[VoxSpace Selects] Understanding The Snubbing Of C/O Kancharapalem At The National Awards

The Snubbing Of C/O Kancharapalem – To What Effect Though?

The last two to three years have been one of the most glorious and prosperous years for the Telugu Film Industry. The variety of cinema the Telugu audience experienced over the last 4 years has been the best in the past decade or so. Not just in Telugu, but, cinema across other regional languages is sailing in a great new direction as well. A new generation of talent is blossoming for the overall good. New storytellers, who aren’t afraid of presenting their voices to the country, in the most honest and brutal manner, are flourishing like never before.

Everything Seems Hale And Hearty, What’s Wrong Then?

The present generation has started to look beyond the alluring bank balance and the grandfather’s will. They are smarter, independent individuals now. They get an adrenaline rush when their work is duly recognised. Yes, recognition in the field of art plays an important role in what that artist turns out to be. And from the biggies like ‘Baahubali’, ‘Rangasthalam’, ‘Mahanati’ to the small game changers like ‘Pellichoopulu’ or the latest ‘C/O Kancharapalem’, every film that was made with a soul and heart reaped huge benefits not just with the BO numbers, but with the critical acclaim all across the nation.

NATION. Yes, here is my issue. While on one side, we have passionate filmmakers upping the game in their league making the so-called ‘Nation’ proud, but on the other side we have a ‘Nation’ who’s least interested to give such artists and filmmakers some air to breathe in their own, ‘NATION.’

‘C/O Kancharapalem’ by Venkatesh Maha was an ascetically made regional film. Made with nearly 70 new actors, who belonged to the beautiful countryside of Kancharapalem, the movie throws light on various aspects like religious beliefs, individuality, relationships, people in the society and so on with a soulful story at the core of it.

It is a rare occurrence that one gets to watch a movie that has so much to speak for and about, without being anywhere near the propaganda horizon. This was my that ‘one’ movie (and if you haven’t watched, I’d strongly recommend that you do so). Such a movie was royally thrown out from the nominations for the National Film Awards merely on the fact that the producer, Ms Praveena Paruchuri is a US citizen of Indian origin.

The Structures Becoming Shackles

See, we understand that a body like this is governed by rules, but what use are the rules if they don’t protect or encourage the ones deserving (at least a nomination) it.  See, winning the award or not is a secondary thing, it just takes an iota of one’s IQ to encourage movies that talk about your country and its people. We are a country that boasts and rubs patriotism all over our body. And when someone wants to contribute in some way to his country, we fail to understand and update ourselves.

It’s just an appeal to the Directorate Of Film Awards to consider substance over form when it comes to a creative field, especially like this. National Film Awards are awarded for excellence in cinematic achievements in Indian Cinema. If just a producer’s citizenship is considered over the spirit and soul of the remaining 100 plus (Indian citizens) dreams in telling a story, I’d definitely call this an unfair decision. You didn’t fail just this team’s spirit but of many others who want to invest their money and time in their country and its people.

Make In India Or Made In India? What Does This Propaganda Imply

Continuing the above thought, for a moment, let’s understand the implication of this decision- to snub a movie of such nationalistic relevance would have on the future of film making. While understanding that, let’s keep in mind the bigger picture that this very ‘actively global’ government has been shoving down our throats- MAKE IN INDIA. Now, the last time I checked ‘Make In India’ as a campaign was inviting investments, in the form of FDI’s, from all over the globe, and of course ‘helping’ international companies to set up their turnkey projects here in India.

Exhibit A: Apple Development Center, Xaiomi Build Center, Trump Tower, IKEA and many more, that every politician worth his salt in this country, rolls and smiles proudly with their blowjob eyes. So, tell me now then in the grand scheme of things, where exactly does ‘We’ll snub a film from National recognition because it’s produced by a Non-Resident Indian’ fit in. It doesn’t right? Oh but it does, because the weird logic that I can think of is that the National Film Board is constituted and governed by cine-thinkers belonging to the Neanderthal age, who think Indian movies need to be made by ‘Us’ and Us does not include Americans of Indian Origin.

Us is a producer who will not take a risk of making a movie with an incredibly nuanced story carried to the screens by a range of non-actors acting their hearts out, and a sincere soul of a storyteller who strived for decades to bring his story to life. The problem is ‘Us’ includes us who fail to believe and fail to ask a question. Of course, a government run by a man whose utmost priority is building a statue and greenlighting a movie on, drumroll, himself, would be interested in thumping his chest with Hyper-Nationalism, and not the celebration of pure and poignant storytelling. By all means, give Akshay Kumar a National award for Robo 2, for his “layered” performance yes?

What Do We Give And When Do We Stop

If a movie made in India about people in India, talking about the social issues existing in India, is not nationalistic enough, then I don’t know what is? Shot completely in the beautiful countryside of India, providing employment and opportunities for ‘Rural Indians’, what more do you want? Isn’t your utterly flawed ‘Pradhan Mantri Kushal Vikas Yojna’ enough to tell you that you simply lack the skillset to understand how the national interest works? You want the film board to work in the same manner?

C/O Kancharapalem, which by the way earned great acclaim at the New York Indian Film Festival, remains sadly rejected by the Nation. You know why… ‘Hey, we have rules… rules man… rules that even we cannot justify, but exist for fuck’s sake. So, here, take this beautiful piece of art and shove it up your ass. And hey… Mera Bharath Mahan’. Going with that logic, why the hell do we need any kind of FDI at all.

On the flip side, any Karan Johar movie is majorly outside India. Last time I checked, the shoot cost was not being repatriated to Indian exchequer. So wait a minute, you are ok, that a producer of Indian Origin, can spend millions outside (note our currency is already on the devaluation spree in comparison to Pounds and Dollars) and you bully out someone who is actually bringing money into the country. Waah…whattey economics. Mind-boggling.

And to wrap it up, why this royal snubbing irritates me is that when you do not recognise a film at a national level, you deny opportunities to those who deserve it. And your snubbing is based on a flawed and outdated framework. I can’t speak for Ms Praveena (producer of the film), but if I were her, I would now prefer investing in something which will be appreciated by the government. Perhaps a documentary on a man who is so narcissistic that he needs to fund his own biopic. Now that would be some wildly acclaimed movie. I’d watch that. Alas, my government wouldn’t.