Kolkata: Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Malayalam film ‘Jallikattu’ has been selected as India’s official entry to the Oscars 2021, jury chairman Rahul Rawail announced on Wednesday in the presence of Kolkata-based Film Federation of India president Firdausul Hasan and a few jury members, including music director Prabuddha Banerjee. Pellissery had won the Best Director award at International Film Festival of India last year.
The film elbowed out 26 other entries — including Chaitanya Tamhane’s Marathi film ‘The Disciple’, which had won the prestigious FIPRESCI award at the 2020 Venice Film Festival and has Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron of ‘Roma’ and ‘Gravity’ fame as its executive producer — to make the cut.
‘Jallikattu’ is based on the short story ‘Maoist’ by Hareesh and stars Antony Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose, Sabumon Abdusamad and Santhy Balachandran. The plot revolves around a buffalo that escapes from a slaughterhouse in a remote, hilly village and the hunt that follows.
The 14-member jury included directors Atanu Ghosh, Satarupa Sanyal, C Umamaheswara Rao, P Sheshadri and Abhishek Shah, actor Jayesh More, producer Kalaippuli S Thanu, art director Niraj Shah, cinematographer Nirav Shah, music director Prabuddha Banerjee, costume designer Sabarni Das, writer Shrinivas Bhanage and editor Vijay Khochikar. “Initially, we had 17 jury members of which six were from Bengal. While there were Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam and Odia films, it’s unfortunate that there were no Bengali or Tamil entries this year,” said Hasan.
According to Banerjee, being on the jury was a mix of stress and enjoyment. “What I enjoyed most was our interactions during the Zoom meetings and was pleasantly surprised by the level of mutual respect and space that all jury members had for each other, notwithstanding the obvious difference of opinion that is bound to be there in any creative assessment,” he said.
On why internationally acclaimed ‘The Disciple’ was ignored, Rawail said: “This film had won the Best Screenplay award. Even if this or any other film had got the Best Picture award at Venice, it does not make it necessary that it will be the best film for this jury to be sending it to the Oscars. One has to take an objective and independent view.”
When there are 27 films in the fray, it is quite a challenge to select one. “It was decided by a simple majority to send ‘Jallikattu’ to represent India at the Oscars. The jury was touched by the rawness the film showed, the complexity of human emotions with well fleshed-out characters,” he added.
Full report on www.toi.in