Just when one assumed that The Lunchbox, directed by Ritesh Batra, has reached the last leg of its journey, came the news of its nomination in the foreign films category of British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) 2015. To know whether the film lifts the trophy — with the enviable cast of Irrfan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nimrat Kaur (picture below) — one has to wait till Sunday night.
Batra is happy to be nominated along with some of the best films of the world — Ida, Leviathan, Trash and Two Days, and One Night. “It’s an honour to be pitted against these films by filmmakers I love,” he says. Though The Lunchbox has already become one of the top foreign language films worldwide, the nomination might boost its viewership further.
“If you want Indian films to travel, you have to figure out how to access international platforms, such as the Oscars and BAFTA as well as film festivals in Cannes and Berlin,” says Batra. As India’s Oscar entry for the year 2013, The Good Road was chosen over The Lunchbox by a jury constituted by the Film Federation of India. This snowballed into a controversy when Batra and producer Anurag Kashyap questioned the selection process for not being “transparent”. At the National Film Awards 2013, too, The Lunchbox drew a blank.
To ensure that the best Indian films are sent to the Oscars, Batra suggests there be a process and the people on the selection panel be given a criteria to make their choice. “Putting a bunch of people together in a room and giving them a vague criterion like ‘the Indianness of the film’ does not help,” he says. Batra, who is rewriting and revising his next film, Photograph, wants to strike a deal with his next producer not to apply for awards. “Awards do not matter when it comes to connecting with viewers,” says Batra.