Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) has some grave reservations about Pan Nalin’s Gujarati film Last Film Show (Chhello Show) being selected as India’s official entry for the Oscars.
The FWICE have observed that this year’s nomination of the film ‘Chhello Show’ as India’s Official Entry to the 95th Oscar Award is not as per the usual norms .The FWICE questions the film’s eligibility as they allege that the film is not an Indian production.
States the FWICE, “We strongly feel that the selection process was not thoroughly followed. We have nothing against the producers and makers of the film which has been nominated but at the same time the real successors of this award cannot be left in dilemma.Official selection of an Indian film means produced by Indian companies. This year’s selection of Chhello Show seems questionable. This film is primarily produced by foreign studios and most of the crew is also from foreign countries. Its major producers Orange Studios are foreign studio.”
They also claim that Chhello Show is an old film,available on a foreign website for some years now. “This film has been on their site for few years. It’s only recently some Indian companies did a deal for this film for its Indian release. Does that qualify it as an Indian film? With that criterion, in the future any foreign production can tie up for distribution with an Indian company and call it an Indian film. Is it in the interest of Indian producers?”
Another allegation levelled at the film by the FWICE is that of plagiarism.
Says the FWICE, “There are some very serious allegations against the film that it’s inspired/copied from Oscar winner Cinema Paradiso. And prima facie, if we look at the poster and synopsis there are uncanny similarities between both. This is a very serious allegation because in the past (Gully Boys) India was humiliated when Oscar committee rejected that film as plagiarized from 8MM. Are we making the same mistake again because Oscar is very strict about the originality and even slightest of similarities disqualify a film. This is important for Indian Cinema’s honor, prestige and integrity.”
FWICE also questions the timeline for Chhello Show’s eligibility. “The film was premiered on June 2021. How is it qualified for 2022 films? What are the FFI’s rules? If this is the case then it’s not an equal opportunity competition and would be an injustice to the other successors of real Indian Films who are the real claimants of the Oscar selections.The chairman of the jury T S Nagabharana has given an official statement in Bombay Times that this film was also considered last year. How is it possible for a film to enter twice? What is criterion for qualification? If it was even considered last year, why is it getting a second chance? This technicality has to be made clear and FFI must explain why this concession is given?We therefore are making an appeal to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to take serious note of this issue. We suggest that as this decision of nominating a film for Oscar constitutes the dignity of the Film Industry, the Ministry should take over the entire process of nominating the film and should not allow an organization to do so.”
An official rejoinder from the Film Federation of India which selects India’s Oscar entry each year, is awaited.