On Why Rang De Basanti Would’ve Never Gotten That Oscar

This is a short essay about my personal feelings about why India’s entry to the Oscars, Rang De Basanti and why it would’ve never gotten the Academy’s Award.

Let me tell you first off, that I have no authority whatsoever, on the technical side to really make any comments. But I do have every authority as a discerning viewer to make these comments.

Plus it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to!

What follows is a list of movies which have won the Oscars which I have actually watched. Therefore, my commentary on the subject above will be a comparison to these movies, especially regarding my favorite part of any movie – The Plot.

So here is the list: (Credit to Wikipedia for the info)

1939: Gone With The Wind
1941: How Green Was My Valley
1943: Casablanca
1958: Gigi
1959: Ben-Hur
1964: My Fair Lady
1965: The Sound of Music
1972: The Godfather
1979: Kramer vs Kramer
1982: Gandhi
1984: Amadeus
1987: The Last Emperor
1988: Rain Man
1990: Dances With Wolves
1991: The Silence of The Lambs
1993: Schindler’s List
1994: Forrest Gump
1995: Braveheart
1997: Titanic
1998: Shakespeare in Love
1999: American Beauty
2000: Gladiator
2001: A Beautiful Mind
2002: Chicago
2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004: Million Dollar Baby
2006: The Departed


I have personally watched all these movies, some of them several times as I happen to own the CD of a few of these movies.

What struck me odd when I saw RDB (Rang De Basanti) was how the writer could take such a beautifully constructed plot and then screw it all in the end. For the most part, the movie went down well with audiences in India and even with me, till I saw the end.

The movie captures the angst of the urban and rural youth of India. The youth who are stuck within traps of their own making for the most part. With an ample dash of nationalistic fervor thrown in for good measure. Concurrent to the story is the dairy of a young British woman’s grandfather who witnessed the hanging of Bhagat Singh. So while she chucks it all in Britain to come film her dream movie, she encounters these people. She sees shadows of the characters of her film in all of them and they are all thrown into a mish-mash of flashbacks and current events occurring in the movie. All this was very well done.

The script then began to screw up big time. While the story established the need of the characters to gain justice, albeit through the time tested method of Satyagraha, they then resort to killing of the corrupt politician.

What did not go down well with me was when they took over the Radio Station (??!!) and began telling the world what they had done, the army commandos attack them and shoot them on sight. I know for a fact that the Army or the Police are legally not allowed to do that. They cannot shoot unless the firing comes first from the other side. In the movie, they did not even try to negotiate. They just shot the characters. Which was the most unrealistic part of the movie.

After killing the politician, why didn’t these people simply turn themselves in? This would have been more in keeping with the story so far.

Or they could have just exposed the corrupt politician in the media and gotten their revenge.

I mean, at the end of it all, it was just a waste!

So, if I compare this movie with all the movies listed above, I find it sadly lacking in coherence vis-à-vis the plot and storyline and the actual culmination of the development of the characters over the duration of the story.

India making its foray into the Oscars is all very nice. But they have to realize that formulae that work with the Rickshawallah crowd do not work with the Academy.

Even though a movie may have an innovative presentation style, it may not be competent enough. Most movie makers forget that the basis of any good movie is still its script, and not the popularity of the actors, songs or technical innovation. There are other awards for such categories.

From my point of view, a movie becomes a ‘Best Picture’ if it qualifies on all these fronts and more. The movie has to satisfy the viewers with the quality of the storyline and has to be pretty much logically in line with the build-up of the story. The climax must certainly not be an anti-climax. The movie and its (ill)logical ending must make sense to those evolved sensibilities and intellects sitting there and voting for the movie.

Language is never a barrier. I have seen Chinese movies with subtitles which make more sense that this movie.

Movies like RDB will never win an Oscar. My Humble Suggestions:

Write a good plot. Re-Write it. Let it at least make sense. Read it from a third person’s point of view. Read it from a point of view of a person who is a total stranger to Indian culture, way of life etc. Technically making a movie up to par with international standards is just not good enough. The story should be that way too. A random stranger from any part of the world should be able to easily relate to the conflict within the character and characters, very easily.

Perhaps, then we may even win an Oscar or two!