Answering the riddle: does 'Paheli' deserve it?

Sep 30, 2005 Subhash K. Jha, Sep 30

Mumbai, Sep 30 (IANS) The selection of Amol Palekar's "Paheli" as India's official entry to the coveted Oscar award has evoked mixed reactions.

The Shah Rukh Khan starrer was chosen over 14 films including "Swades", "Veer-Zara", "Black", "Parineeta" and "Mangal Pandey" - each, their fans say, worthy of the honour. The debate, then, is whether "Paheli" deserved the selection.

Here's what noted film personalities told IANS:

Anant Mahadevan: Frankly it beats me why we don't delve into regional cinema to represent us at the Oscars. They've some world-class cinema in Bengali and Malayalam. But strangely, till today, Adoor Gopalkrishnan, whom I rate on a par with Ray and Ghatak, hasn't found an Oscar entry. If "Paheli" has found favour, it must have been due its author Vijaydaan Detha. His story is deep-rooted to Indian culture and tradition.

"Paheli" needs to be trimmed down to a 100 minutes' running time. It may then stand a good chance of a favourable viewing. "Black" fell out of favour for its obvious source of inspiration. "Paheli" has some stunning visuals and fulfils Shah Rukh Khan's dream of scoring equal points with Aamir as far as an Oscar representation goes.

Hansal Mehta: I'm dismayed, when people talk about "Black" not being original. There's hardly a frame in "Black" comparable with "The Miracle Worker". Also, what do they mean when they claim "Paheli" to be original? Mani Kaul filmed the same story as "Duvidha" two decades ago. As for the language, "Black" speaks the language of the heart. Sign language doesn't have to be in English or Hindi.

Asha Parekh: I can't understand how "Paheli" was selected. I feel it should've been "Black" or "Veer-Zara". Both of them are such lovely films and with such a positive message of humanism.

Subhash Ghai: "Paheli" represents Indian culture, ethos, myths and beliefs. It's based on an original work of an Indian writer from Rajasthan. These are the elements that may have tilted the scales towards "Paheli" and away from other good films. I'm on the Emmy awards jury and I know how tough it is to judge when there're so many deserving creations. I'm happy my "Iqbal" was considered for this honour. I'm happy for Shah Rukh and his team.

Victor Bannerjee: I think Paheli is a worthy enough choice that represents the spirit and colour of India.

Vipul Shah: It's surprising. No one expected this. But if the jury didn't want "Black", then there wasn't much of a choice.

Madhavan: I think "Black" should've been selected as the Indian entry for the Oscar. This is clearly not a fair and unbiased selection. My heart reaches out to Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

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