The absence of Indian movies at the Oscars is a widely discussed and criticized aspect of Indian cinema. However, what adds perspective to this debate is the performance of Oscar winning movies in India.
La La Land, Moonlight, The Revenant and other winning movies, when seen in India have only received dissatisfied audiences. Too often, we find them drab, boring, void of action and songs. Even the India based Slumdog Millionairre made us angry and pitied.
The fact is that the sort of movies that win Oscars and those that Indians appreciate are radically different. We like movies with big hero comebacks, item songs, melodramatic villains, societies and families. Such stuff, which may lack artistic finesse at times, does not win Oscars. It is therefore unrealistic to want our movie-makers to make Oscar winning movies. Their job is to entertain Indians and while there are areas for improvement, they still do their job by satisfying majority of our audiences.
Why do we Indians have different tastes in movies? The answer may be varied: maybe it has to do with the way our early Bollywood movies were made developing our tastes accordingly. It might be the Indian familial structure, where one movie in a long time is an entertainment outlet for new-borns and grandparents alike. And thus we want happy, uplifting, inclusive cinema. Or it might eventually boil down to our roots and culture where we have always indulged in loud music, dance and drama, which is evidently seen at the big fat Indian weddings and religious festivals.
The all-important question to ponder is: Whether an Oscar really matters? Should we blindly aspire to win the elusive Academy Award at all or rather continue making movies in our own unique style, celebrating our diversity and culture?