Published On : Wed, Feb 25th, 2015

Glory of Oscars revisited


As Lady Gaga sang Edelweiss and with the dying notes of the song , Julie Andrews,the original Maria came on the stage and spoke about how it had been to be a part of the ever green classic – Sound of Music – one felt moved by the great cinematic experience that even watching the Oscar awards is.

They say the award function is getting dull and viewership is going down, but contrast it to our movie awards and the contrast is so striking that you dont know where to begin talking about it.

For beginnings, the number of our awards are multiplying so fast that there is no sanctity left to any award, or for that matter any suspense behind the award ceremony. Just from who is performing and who is hosting you know who is winning – there is no surprise element there at all. While Hollywood just has this one definitive award function held by their legitimate association of motion picture producers. Even being nominated for an Oscar sets you apart from the rest of the fraternity. And if you are an award winner, that becomes an additional philip to marketng of your movies forever here after.

Another commendable thing I noticed was the respect and regard even technicians and support professionals like dress designers and make up artists get. They sit next to stars and are applauded as lustilly as any of them. Catch that happening in our ‘class driven’ star system of Bollywood!

Finally, the awards and the ceremony are a social reflection of the mood of the country and the time it is going through.
Hard hitting speeches with political content are made and taken most sportingly. No one has to watch over his/ her shoulder to see if Big Brother ( Government of the day) is watching and will take umbrage.

For instance yesterday the awards were hosted by Neil Patrick Harris a veteran of Tony awards and Emmys who was hosting Oscars for the first time. He made some tongue in cheek remarks but there were no pot shots at actors, directors or cheap innendo. There was one parody of a scene from ‘Birdman’ in which Michael Keaton runs through the Times square in his underpants which Harris did on the stage and you think with a shiver that this is going to be one stunt that will definitely be picked up at one of our own award functions, albeit without the reference.
What we will NOT see is a Jack Black ran up on stage to express the self-loathing of new Hollywood, ranting about an “industry in flux,” big budget movies about superheroes and formulaic scripts.

After all seven of the eight are not big studio films, but independent movies made by first timers too.

What we will also never see in our award shows is a winning black actor Patricia Arquette’s feminist call to arms at the end of her acceptance speech for supporting actress which was unexpected and fierce.

“We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” she said as Meryl Streep and others roared their approval.

“Citizenfour,” about the National Security Agency leaker Edward J. Snowden, won best documentary, and its makers thanked Mr. Snowden, who is still in Russia, for his courage. Mr. Harris joked that Mr. Snowden “couldn’t be here for some treason.”

As the New york times puts it –

Oscar nights usually do have their share of political posturing, but this was a particularly passionate evening.

This year, in addition to Ms. Arquette’s speech, the question of race in Hollywood was addressed with both humor — in his opening monologue, Mr. Harris made a barbed allusion to the lack of diversity among the Academy by saying, “Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest, sorry, brightest” — and emotion. The latter came at the hands of actors, musicians and others who wanted to express indignation that the director of “Selma,” Ava DuVernay, wasn’t nominated and neither was David Oyelowo, who played the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When the audience applauded Mr. Oyelowo, who participated in a bit with Mr. Harris, the host said with a smirk, “Oh sure, now you like him.”

As John Legend and Common accepted the Oscar for their song, “Glory,” from “Selma,” Mr. Legend urged the audience to join the struggle to protect voting rights and called the United States “the most incarcerated country in the world,” saying that there are now more “black men under correctional control than were under slavery in 1850.”

Can we ever expect to see a Sharukh Khan or Salman Khan taking up for the large number of Muslim young undertrials languishing in Indian jails or make jibes at the Hindutva agenda of the ruling party?

Can we expect a Kareena Kapoor or a Deepika Padukone to take up the cause of the female actor and the disparity in their pay scales?