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What’s scandalous about Suriya’s Jai Bhim paying to feature on the Oscars’ YouTube channel?

With more than 1.6 million views within a week of it being featured on Academy's YouTube channel, Jai Bhim stands as the most popular movie on the Oscars' YouTube channel.

Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru |
Updated: January 26, 2022 8:37:25 am
Jai BhimJai Bhim stars Suriya in the lead.

A scene from Suriya’s Jai Bhim, along with the interview of director T. J. Gnanavel as he breaks down the story narrative, was recently featured on the Oscars YouTube page under the “Scene at the Academy” category. The honour was celebrated in India, with the film’s producers, 2D Entertainment, sharing the achievement on its social media handles, calling it, “An honour of the highest order!” 

However, a few days later, some have played down the achievement and have claimed that a spot can be bought on the YouTube channel at a certain fee. This led to a social media debate, with many accusing filmmakers of indulging in “cheap marketing gimmicks.” The discussions have even turned political, adding to the long list of political controversies that the film has been embroiled in ever since its release last year on Amazon Prime Video.

Despite all the controversies, the film continues to make an impression globally. Soon after Jai Bhim got featured on Oscar’s YouTube channel, the news about the film being part of 276 films that were eligible for the Oscars 2022 came out. Nominations will be announced on Feb. 8.

The critics of Jai Bhim are partially right. The film getting spotlighted on the digital and social media platforms of Oscars is part of a larger marketing campaign. But, sources close to film’s makers say there is nothing “cheap” or “scandalous” about it as marketing remains an integral part of a movie’s success at Oscars. 

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For a film to succeed at the Academy Awards, it is important to create awareness about it, and the Academy helps the filmmakers to reach out to its members through its digital channels. “Scene at the Academy is an opportunity to create exclusive content – spotlighting the filmmaking and creative process behind the movies – for the Academy’s global members and fans,” reads the guidelines explaining the requirements to get featured under Scene At the Academy. 

“The Academy’s Marketing team may also make the content available to the public via Academy digital/social platforms. Members will receive weekly updates about new Academy Screening Room titles and content made available by studios/distributors, and other related materials uploaded by the Academy,” it says. 

Suriya in Jai Bhim.

The filmmakers have to pay a fee of $5000 dollars, approx Rs 3.7 lakh, to access this service of the Academy. 

Director Thomas Vinterberg’s Danish-language film Another Round, which won the Best International Feature Film at the Oscars 2021, had also featured a director’s commentary under the Scene At the Academy. Other Oscar hopefuls of 2022, including Annette and Encanto, also have similar promotional materials on the Academy’s digital platforms. 

Should Jai Bhim make it to the next level and the filmmakers want to go for broke like Vetrimaaran for Visaaranai or Aamir Khan for Lagaan, the producers of this film will have to spend a fortune to promote Jai Bhim to members of the Academy. This is how process for the Oscars, considered one of the most prestigious awards in world cinema, works. 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tRv0L1Xq9Q%5D

“The producers would have appointed an agency (in Los Angeles) which handles such promotions. Not all 276 movies eligible for the Oscars have been featured on the YouTube channel, including Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea. There are films with a bigger budget than Jai Bhim but they all have not been featured on that channel. So we don’t know what’s the logic in it,” said an industry source. 

With more than 1.6 million views within a week of its release, Jai Bhim has emerged as the most popular movie on the Oscar’s YouTube channel. Most of the directors’ commentary of popular Hollywood movies haven’t garnered one-tenth of Jai Bhim’s total views so far. 

Critically acclaimed Jai Bhim is a courtroom drama that shines the light on how the oppressed fall through the gaps and often face discrimination when it comes to getting justice. Suriya essays the role fashioned on real-life lawyer Chandru, who fought for the oppressed all his life.

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