Oscar nominee 2022, Chhello Show, raises serious concerns on selection

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Ashoke Pandit (centre) shows similarity between posters of Cinema Paradiso and Chhello Show. Photo: Expansion PR 

Yes, we have had some controversies very often in the past regarding India’s official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category. Devdas, Paheli and Eklavya—The Royal Guard were among films that were heavily criticized either by filmmakers or the media—or both.

This year’s surprise selection, Pan Nalin’s Gujarati film, Chhello Show, however, seemed non-controversial—until now!

After its selection, a Press conference was held on September 24, and the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), the mother body of 31 crafts functioning in the Film/ TV/ Web/ Ads industry in India, has submitted a press release that goes thus:

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“We at FWICE have observed that this year’s nomination of the film Chhello Show as India’s official entry to the 95th Oscar Award is not as per the usual norms and has therefore created lot of doubts and issues we thought of raising. We strongly feel that the selection process was not thoroughly followed. We have nothing against the producers and makers of the film which has been nominated, but at the same time the real successors of this award cannot be left in dilemma.”

It further states, “The official selection of an Indian film means it is produced by Indian companies. This year’s selection of Chhello Show seems questionable. This film is primarily produced by foreign studios and most of the crew is also from foreign countries. Its major producers, Orange Studios, are a foreign studio.”

It also mentions, “This film has been on their site for few years. It’s only recently that some Indian companies did a deal for this film for its Indian release. Does that qualify it as an Indian film? With that criterion, in the future any foreign production can tie up for distribution with an Indian company and call it an Indian film. Is it in the interest of Indian producers? “

The statement goes on, “There are some very serious allegations against the film that it’s inspired/copied from Oscar winner Cinema Paradiso. And prima facie, if we look at the poster and synopsis, there are uncanny similarities between both.  This is a very serious allegation because in the past (Gully Boy) India was humiliated when Oscar committee rejected that film as plagiarized from 8MM. Are we making the same mistake again because Oscar is very strict about the originality and even slightest of similarities disqualify a film? This is important for Indian Cinema’s honor, prestige and integrity.”

It then adds, “Also, the film was premiered in June 2021. How is it qualified for 2022 films? What are the FFI’s rules? If this is the case, then it’s not an equal opportunity competition and would be an injustice to the other successors of real Indian films who are the real claimants of the Oscar selections.”

The next valid statement is, “The chairman of the jury, T.S. Nagabharana, has given an official statement in Bombay Times that this film was also considered last year.  How is it possible for a film to enter twice? What is the criterion for qualification? If it was even considered last year, why is it getting a second chance? This technicality has to be made clear and FFI must explain why this concession is given.”

The media statement makes an appeal to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to take serious note of this issue, concluding, “We suggest that as this decision of nominating a film for Oscar constitutes the dignity of the Film Industry, the Ministry should take over the entire process of nominating the film and should not allow an organization to do so.”

It is signed by B.N. Tiwari, Hon. President, FWICE, and Ashoke Pandit, Hon. President, Indian Film & Television & Director’s Association (IFTDA).

 

 

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