It’s official.India’s entry to the 89th Academy Awards to be held in February 2017 is the Tamil film Visaranai directed by Vetrimaran. The hard hitting film about police brutality shocked audiences with its raw unvarnished portrayal of violence in police lock-up.
The selection of this true-life account as India’s official entry to the Oscars may confound those who believe ‘Bollywood ’ is poorly represented in the Oscar race.
But eminent director Ketan Mehta who headed the jury to select the Oscar this year disagrees. “We are very happy that we chose Visaaranai. It’s a raw and authentic depiction of the oppression and brutality that the poor are often subjected in any unequal social structure. Though it is a story rooted to Tamil Nadu we believe it has a universal resonance. The theme of oppression is connectible with any culture in any part of the world.”
Ketan who is in the throes of preparing for his next feature film the historical Rani Laxmibai with KangnaRanaut in the lead, says he has not seen such an excellent lineup of Oscar contenders in a very long time. “By the time we narrowed down the list to 8-9 films we were in a serious dilemma, as to which one to pick. Because all of them were almost equally outstanding. We had a really tough time zeroing in on one film.Finally, though, there was unanimity over the selection of Visaaranai.”
Ketan is dismissive of the poor representation of Bollywood cinema at the Oscars. “I don’t understand whatBollywood cinema means. If you are talking about the song-and-dance films they are amply present among the entries sent to us.Like I said the film we selected seemed the best of all the entries. We feel it stands a strong chance at the Oscars.”
Last year the Marathi film Court directed by Mahesh Tamhane headed to LA for the Oscars after being selected by a jury headed by Amol Palekar, and returned home empty-handed.
Explains Ketan, “We’ve to understand that selection of a film is only a part of the process towards winning theOscar. Marketing the film in the US, pitching it to the Oscar jury in Los Angeles is very important.”
Here is where Indian entries get thwarted and expelled from the Oscars race.
“We are hopeful that the makers of Visaaranai would be able to take the film to its logical conclusion,” saysKetan.