Bollywood's Oscar Submission: A Film With a Message

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Mythili Chandrasekar Mythili Chandrasekar
Bollywood has the largest film output in the world, making at least twice as many films as Hollywood does in a year. And that's only the Hindi-language films -- there are at least five other thriving vernacular-language film industries in India. So you can imagine how difficult it is to choose just one entry for the Oscars! First, the arguments: Was it really the best? Were politics involved? Did the right movie's team lobby well enough? ... And when we don't win: Are we really not good enough, is it racism, is it lack of marketing, or is it that "they just don't get it"?

But this year, all Indians will be proud of the entry "Taare Zameen Par" ("Every Child Is Special"). The choice reflects two trends: the rise of "message movies" and the rise of the film star as activist. In this movie, actor Aamir Khan -- known to do fewer films than others because he chooses his themes with care and also known for supporting causes offscreen -- pulls off an outstanding directorial debut. "TZP" (we like to abbreviate our movie names) is the story of a dyslexic child and how a sensitive teacher transforms him and opens the eyes of the parents. At a time when Indian parents are increasingly "pushing" their children to higher academic and all-around performance, the film makes more than one statement.

The last time Mr. Khan was at the Academy Awards, in 2002, his movie "Lagaan" lost to "No Man's Land." His "Rang De Basanti" didn't make it to the shortlist in 2007. Now, India crosses a billion fingers and waits with bated breath, hoping the phrase "third time lucky" is true!

Check out Mr. Khan's blog here.
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