Jallikattu doesn’t stand a chance in hell at the Oscars

We have pinned our hopes on Jallikattu the Malayalam film that goes to the Oscars this year, and which many feel can “crack it”

Photo Courtesy: Social Media
Photo Courtesy: Social Media
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Subhash K Jha

I am amused to see how optimistic our cineastes get every year about winning the Oscar in spite of being snubbed out of the race every time. Now we have pinned our hopes on Jallikattu the Malayalam film that goes to the Oscars this year, and which many feel can “crack it”.

It’s a cracked film for sure. Variety called it a “bonkers” film. Sure enough there is an element of madness in the storytelling and in the way the characters erupt in a sea of anarchy at the bullish provocation. .As a bull goes on a rampage in a village, the locals go off in the deep end with their own personal agenda, settling scores in an unsettling wave of selfinterest. As the fractured community goes into toxic gear, it’s hard to tell which is more rampageous, the bull or the local community.

Critics feel if Bong Joon Ho’s Korean film Parasite could win the Oscar for Best Picture why can’t Jallikattu crack it in the Best International film category? Firstly I don’t know how Parasite managed the miracle. It is an overrated and deeply flawed film leaving many questions on class difference unanswered. Secondly Parasite had a massive marketing campaign in operation for the Oscars. The Jallikattu team barely has ticket fare to fly to LA for the Oscars.

There is a ferocious fracas at the heart of this unnerving film. It is original but extremely violent. And to be honest, after a point I found the gore to be a bore. I have a feeling the Oscars jury would feel the same way. Though Jallikattu is splendidly executed and edited it finally left me feeling sick at the pit of my stomach.


These are enormously ill-behaved characters battling the bull within as the one outside goes on its own trip.

Incidentally the ancient practice of Jallikattu was attempted to be banned in 2017. Tamil Nadu was outraged. Actress-politician Khushboo Sunder had said to me, " “We in Tamil Nadu are law-abiding citizens and respect the honourable Supreme Court’s order. But we cannot be isolated .We need a chance to voice our opinion to the apex court. All Tamilians are united . We believe in Jallikattu. Jallikattu is our pride. It's been there for a 1000 years. You cannot take away Jallikattu from a Tamilian. The movement is revolutionary. Mahatma said "be the change you want to see".We will bring in the change we want to see. We will welcome regulations, but why ban our heritage? PETA sees only one side of the coin. A bull is family to a farmer. Much economical goodness is attached as the breeding depends on Jallikattu. A particular breed of bull is used for Jallikattu which the PETA is clueless about.”

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