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Monday, February 23, 2009

And the Oscar Doesn't Go To..

A piece in the 'Economist' concludes:
Within Hollywood, of course, the Academy Awards still matter a great deal. Prestige and acclaim are hard currency in the film business, in many ways more valuable than money. The danger is that Hollywood’s taste in its own products is becoming as removed from public opinion as its political views are outside the American mainstream. What viewers will see on Sunday night is an industry talking to itself.
But James Patterson doesn't need to win a Pulitzer. He shouldn't even be considered for a Pulitzer because it would be defeating the whole purpose. His purpose is to make money. The purpose of the academy is to identify and honor artistes who made a worthy contribution. The giant financial machine that Hollywood is, it may not have been wise for it to exclude 'The Dark Knight', a giga-blockbuster and include 'Milk', an anemic-moneyspinner in the best picture category. But where else will the producers of 'Milk' be commended for telling the story of a forgotten man? How else can they pat on their backs for embarking on a project that didn't have a viable revenue generating star/story? How else are Melissa Leo & Richard Jenkins (who were nominated in the top acting categories) going to be recognized for their brilliant performances in minor productions that didn't play in theaters near you.

Oscar was once Hollywood's prom night. It still is, in terms of glitz and glamor, but in terms of recognition the members of the academy have opened up and started accepting range. Cannes & Berlin have a different style of scouting films where they go hunting all over the world. Oscars, though still mostly American, many nominations in the recent years have belogned to low-budget no-names in the eye of an international viewer. That's a welcome departure because the prestige & acclaim that comes with Oscar is more valuable than hard currency and that is what keeps the art of moving pictures moving.

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A.R.Rahman, the wonderboy from Chennai won Oscars for original score & song. A couple of weeks back I was listening to 'Uzhavan', one of his earlier soundtracks. The variety of this album borders on genius. 'Slumdog Millionaire' pales very much in comparison to 'Uzhavan'. So, I think it's fair to assume that if someone from Peru decides to dig up Rahman's earlier works, they're only going to be more impressed. Baradwaj Rangan wrote a piece a few weeks back explaining how the interconnected world has shrunk the cultural gap and increased the base of audience for Rahman's music. That's definitely one of the reasons why Rahman was picked up by Andrew Lloyd Weber in London and why M.S.V or Ilayaraja wasn't popular even in North India. Though Ilayaraja's music is closest to my heart, I'm very proud of Rahman's contribution to international music.

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