Gujarati film The Good Road was picked on Saturday as India’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards next year.
Set in the harsh terrain of Kutch, the film, a road movie by debutant feature film director Gyan Correa, revolves around a truck driver and a couple whose child is on the run. Although the film was adjudged the Best Feature Film (Gujarati) at the 60th National Awards, it has had a limited viewing.
While the chairman of the selection committee, filmmaker Gautam Ghose, said the Film Federation of India unanimously picked The Good Road, the Oscar choice immediately sparked off a controversy.
The first voices of protest were raised by the director and producer of The Lunchbox. The Ritesh Batra-directed film has been received well in the festival circuit and had been talked of as India’s best shot at the Oscars.
Anurag Kashyap, who co-produced The Lunchbox, tweeted: “First time and I really mean it, I was excited because first time we knew we had a chance... I don’t know who the federation is but it goes to show, why we completely lack the understanding to make films that can travel across borders.” Batra also accused the FFI of “lacking vision”.
Director-producer Karan Johar, who turned presenter for The Lunchbox, tweeted: “The Lunchbox had every factor working in its favour, we may have lost our golden chance.”
According to sources, the film’s international distributor, Sony Pictures, was so confident that they had plans of similar lobbying campaigns as Amour, the French film that won the Oscar last year.
Defending the choice, Ghose said: “The film, produced by National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and Amitabha Singh, edged past others because it had a new experience to offer. It is about unknown people and tells a story from the remote Kutch.”
This is not the first time the FFI has been accused of failing to send the right films to the Oscars. “I have suggested that the FFI write to the Academy that India, being a gigantic industry with a wide variety of films, be allowed to send at least five films,” said Ghose.
The Good Road director Correa said the film, shot near Bhuj, was prompted by his own travel experiences. The Mumbai-based director had so far made only ad films. While the central role was played by a real-life truck driver, Oscar-winner Resul Pookutty was the sound designer.
Gujarat Chief Minister