Filmmakers unhappy with Eklavya as official entry for the Oscars


Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s film Eklavya-The Royal Guard has been selected as the official entry for the Oscars in Best Foreign language film category. The film marked the producer’s return to direction and was a multi starrer with Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Jackie Shroff, Boman Irani, Vidya Balan etc. The film has a sort of Shakespearean theme and deals with how the royal guard protected one of the last few empires as well as his king’s secrets with his life. The film beat many other films like Chak de India, Gandhi My Father, Dharam etc, but many within the industry are unhappy with the jury’s selection.
However for producer/director Vidhu Vinod Chopra this is not the first time that his film is going to the Oscars. In fact two of his earlier works, a short non-fiction film An Encounter with Faces and Parinda were sent to the Oscars. Last year too, a Vidhu Vinod production Lage Raho Munnabhai was sent as an independent entry to the Oscars. Obviously Chopra is extremely happy and says “I can say that it is just the beginning for us. Now the real work starts, I just hope that we go there and make India proud.” No doubt Chopra has big plans to promote and publicise the film with the foreign juries, he says “I am supposed to go to New York and Boston for the screening of the film. I have an office in Los Angeles and now I will hire some people to take care of the publicity of the film.” There was a lot of critical appreciation for the finer nuances and technical aspects of Eklavya even from the West; however at the box-office the film didn’t do too well. Chopra is also upset with the reactions of some filmmakers against Eklavya. The producer-director compared the attitude of certain sections of the film fraternity akin to crab mentality, where one crab pulls down the other one. He also said “What are the credentials of these people…what is their understanding of cinema…where does their allegiance lie? These people need to be educated a little bit about cinema.”

However many filmmakers within the film industry are questioning the selection process for the film sent as the official entry to the Oscars as well the jury that selects the film. Director Farah Khan speaks her mind on Eklavya, she says “I haven’t seen all the films, but I don’t think Eklavya is an exceptional film.” Bhavna Talwar whose film Dharam was one of the contenders is extremely livid with the jury for sending Eklavya as the official entry to the Oscars. Bhavna states “There has to be some accountability on these matters. Every year we send the wrong film. The jury members are serving their own agendas. I've seen Eklavya. I was bored. I couldn't connect with any of the characters. Apart from big budgets and big stars what does Eklavya have?" Bhavna even hinted that the ballot was conducted unethically.

However jury member Sudhir Mishra defends the film Eklavya, saying “I can tell you in no uncertain terms that there was no politicization this time. I feel Eklavya stands a good chance of making it to the Top 5 nominations for the Oscar for best foreign-language film. I think it's unfair to question the selection." Finally on his personal selection as an entry for the Oscars, Mishra diplomatically states “There was an overall approval of Eklavya being selected, and I went ahead with the choice. A jury always works through consensus."

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