Head, India's Oscar selection Committee
The selection process for films to the Oscars is not complex. A jury selects a film based on what the majority members decide. At present, we have a central jury of 16 members comprising the Film Federation of India representing a holistic group of voices from regional cinema. Each member shortlists their film and based on that we make the final selection.
But this is an absurd mechanism. Watching about 25-30 films in a span of five-six days and then making a selection is difficult. It would be easier if we can have a regional panel selecting a set of films first. And then we can have a final round of six. The Academy never specifies that you need to have an award-winning film or festival-centric film as the official entry.
All the 22 films this year were good. At the end, one needs to decide on one film only. So it is natural that a particular filmmaker feels offended if their film is not selected. We should suggest to the Academy to allow five entries from India because of the size of our film industry. And contrary to popular belief, there is no influence of lobby groups in the selection. There was no interference from any section of filmmakers as the selection was very democratic. But the fact is that lobby groups are unavoidable in our country. When I headed the jury for the National Film Awards, I found there was a strong regional feeling among filmmmakers and that is the nature of our country.
And as in every competition, there is a winner and a loser. In India we make over 1,600 films annually. Compare that to the kind of cinema being made across Europe and South Asia and if you see the percentage of films, which can compete in film festivals, it is quite apparent that we have not made good films. That is another problem which we have to think about. We have our limitations too and we must look at the content of our cinema before we speak.
There are two methods of