Filmmaker Rahul Rawail, who was part of the selection jury that chose ‘Court’ as India’s official entry for Oscars, resigned from his post the very evening the film was declared as India’s entry. In an exclusive chat with BOOM, Rahul Rawail opens up about the entire controversy.
It has been a week since Chaitanya Tamhane’s film, Court was nominated as India’s entry to the Academy Awards for this year. However, the nomination was not without controversy as one of the selection jury member – Rahul Rawail resigned before the final vote took place.
Rahul Rawail cited differences between him and selection panel chairperson Amol Palekar as the reason for his resignation. He says, “Amol Palekar’s actions of unduly criticising the film, inviting his wife and daughter for the screenings was plain obnoxious behaviour. His wife during the breaks between the film screenings went around to almost all jury members and criticised the film. This was just not done and I took a stand because I could not sit quite about what was happening.”
The Film Federation of India (FFI), which selects the country’s official entry in the Best Foreign Film category of the prestigious Academy Awards, to be held in Los Angeles on February 28 next year, appointed Amol Palekar as the chairman earlier this year.
However, Rahul Rawail stressed that the vote for Court was almost unanimous. Rahul says, “Court is a great effort and it talks about India and the drudgery involved in dealing with a court case. The Director was consistent with the narrative and the viewer gets pulled into the story, feels along with it. I’m proud that we had a great jury and some wonderful people who have a great knowledge of cinema and love for it…So it was a good decision.”
When asked about the considerations that go into choosing a film for the Academy Awards, Rahul explains, “We try and send a film that has India at its heart but has maintained a standard of filmmaking. We are also mindful of the fact that an international jury will choose the final nominations so the film has to be Indian but international in its appeal. Court’s numerous international awards made it a strong contender right from the start.”
Rahul Rawail debuted as director with 1980 Bollywood film Gunehgaar and has since then added 17 films to his name. He was nominated twice in the Best Director category for the Filmfare awards.