Mama Mia, here we go again! The minute one of our films gets recognized on a global platform we start dreaming of finally bringing an Oscar home.
But sorry, not happening. This time it is Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple which is being seen as our great big hope at the Oscars next year. However, the one quality that would make an Indian film eligible for an Oscar in the international category is universality. That, I am sorry to say, Tamhane’s labored take on the death of Hindustani classical vocals is sadly lacking.
Every time we make the mistake of sending films with a pungent rigid parochial flavor to the Oscars. Every time we come back disappointed. The reason why Lagaan is the only Indian film in living memory to have made it to the Oscar shortlist is that its theme of the underdog winning over the rulers rung a bell all over the world.
Which bell can The Disciple with its deep-dive into the degeneration and downfall of the Indian classical musical ethos, possibly ring at the Oscars? Sure, the fact that Alfonso Cuaron has mentored the director and the film would draw some surplus notice. But by and large, the film’s appeal is way too esoteric and its emotional arc much too curve-less to attract an Oscar nomination.
So let’s not even go there. Unless we want to come back looking like red-faced losers once again. Old habits die hard. Which, ironically is one of the themes of The Disciple.