Film industry divided on India’s Oscar chances

The selection of a low-budget arthouse Gujarati film Chhello Show as India’s official entry to the Academy Awards has left the movie industry divided.

Lata Jha
First Published6 Oct 2022
Gujarati film Chhello Show is India’s official entry to the Academy Awards. (Photo: Twitter @AnilKapoor)
Gujarati film Chhello Show is India’s official entry to the Academy Awards. (Photo: Twitter @AnilKapoor)

NEW DELHI: The selection of a low-budget arthouse Gujarati film Chhello Show as India’s official entry to the Academy Awards has left the movie industry divided and not too hopeful of the country’s chances at the Oscar next year. Not only is the film a remake of a 1988 foreign movie Cinema Paradiso, critics and trade experts say the West is far more fascinated by India’s large-scale colourful action spectacles with song-and-dance than these slow-burn films. Moreover, producers of these commercial potboilers that are never sent as official entries, also have the bandwidth and resources to market the film in the US, a task that SS Rajamouli’s RRR, also in the running, had already begun.

“Films like RRR and KGF have proven that India no longer lags behind Hollywood as far as scale and action go. The former has been watched and is known across the world, including places such as Australia and Canada,” film producer and distributor Sunny Khanna said explaining why sending an unknown film is akin to killing the country’s chances at the Oscars.

Commercial Indian films like RRR have received much praise from western filmmakers, actors and critics, said Mitesh Kothari, co-founder and chief creative officer of digital agency White Rivers Media. “To support the film at the Oscar awards, we have seen massive campaigns for nominations in categories including Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Cinematography and more. Campaigning for awards is all about spreading the love for films, having artistic conversations and celebrating cinema. Marketing is a major catalyst behind a film’s worldwide recognition. Such high-flier Indian movies have significantly penetrated the western world and have come very close to nominations in the prestigious awards, where the best movies across the world participate,” Kothari said.

To be sure, costs of marketing a film for the Oscars, according to many industry experts, could range from 15-20 lakh to several crores. Teams have to go camp in Los Angeles as early as October and possibly stay there up to February when the ceremony happens, staying close to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and possibly hiring auditoriums in the headquarter to hold screenings.

The second-most important step is to hire the right publicity team. While individual agents are willing to negotiate depending on exactly how long you need their services and how far ahead you make it in the race, a top publicist may even end up with as much as 10 crore. The third step would be to get featured on all, or most, important media outlets-print, radio, television and digital, as part of a promotional campaign that ideally, should result in a full-fledged theatrical release in at least some parts of the US. Further, the most important aspect of running the Oscar foreign film race is making sure the entire jury watches your film. Filmmakers must either organize screenings or send DVDs of the film to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organization of journalists and photographers that reports on the entertainment industry in the US.

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