For Oscar, RDB banks on universal appeal, Aamir

Sep 26, 2006 Arpana

New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) Producers of Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra's blockbuster "Rang De Basanti" (RDB), India's official entry for the best foreign film category for Oscar 2007, are ready with strategies to lift the coveted award, and they are banking on Aamir Khan's "Lagaan" experience too.

"We have offices in Los Angeles and New York and Aamir is an experienced person. It's a matter of strategising and going about it," Ronnie Screwala of producer UTV said soon after the film as officially selected as India's entry for Oscars.

"It needs a lot of money and we are ready to make the financial commitment. I have asked lots of other studios for help. Its basically about the exposure," Screwala told IANS on phone from Mumbai.

For campaigning, Screwala is depending on Aamir, who did a lot of legwork while promoting his film "Lagaan" which was shortlisted in the same category in 2002.

"Rang De Basanti" has beat "Munnabhai Lage Raho" and "Omkara", among other Oscar contenders, in the race.

Screwala agreed that the competition for the Indian entry was tough but "Rang De Basanti" had a universal appeal.

"'Rang De Basanti' is truly an international film and it has an universal appeal too. It is not just about crime. It is about liberating the youth and it has appealed to the youth all over the world, because everywhere the same problem is being faced," Screwala said.

Talking about the other films in the reckoning, he said: "This year has been pretty good for Indian cinema. New genres of cinema have come about. There have been a lot of excellent films. They have broken the mould. So, the competition was tough.

"This film is very dear to my heart. We screened it at many international platforms and it was hugely appreciated."

The film starring Aamir, Siddharth, Sharman Joshi, Kunal Kapoor, Soha Ali Khan and Alice Patten revolves around a young British filmmaker, Sue (Patten), who comes to India to make a film on the revolutionaries - Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru - who had left an everlasting impression on her grandfather who was a jailer.

The film depicts the awakening of the young generation, inspired by the legendary freedom fighters.

Shyam, the executive producer of the film, is quite upbeat about its prospects at Oscars.

"When we screened the film at the Golden Globes, it got a standing ovation. And after the screening many people came and congratulated Rakeysh for making such an excellent film.

"The film broke the language barriers across the country and I don't think anybody has done that. It was a great job by Rakeysh. We were not sure that it will be nominated as India's official entry but we were sure it is worth it," said Shyam.

He feels that the film stands a good chance at Oscars.

"I know we are competing against some of the great films but we stand a good chance. Like when 'Lagaan' didn't get an Oscar, we were disappointed but after watching 'No Man's Land' people realised why 'Lagaan' lost it.

"Having said that, there would be nothing like getting an Oscar, but if we make it to the best five films list, it would be a great honour for us."

This year only nine filmmakers submitted their films to the Film Federation of India - Rakesh Roshan's "Krrish", Karan Johar's "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna", Naseeruddin Shah's "Yun Hota To Kya Hota", Rajkumar Hirani's "Lage Raho Munnabhai", "Rang De Basanti", Vishal Bharadwaj's "Omkara", Madhur Bhandarkar's "Corporate", Marathi film "Bhook" and Telugu film "Amma Chepindi".

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