I was rooting for India to submit Ritesh Batra’s Sony Pictures Classics pick-up “The Lunchbox,” a warm Mumbai romance starring Irrfan Khan that cut a swath on the festival circuit from Cannes to Telluride and Toronto. But no, The Film Federation of India committee went another way with its official foreign language Oscar entry. They selected relatively unknown Gujarati-language road movie “The Good Road” from first-timer Gyan Correa amid a barrage of negative reaction.
Produced by India’s National Film Development Corporation, the film premiered in July at the London Indian Film Festival and later won the National Film Award for a Gujurati film.
Batra tweeted: “Heartbroken. We could have gone the distance we were told by our U.S. distributors, by the Hollywood press…”
I have not seen “The Good Road.” But “The Lunchbox” had a real shot. This underscores the need for the Academy to revamp the foreign language category, which has been stuck for years. One of the problems of letting individual foreign countries make the call is that they are often myopic if not corrupt and do not necessarily select the film that might best compete against other films for the Oscar.