Anurag Basu’s Barfi! got the nod to be India’s official entry in this year’s 85thAnnual Academy Awards. The Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D’Cruz starrer has garnered rave reviews across the country and seems poised to be remembered for years to come. Barfi! Seamlessly brings together heart-wrenching performances by the actors, while set in the breathtaking backdrops of Darjeeling and supported by an elegant yet powerful storyline.
After the initial aplomb, the movie was talked about in all forms of media- including the ever-growing social networks. However once the news of Barfi! going to the Oscars was confirmed, it has been receiving a lot of flak for being ‘unoriginal’ even to the point of calling some sequences plagiarized. Videos comparing sequences of Barfi! to some scenes from Charlie Chaplin movies, as well as other lesser known international movies have started surfacing. These videos have gone viral and a raging debate has ensued regarding the choice of the movie as India’s Oscar nomination.
Well as I have an aversion towards raging debates, let us try nipping this in the bud right here:
Why Barfi?! : Well this is simple enough isn’t it? If public opinion and box office numbers don’t speak volumes, then we have enough critics to back this movie as one of the best ones this year.
How Barfi?! : As per the Oscars committee rules, the 11-member jury comprising of people associated with films, like directors, technicians etc., watch 20 Indian films in different languages. Barfi! didn’t get all 11 votes, but it was chosen by the majority. It was subsequently learnt that Kahaani, Heroine and Gangs Of Wasseypur were other contenders from the Hindi section of movies. Yes, I was equally surprised to see Heroine in that list!
Who before Barfi?! : It’s interesting to note that of the last 45 movies which were sent to the Oscars by India, only 3 managed to get nominated for the Academy Award Best foreign language film category. Lagaan being the latest after Mother India and Salaam Bombay!
The Academy Award is an award bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors and writers.
Yes, it’s American. So why are we lining up our movies, short-listing them and picking a winner to send to the Oscars? The media of course! For the coveted Best Foreign Language Film award as well as a chance to showcase our movie industry along with the rest of the world.
Why not Barfi?! : In one word? Unoriginal. Not a unique work of art.
Well this seems like a weak reason to slam this movie. Though there are striking similarities in Ranbir’s demeanor in some of the action sequences to that of Charlie Chaplin’s, it’s a far cry from being copied. It is evident that Barfi! is inspired by some of Charlie Chaplin’s works, but that’s all there is to it. Anurag Basu’s masterpiece can’t be tainted by offering minutes of video footage from older movies wherein some scenes may look similar!
Barfi! & Controversy: How can we send a plagiarized movie to the Oscars?!
Well you didn’t seem to notice that the first time you saw the movie did you?
Only after talks about Barfi! being unoriginal started appearing online along with the viral video comparing scenes from the movie, did people start discussing heavily regarding this subject. Every movie can seem like it’s been plagiarized if you spend enough time researching it! The bottom line is that for a movie, which breaks the traditional song and dance routines of Hindi movies and attempts to tell a tale in a different way, Barfi! deserves way more credit than what has been given to it.
As the process of selecting a movie and sending it to the Academy is based on a vote (Just like our esteemed and beloved political system), the results are never quite satisfactory.
That should not be a major concern. The industry maturing to a point where we get to see movies such as Barfi! is reason enough for celebrations!
Personally I’d have preferred to see Gangs of Wasseypur 1 & 2 sent as a package deal to shock and awe the Academy, but that’s just me.