Friday, February 23, 2007


The Oscar night is one day away and the big buzz on most Indian news sites is around the possibility of 'Water' winning an Oscar for the best foreign language film; never mind that it is not actually an Indian film, but a Canadian movie. I have seen Water and I have to confess I wasn’t so impressed with it. Besides the really good music (courtesy Rehman who must have relished the freedom) and the good cinematography, I was not impressed with it a whole lot. Not the acting from Lisa and John, neither by the often melodramatic treatment or the not-so-subtle demonification of Indian society in the 1930s. I had enjoyed Deepa Mehta’s treatment of Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy man (or was it Cracking India) as she made Earth, heightened by Aamir’s negative turn. I was wondering if this movie really got selected because it’s "made" for the West. I mean, movies that depict the squalor (Salaam Bombay, City of Joy) and social angst (Bandit Queen, Water) of third world countries seem to find better acceptance abroad. Once in a while, a rare Lagaan comes through, and that is the kind of cinema I champion. I want better cinema to win, and it won’t be a big surprise to me if Water doesn’t, even though I have not seen any of the other contenders in the category. Water failed to impress me in a way a movie like Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi did. The treatment seemed more balanced to me, or maybe it’s an inherent bias coming across. Am I alone in thinking that way? Your thoughts are welcome.


RTD2 said...

Yup..completely agree. It's as if the 'typical' hit movie is too bizarre for non-Indian viewers, so the bizarre movies are assumed to reflect typical India. It makes me a little mad.
One of the movies at the Portland International Film Fest was an Iranian one, featuring Azerbaijani characters (in not even really an unflattering light) so there were these Azerbaijani men handing out literature warning us to take the movie with a pinch of salt. I feel like doing the same with movies like Water - this image of India is neither flattering nor completely accurate. I'm not saying a Bunty Aur Bubbly is, but at least that reflects accurately what Indians find appealing.
Sorry for long comment...bashan over!

sd said...

Did not watch the Oscar.. but just read that Water lost ... so all is well with the world :)

30in2005 said...

Water was a very average movie. And sadly I am glad it lost.

It's funny how even some bit of something being Indian makes all the Indians jump up and claim it their own!

Nocturne said...

as an indian living in canada, i couldn't help feeling WE lost. *sniff*

Parth said...

@RTD2: Right indeed. I read a comment on a news article where someone asked whether Indians have to wear dhoti-kurta to be taken seriously in movies :-)

@SD: Yup, indeed. I am not trying to belittle the efforts, but talent should be appreciated for what it is, not to satisfy the subjective whims of the west

@30in2005: True. There is some Indian-American kid in the American Idol event who is doing well, and the press is over it. He isn't Indian, he is American. Why can't they leave it at that?

@Nocturne: Here, a handkerchief for you :-)

Ragini said...

Completely agree.

The only good things about water were
1. the music.
2. the last scene.

It was very average. To furthur teh point about films made for the west.. i saw last years winner in the category - totsi. and that was worse that water if its possible.

Perhaps depressing is a qualification for Oscars - its teh only time that i wonder if a comic movie category actually makes sense :P


Parth said...

@Ragini: The whole emphasis on movies like Babel and Blood Diamond etc. is to emphasize the empathy of Hollywood towards the rest of the poor little world. Cine-activism, anyone?

RagzZmatazZ said...

Cine Activism for sure. Blood Diamond made it to the Oscars.. the gitteratti applauded it as well.. but no one forgot to flaunt their bling.
Everyone clapped for Al Gore and the new war against global warming.. did anyone carpool though ?

Niranjan said...

Like the title :-). Similar impressions on water - excellent cinematography, and the jury watching the movie with subtitles may have masked some of the bad acting by John. Also, having watched the first part of Tsotsi (last year's winner), h20 seemed way too good. As for the movie not winning, wonder if that's an indication of changing stereotypes ;-)

Parth said...

@Rags: Well said :-)

@Niranjan: You seem to have convinced me not to see Tsotsi. I also liked how you spoke of masking John's bad acting being camouflaged by subtitles :-)

shreya said...

Parth, what exactly does "javeda zindagi" mean?

and "aye hairathe"...what is the exact meaning?

Parth said...

Javeda=immortal, or eternal.
Hairat= Amazement, surprise, wonder

Javeda zindagi = eternal life
Ai Haraite = O surprise of ....

Akshat said...

please also help if you know what SHAQT means....from "isi shaqt ka imtehaan zindagi hai...."

Parth said...

@Akshat: I believe that the word is Shauq, not shakt. In the context of this song, the word would mean taste