Mumbai, Sep 22 : “Village Rockstars” was selected as Indias official entry to the 91st Academy Awards on Saturday, following which members of the Film Federation of India (FFI) urged the Indian film industry and the government to promote the Assamese film for the final round.
The chairman of the committee S.V. Rajendra Singh Babu, also a veteran film producer, made the announcement.
Talking about the selection of the film, Anant Mahadevan, one of the members of the committee, said: “One of the criteria is that the film has to be rooted in India with a universal message. The film has to be professionally and technically well made with hardly any flaws to capture and a well-performed film.
“It was absolutely an unanimous decision. The film ‘Village Rockstars’ got votes of all the jury members unanimously. We are very proud of this film.”
As many as 28 films were shortlisted for India’s official entry to the Oscars. Some of the big budget Bollywood films like “Padmaavat”, “Raazi”, “Hichki” and “PadMan” along with some of the critically acclaimed movies like “Love Sonia”, “Manto”, “Kadvi Hawa” and “Gali Guleiyan” were also part of the list.
The selection committee also comprised directors G Neelakanta Reddy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee, cinematographer Ajayan Joseph Vincent and film editor Sanjay Sankla, among others.
But why do Indian films generally don’t make it to the final round of Oscars?
S.V. Rajendra explained: “Many Indian films reach there but because of their rules and perspectives, our films might not be eligible. The film which is selected from here should be properly presented at the Oscars, and that needs huge money.
“When a film goes there, we need at least Rs two crore to promote the film there, to present it to the Academy members. There are many processes, and we may be failing there.”
According to him, there is an acute lack of funds to carry out these processes effectively.
He added: “Last time the Maharashtra government had Rs one crore for ‘Shwaas’ (Marathi film). This time also, we at the Film Federation of India, want to write to the Assam government and the central government to contribute or create funds for the film.”
Mahadevan urged the film production houses to contribute funds to promote the film.
He said: “I think the process is easy. If most of the big production houses contribute at least Rs 10 lakh each, even if they contribute Rs five lakh, we can collect an amount of Rs three crore to promote the film at the Oscars.
“If we really believe in the film ‘Village Rockstars’ as the representative of our country, we should all garner funds and support to represent the film.”
Citing an example of government support in other countries, Mahadevan added: “In other countries, they make very few films and the government takes it upon them to promote those films.
“The government owns the film industry unlike here. Their government recommends the best film to represent on the big platform. Unfortunately, our government disowned the film industry.”
“Village Rockstars”, directed by Rima Das, won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film this year.
S.V. Rajendra Singh said: “It is impossible for independent and small producers to promote their film all by themselves. It is important that they receive funds to do so. It is important we follow these processes to reach all the Academy members and critics. Somebody has to be in New York for at least two months to follow up for the film, catching hold of critics and the press, international producers. All these things cost money.”
“We think ‘Village Rockstars’ has a very bright chance, and we think the government of India and the government of Assam should help the film. It is not a request, it is the film’s right. The government should be responsible and should come forward to help us.”
Meanwhile, Das is simply thrilled with the news.
“With tears of joy and a feeling of pride, I humbly accept this news. ‘Village Rockstars’ is India’s official entry to the Oscars! Let that sink in,” she tweeted.