Written by Shekhar Kapur
As the media frenzy behind the Oscars hots up, and the contenders are exhausted by the publicity, marketing, partying, and hype enforced upon them, it is good to sit back and take a clear picture of what is really going on behind the scenes and the incredible hype of the Oscars.
First the contenders who spend 3 months eating drinking and breathing the Oscar hype. Most of them forced to do so by their distributors, publicists and their film distributors. Soon they are so exhausted that all their speeches sound the same and they use the same ‘key words’ again and again in their interviews. After a while they start believing in their own key words and their own hype ! Believe me I have been there.
But who are the people that decide. Who is behind the Academy of Motion Pictures that put out what is essentially one of the most lucrative TV franchises in the world ? Lets divide the Academy into those that are working and those that are not. Those that are working rarely see film in theatres but on DVD’s, so do not get a clear idea of the intentions of the film maker. Many do not even see the films and vote on basis of the media hype. That is why Studio’s spend so much money on Oscar campaigns. Knowing as they do that Academy members are influenced by reviews and by media hype. Like normal people. In fact the Academy had to publish a booklet warning distributors/producers and studio heads not to over hype their Oscar campaigns. That was aimed at Harvey Weinstien without naming him after his campaign for Shakespeare in Love.
Then there are those that are not working, retired comfortably or not so comfortably in retirement homes. Since you are an Academy Member for a lifetime, the average age of the Academy tends to veer towards the older, and especially as the retired have the time to see the films and fill in the voting papers. There is no compulsion to vote. I am a member, but since I do not manage to see all the films in theatres, or even on DVD, I do not vote. How do you see a hundred odd films every year, and be fair to all of them ?
That is why the journey of Slumdog Millionaire has been incredible. It is not a film that was over-hyped, nor the kind of film that would be considered Oscar worthy. It is a film who’s time had come. It was a film that broke all the rules and brought something fresh and culturally different to jaded Academy viewers. It got them to sit up and watch as Rahman’s uplifting score bashed away over images of poverty and opression, and the kids seemed to dance with their eyes to that score even under the most extreme circumstances. Just for it’s freshness and experience of new cultures it deserves every success it is getting. And Danny Boyle has done that before – his compassionate view of drug addiction in Scotland in Trainspotting still holds as a ground breaking film.
Today I leave for a retreat and unlike the rest of the world I am not going to watch the Oscars. But I think it will walk away with 7 Oscars. I will be disappointed if it does not. But is the best film of the year ? That I cannot say as I have not even seen all the nominated films. But I know how I reacted to Waltz with Bashir. It had a tremendous emotional impact on me.