Directed by Shoojit Sircar, Vicky Kaushal’s Sardar Udham follows the life of revolutionary Udham Singh, who was radicalised following the brutal massacre at Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 at the hands of the British. The film was well-received, with critics largely praising the film’s handling of sensitive themes of violence and racism.
Amongst the 14 shortlisted films for India’s 2022 Oscars entry, Sardar Udham was one of the most popular contenders, however, the biopic did not make the cut. Even though the Jury explained the reason for their selection, fans were not pleased by the decision.
In a conversation with the Times Of India, Indraadip Dasgupta, a jury member commented on the portrayal of colonisation and subsequent violence in the film. “Sardar Udham is a little lengthy and harps on the Jallianwala Bagh incident. It is an honest effort to make a lavish film on an unsung hero of the Indian freedom struggle. But in the process, it again projects our hatred towards the British. In this era of globalization, it is not fair to hold on to this hatred.”
Another explanation given for the movie’s rejection was its length and delayed climax. Sumit Basu, another member of the jury, praised the cinematic quality and production but expressed reservations with the film, saying, “I thought the length of the film was an issue. It has a delayed climax. It takes a lot of time for a viewer to feel the real pain for the martyrs of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.”
Whether fair or not, the jury’s explanation did not sit well with the fans of the film. Many took on their social media handles to criticise the decision and the dual standards of the decision-making body. Some fans even compared Sardar Udham to the 2008 Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire to make their point about the jury’s hypocrisy.
Making his point about the hypocrisy, a fan tweeted, “So Indian kids lathered in poop, begging and fending for themselves in Slumdog Millionaire is more palatable as a representation of Indians. But a realistic depiction of the horrifying acts of British imperialism in our country is problematic? #SardarUdham.”
So Indian kids lathered in poop, begging and fending for themselves in Slumdog Millionaire is more palatable as a representation of Indians. But a realistic depiction of the horrifying acts of British imperialism on our country is problematic? #SardarUdham pic.twitter.com/tQwpYFZ79o
— ANMOL JAMWAL (@jammypants4) October 25, 2021
A Twitter user responded to Dasgupta’s explanation and wrote, “Showing Indian poverty can win Oscars. But showing British treatment towards Indians cannot be even considered for Oscars. Hats off to your logic Mr. Dasgupta #SardarUdham.”
Showing Indian poverty can win Oscars. But showing British treatment towards Indians cannot be even considered for Oscar’s. Hats off to your loyic Mr Dasgupta#SardarUdham
— Amaira (@critiqueamaira) October 26, 2021
Another furious fan took to Twitter and wrote, “The Jury had rejected the movie #SardarUdham as an official entry to Oscar 2020 as “It projects hatred towards the British”! Unbelievable… A film on (freedom fighters) Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh and they expect a display of bhaichara (brotherhood) of the British Rule?” So much for advocacy and justice.
The Jury had rejected the movie #SardarUdham as an official entry to Oscar 2020 as “It projects hatred towards the British” !
Unbelivable …A film on Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh and they expect what..to show some bhaichara to the British Rule?
— Mahua/ মহুয়া (@mahuadey20) October 26, 2021