe you should double check before making wild allegations. Go easy on 'Pride' :)

Gajendra said...

@amal and @latha,

Guys....I know very well that you guys are merely stating the facts.

But you are demeaning the facts by putting them up in a forum like this wherein people get a chance to denigrate it.

So please apply prudence and don't give chance to people to denigrate the worth of our part of the country

Peter Williams Amalraj said...

@ Gajendra..

We(south indians) are quite used to this kind of 'denigration'.. afterall as usual we have no other go but to force ourselves to stay numb..But i think whoever who applies prudence would definitely agree South Indians are sidelined..

Also in my previous comment i 've clearly mentioned my stand in the last line.. Now that i 'll leave it to the individual's integrity who tries to 'demean' or divert the course of argument..

nishitak said...

Looks like your guesstimate was wrong. Dil Bole hadippa sucked so badly and rightly tanked at the box office.

I tink Rani should really rethink these run-of-the-mill movies from the Yash Chopra factory...

nishitak said...

Umm...if you check the dates of movie releasem you can make out that Arjun is a copy of Satya

maha said...

ya true facts...

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