There seems to be some kind of an error of judgment as far as Dev Patel’s Best Supporting Actor nomination is concerned.
First of all, how is he us a supporting actor in Lion? The entire film is devoted to his character’s search for his biological parents. And Patel occupies as much playing-time as Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge who is nominated for Best Actor. But Patel is not a Hollywood star. He is an Indian from Gujarat with a British passport.
His nationality is not really a disqualification for the Oscar. Another actor of Indian origin, much older than Patel, had played Gandhi and walked away with the Oscar for Best Actor.
That was decades ago. Ever since then the only film with an Indian theme to crack the Oscars was SlumdogMillionaire, a poverty-porn melodrama, with Dev Patel in the cast, it got the Oscar approbation because it peddled the Great Indian Poverty with a Caucasian cleverness.That was a First World view of Third World filth.
Lion moves in the opposite direction. It takes the slumdog to a life of (Western) affluence and brings him back in search of his roots in Kolkata. More than Patel it is little Sunny Pawar playing the child version of Saroo who has grabbed the entire Western attention. The most hard-nosed American mediapersons are tripping over one another to get interviews with the 7-year old boy. Dressed in his brand new tees and sneakers little Pawar is travelling from channel to channel in the USA with his translator telling awwwww-stuck anchors about how he got the role and what his future plans are.
Sunny Pawar is the real star of Lion. As for Dev Patel, he gave a far more eloquent account of talent as the mathematical genius S Ramanujan in The Man Who Knew Infinity.
That didn’t work for Dev. Lion has worked. But an Oscar for Patel? Naaah. Maybe some other time when MerylStreep won’t be giving a speech on what it means to live in a society that discriminates against immigrants branding them outsiders.
And never mind if the “outsider’ is from Modi-land.