India Snubs Fest Hit 'The Lunchbox,' Submits 'The Good Road' for Oscar

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by Anne Thompson
September 21, 2013 3:08 PM
9 Comments
  • |
'The Good Road'

I was rooting for India to submit Ritesh Batra’s Sony Pictures Classics pick-up "The Lunchbox," a warm Mumbai romance starring Irrfan Khan that cut a swath on the festival circuit from Cannes to Telluride and Toronto. But no, The Film Federation of India committee went another way with its official foreign language Oscar entry. They selected relatively unknown Gujarati-language road movie "The Good Road" from first-timer Gyan Correa amid a barrage of negative reaction. 

Produced by India’s National Film Development Corporation, the film premiered in July at the London Indian Film Festival and later won the National Film Award for a Gujurati film. 

Batra tweeted: “Heartbroken. We could have gone the distance we were told by our U.S. distributors, by the Hollywood press…”

I have not seen "The Good Road." But "The Lunchbox" had a real shot. This underscores the need for the Academy to revamp the foreign language category, which has been stuck for years. One of the problems of letting individual foreign countries make the call is that they are often myopic if not corrupt and do not necessarily select the film that might best compete against other films for the Oscar. 

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9 Comments

  • rameshram | September 30, 2013 1:30 PMReply

    http://moifightclub.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/film-federation-of-indias-letter-to-ritesh-batra-on-oscar-controversy/

  • Sandhira | September 23, 2013 1:21 AMReply

    India's official entry to Oscar a Gujarati film "The Good Road" - http://entertainment.sandhira.com/indias-official-entry-to-oscar-a-gujrati-film-the-good-road.html

  • Ramesh | September 22, 2013 6:27 PMReply

    um.. yay?

    (the indians know what they want to send to the oscars...its not what the company sircar in hollywood wants them to send....Tremondous respect for leela sampson (the head of the indian censor board and the government owned film financing body NFDC which produces Awesome Awesome films over the years, in face of the crap produced by hollywood financed "multiplex" film companies.)

  • Julia Chasman | September 21, 2013 3:42 PMReply

    Anne -- this is such an oft-cited issue (unhappiness with the rules of the Foreign Film category at AMPAS), but I wonder why the press thinks that solutions would be so simple!

    One of the hallmarks of the AMPAS category (which only came into existence after BICYCLE THIEF was given an honorary Oscar after achieving undeniable world-class status) is that each country submits only one film to represent itself. This is no small consideration, creating the need in today's world to view and judge a massive number of films fairly. In the British Academy, BAFTA, there is no such system. Their Foreign Language Films category is open, resulting in a preponderance of films from the countries with the most developed film industries, like France or Italy, and often the category will include more than one film from one country. So, there may be NO film from India or Sri Lanka considered, or any of the smaller nations where fewer films are made. Much less diversity is seen there, but maybe it's more fair? They simply have different goals in the category.

    But if we want to keep the awesome number of films in consideration which makes our Academy's Foreign Film Oscar so special (and so coveted) -- how would we choose the submissions from other countries? Clearly we can't be responsible for picking the films from another country. Nor can we monitor how other countries choose their submissions.

    I'd be curious to hear what other readers think the problems are in the system, since this is such a contentious issue -- but urge people to remember that the Academy is a private institution of members who give awards which have become of great interest to the public at large. But at the end of the day, AMPAS is responsible for abiding by the rules it sets, and in the case of this category, the logistics are daunting.

  • Ramesh | September 22, 2013 6:51 PM

    I don't see any problem. Anurag kashyap can STILL submit the film as a private entry. one or two films from india have done so in the past.

  • molly james | September 21, 2013 3:33 PMReply

    my Aunty Brianna got an almost new red Jeep Cherokee
    SUV from only working part time on a computer... go to this website........gg.gg/hgqi

  • Veronica Dreyer | September 21, 2013 3:32 PMReply

    There is a real problem with the Indian selection committee - and admittedly with some other selection committees, but what would be the solution? It's obviously impossible for the Academy to look at enough films coming out of each country to make a selection. And just making a selection from the films released in the U.S. is a real disservice to smaller countries that don't have the financial backing to make a real theatrical run here. The category was originally started to give a boost to film industries around the world and to some extent it still does that. When the Peruvian film The Milk of Sorrow was nominated a few years ago, the Peruvian government became more willing to free up some money for film production. And I imagine that the good response that Wadjda has been getting in the U.S. and at festivals will make it easier for the next Saudi Arabian film to be made. I'd hate to see that go away.

  • Andrej | September 21, 2013 3:55 PM

    But I don't really know if it's a matter of a flawed system, moreso than the comittees's fault for not picking the best movie they have to represent them. Still, who knows -- Bullhead wasn't a popular pick back in the day, either. And well, there's always the Golden Globes to right where the comittees have wronged (like when Chile didn't submit The Maid).

  • Squasher88 | September 21, 2013 3:42 PM

    I agree with Veronice Dreyer. The current system is flawed, but I guarantee you...leave it up to the Academy and the category will basically become Best French Film.

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