The story of 39-year-old filmmaker Salim Ahamed and his debut feature film Adaminte Makan Abu (Abu, Son of Adam), India’s official entry to next year’s Oscars, has many parallels. The studied pace of the film, almost geriatric in its movements punctuated by deep sighs and silences, captures the travails of a septuagenarian couple Abu and Aishuamma (essayed by Salim Kumar and Zarina Wahab) attempting to fulfil a life-long dream to go on Haj to Mecca. Abu, who sells unrefined attar and religious books to a deodorised world, tightens his dhoti, skips meals and quenches his hunger with water from a roadside well. He believes that Allah will never accept a hajji who makes the hallowed pilgrimage on borrowed money and thus he refuses his neighbour’s offer of financial help. Now, Salim Ahamed needs about Rs 2 crore to take his film to Los Angeles and promote it. But it comes as no surprise, given the subject of the movie, that he will not accept money from fans or borrow from friends to promote his film: that’d be betraying the spirit of the film. He is looking for corporate sponsors or state funding.
So what are the chances of this regional, low-budget film being nominated for the Oscars? Without too much fanfare, it has to get noticed on its own merit. The initial reports have been quite positive. “Whether it is big budget or low budget, the film should have the potential to break the barrier of audiences of all genres. Then it definitely has a chance. The buzz after the official screening of Abu has been amazing. It has a huge chance,” says Dolly Kapoor, the publicity agent for the film in the US. One Academy member mailed Ahamed after the official screening, saying: “I have been in the business for 30 years. When we left the small theatre we were on fire with awe and wonder at how you had captured lightning in a bottle and with the stroke of a master.” Ahamed hopes like-minded well-wishers will help carry his film to the Kodak theatre for the Oscar awards in February. He hopes the real-life script will have a happier ending—in the movie, Abu doesn’t get to go on Haj after all.
Instead of squandering rare resources in the Oscar Race.. maybe a better option for Salim is to conserve his resources and energy and embark upon a new film.. and also dub his film for a nation-wide release (hopefully tax-exemptions from States and wee bit of help from PVR & Reliance / Fun Cinemas it could have a go through the multi-plex route?)
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