Oscars 2019: Bollywood cinematographers, film editors criticise Academy's decision to omit four categories from telecast
Bollywood film editors Namrata Rao and Aarti Bajaj and cinematographers Anil Mehta and Rajiv Menon weigh in on the Academy's decision to present four key Oscars during the commercial breaks.
(with inputs from Simran Singh)
The Academy's decision to present four technical awards during the commercial breaks of this year's broadcast of the Oscars ceremony has drawn the ire of many on social media, including those from the film industry. The Oscars for cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling and live-action short will be presented off-air at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony in an attempt to shorten the show to three hours. The winning speeches will be edited and aired separately later in the telecast.
The decision, however, has drawn widespread criticism from Oscar-winning filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron. Many established directors (like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino), cinematographers (like Roger Deakins and Emmanuel Lubezki) and film editors (like Tom Cross and William Goldenberg) have even signed an open letter in response to the Academy's controversial plan.
Noted members from the Bollywood fraternity too weighed in on the issue. National Award-winning film editor Namrata Rao (Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, Ishqiya, Band Baaja Baaraat, Kahaani) echoed del Toro's sentiment, saying: "I don’t understand it at all because I feel that editing and cinematography are at the heart of the craft itself. How can you have cinema without these things? When I was reading today that they’re trying to rotate it but I don’t agree with the fact because these are very important things in cinema. But it happens in Indian award functions also. You always look forward to it (you always watch Oscars) when I just started out, I used to really look out who's winning the editing award. These things inspire you. So, if you don’t have that, it sends a message that these things are not important which is not true. You can’t make films without these things.
Ace cinematographer Anil Mehta (Lagaan, Saathiya,Veer-Zaara and Jab Tak Hai Jaan) said, "I always felt that awards functions were tailored as TV shows and showed scant regard for the 'non glamorous' categories. I did however feel that the Oscars were a class apart particularly because the amount of international attention it gets and because the jury is from within the industry professionals. The decision to exclude cinematography and editing from the live showing is really distressing. Ironically, the chairman of the Academy is himseld a respected Cinematographer — John Bailey, whom I hold in high regard. Just last year, they extended invitations to a cinematographer, editor and sound designer from India. I saw it as a recognition of the key disciplines of filmmaking. And now this. (Alfonso) Cuaron's criticism is really welcome as only a director recognises the true worth of the cinematographer's contribution."
Fellow cinematographer Rajiv Menon, who has been a frequent collaborator on many of Mani Ratnam's productions from Bombay (1994) to Kadal (2013), too joined in on the criticism of the Academy's decision. "I think when cinema started and when cinema was without stars, it was the shooting and putting shots together. The real craft of cinema which differentiates every other craft is cinematography. Cinematography is the eye of cinema and what makes cinema a visual medium and it's editing which helps put the film together in a temporary context. So, without recognising those two, I don’t think there's any reason why you should recognise any other award…they are more important than any other award. When you can give music composing awards and you think that cinematography and editing is not important then, there is something seriously wrong with the committee."
Acclaimed film editor Aarti Bajaj (Jab We Met, Aamir, Rockstar, Highway) said: "I think it is the stupidest idea. I always believed that technical awards were anyway never taken seriously and it just proves that if Oscars are doing it, I don’t know what to expect from any other award show anymore to be honest. This is a disaster and completely disrespectful."
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