Is Taare Zameen Par Oscar-worthy?
Taare Zameen Par  

India’s farfetched Oscar dreams are once again being rekindled with Taare Zameen Par competing as the country’s official entry in the foreign language category. While the question of craving for Oscar’s attention is a separate case in point worth discussing, it’s also important to ponder over the nominations from the Indian side.

Are we, as a nation inhibited by the best of creative minds, sincerely nominating movies for the only possible category based on what the movie has to offer? Or simply because the movie has attained commercial and critical success? The latter seems to be the case, clearly.

TZP is, without a fragment of doubt, one of the finest movies Indian film industry has seen in the past year. It was an attempt to throw light on the forgotten and often overlooked issues prevailing in children such as dyslexia. Same way, TZP was successful in creating awareness of such ailments among parents.

But, unfortunately, it wasn’t devoid of all the Bollywood’s glitz and glamour. It had hummable songs and a clearly etched out relationship thread between a teacher and a dyslexic boy that was solely an insertion to evoke the so called sentiments of the viewers. It was anything but subtle and in your face, and hence not close to real life. After all, Aamir is a businessman who has apparently only looked at the script from the scope-at-the-box-office perspective.

So our hearts went out for the characters of the movie. We cried and sympathized for Ishaan and his parents and felt fondly for the teacher Nikumbh – but then did we not do the same thing for Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Dil to Paagal Hai - the crying? So where is the difference? Oh yeah, there is no song and dance routine and the most inevitable heroine – but is that innovation at all? May be for Bollywood.

Attaining commercial success should not shun a movie from appearing for Oscars, I agree. But isn’t Oscar given away for movies that are considered fine, with a message that often trades commercial viability for the need to sound real?

TZP is a bitter pill, necessarily intended to be good medicine, but heavily sugar coated and hence, I doubt, not suitable for consumption by the Oscars. It’s more Bollywood than world cinema.

So what does it leave TZP with? All the awards that Indian government and all the other film-based organizations in India could possibly give away. Because it’s a good cinema by Indian standards - not necessarily by world standards. And world cinema has most certainly seen better movies that focused on the same issue.

On the other hand, there is a gem purposely and conveniently avoided by the bureaucrats during the selection process. The Marathi movie Tingya, which is set in a Maharshtrian village and narrates the life of a rural boy and his love and friendship for his bull. It’s hard-hitting and real and had already been shown in enough and more film festivals all over the world. Besides, it has also won numerous awards in those film festivals.

Tingya also touches upon on the burning issues of rural Maharashtra – they are issues of rural India, precisely – like farmer suicide, unemployment, and lack of proper education. Only that you or I do not know Tingya existed until the producer decided to send it as an Independent entrant to the Oscars in the foreign language category – for which TZP is making an entry officially with the red carpet honors.

Somehow doesn’t Tingya feel like a better bet than the tale of a friendship between a super rich dyslexic kid and his boarding school art teacher?

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