'Bollywood films can't win Oscar'

Zia Haq

Panaji, Nov. 21 -- A Bollywood film will probably never win an Oscar - not exactly what billions of star-struck fans of Hindi cinema want to hear, but when it's Derek Malcolm you better sit up and take note. As India opened its flagship 43th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, HT asked some of cinema's greatest on what they made of Bollywood. And why, despite repeated nominations, its products get junked at the Academy.

"Indians choose the most terrible films," Malcolm, arguably the most respected film critic alive, said. "You should stop sending Bollywood to the Oscars. They don't work. They are full of cliches."

When the UK's Guardian newspaper, of which Malcolm was film critic for 30 years, asked him to compile his pick of top 100 films (now a famous book), he put Satyajit Ray's Jalsaghar second on the list.

"Most nations don't send good films. They send films America understands. They jury is mostly old. And importantly, nobody would sit for three hours," Malcolm, the president of the International Film Critics' Association, said.

Not even if the movie was good? "Well, then it had to be an epic. Not otherwise."

Director Anurag Basu's Barfi! is India's official Oscar entry for 2013.

"The best thing to do is to send a decent, independent film more relevant to India. If you can correct this trend, you may actually pick an Oscar," Malcolm said.

Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi, one of Europe's greatest post-war film-makers who was given a lifetime award here, said though the juries wouldn't appreciate, Bollywood was a "faithful expression of popular culture".

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.