The Lunchbox vs The Good Road

The presenters of ‘The Lunchbox’ didn’t hide their disappointment when ‘The Good Road’ was declared as India’s Oscar entry this year. Karan Johar wrote on Twitter, “Really shocked and disappointed….#LUNCHBOX had every factor working in its favour…we may have just lost our golden chance….SAD!!!”

Anurag Kashyap was also quick to express, “Feeling very very disappointed. I can’t comment on the film which I have not seen, but it better make it to final five.” ‘The Good Road’, by debut filmmaker Gyan Correa, had won a National Award for best feature film in Gujarati earlier this year. It was chosen as India’s Oscar entry by a committee appointed by the Film Federation of India (FFI).

IANS quoted Kasyap as saying, “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.” The acclaimed filmmaker called for a ‘clean policy’. “We should then make a clean policy – you want to send the best film, then send the national award winner or send the one most likely to win,” he added. Kashyap also deleted his twitter account in disappointment over it.

Anurag Kashyap termed the whole exercise of selecting a film as ‘pointless’. “It proves one thing – this whole exercise is pointless. We should just quietly make our films,” he said. ‘The Good Road’ was selected over 21 films including ‘The Lunchbox’, ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, ‘Ship of Theseus’, ‘English Vinglish’, Malayalam film ‘Celluloid’ and Bengali film ‘Shabdo’. Filmmaker Goutam Ghose, who chaired the committee to choose the final entry, admitted that ‘The Lunchbox’, directed by Ritesh Batra, was indeed a ‘strong contender’.

Ghose told IANS, “We chose this wonderful Gujarati film ‘The Good Road’. We were surprised by the film…’The Lunchbox’ is very good too. I loved the performances of Irrfan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. But ‘The Good Road’ got our vote.” “It’s a lost-and-found story set in the Kutch area. It reflects on an India not seen in our films. The film explores an entirely new cinematic space,” Ghose added.

Ghose also revealed that the FFI has sent a request to the Academy Awards asking that we be allowed to send several Oscar entries per year ‘as we are such a large cinema-making country’. “So many diverse kind of films are being made in India. We make 1,500 films. The Tamil film industry is itself bigger than Korean cinema. Why should we send only one film to the Oscars? We cannot dance only to their tune,” he added.

Later, Amitabh Bachchan also praised ‘The Lunchbox’ on Twitter, “Saw ‘The Lunch Box’ and it is quite the film to be seen by the connoisseurs of sensitivity.” Several other Bollywood celebrities, who had seen ‘The Lunchbox’, came in support of it till the people in support of ‘The Good Road’ started presenting their arguments. It was largely believed that one should refrain from commenting on the issue without watching ‘The Good Road’. And, the team behind ‘The Good Road’ was also a good one because people associated with it have done good work in the past. It boasted of technicians such as Rajat Dholakia, Paresh Kamdar, Resul Pookutty and Amitabha Singh, who have worked on acclaimed films in the past.

It was said by the jury members of FFI that ‘The Good Road’ was selected because it represents India. For the matter, even ‘The Lunchbox’ represented India in a pure Indian way. The film focussed on the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai and weaved a story around the middle class. And as far representing the country ‘perfectly’ is concerned, nobody probably knows what’s actually perfect. ‘The Lunchbox’ has won awards at prestigious film festivals and it was likely to be a good ‘product’ at the Best Foreign Film Oscar but then whichever Indian film goes there, will have to fight against films from the masters such as Wong Kar Wai and Louise Archambault.

The experts are already mentioning the films from Chile, Australia and France as potential winners. In such a scenario, India needs to step up the gas because Foreign Film Oscar requires a lot of lobbying as well. Didn’t we see ‘Lagaan’ getting very close to the award? It’s more than a fight between the promoters of ‘The Lunchbox’ and ‘The Good Road’ because Oscar means new markets and more infusion of money. This helps cinema in the longer run and gives confidence to the filmmakers that they can make films of their choice. It’s not the case of Oscar obsession because the Hindi film industry is anyway thriving on its own but if you’re participating in a competition you should put the best foot forward.

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