India may withdraw Eklavya from Oscar race

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The trouble surrounding the entry of Eklavya as the official film for the Oscars has taken 2 more turns in the ever-dizzying story. We previously reported that there was outrage about the selection of the film and that a court case has been filed. The result of that case has the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s authorities questioning the entry as well. All this controversy means that India may withdraw its selection from the race this year.

Bhavna Talwar, whose film Dharm came in second to Eklavya in the selection process, brought about the court case. Her claim was that there was favoritism shown by committee members because they were friends of the Eklavya’s producer,Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The High Court of Bombay heard the case last month and has agreed that there were irregularities and some bias was shown.

Vinod Pande, who is the chairman of the committee said, “I cannot be proud about the methodology and the dynamics of selection.” Adding that he is glad that courts are involved because “it will help streamline the process, make it more transparent, democratic and develop clear cut norms.”

Now the newest twist is that the US Oscar committee sent a letter to the selection committee of India expressing concern about the court case and asking the committee to confirm that Eklavya was indeed the film they wanted considered. According to one report the letter also said that the judging standards of the committee needs to be looked at and improved. The letter from AMPAS gave the committee until Wednesday, Oct 17th to nominate their final selection.

According to Pande, “Maybe there will be no film from India. Anything is possible. We can reaffirm our choice, send another or maybe India would retire this year.”

The Film Federation of India did have one meeting on Sunday about what to do, but postponed making a decision until a second round of meetings takes place. “It (the meeting) was to take self-corrective steps following the court intervention. We discussed the issue of legitimacy of some members and the voting process. But the meeting remained inconclusive,” Pandey said. Adding it was just the first meeting of two and that the Academy has said they will be glad to hear from them when they have decided which film to submit.

It will be interesting to learn what the final decision of the committee turn out to be. Watch this space for more news on which film or if any film will be going to the Oscars this year.

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