Dubai Keralites lobby for Oscar-bound movie

A Dubai-based Indian college alumni will start a global campaign to support lobbying and marketing for the Oscar nomination of an award-winning Indian movie, 'Aadaminte Makan Abu' (Abu, Son of Adam).

The film short listed for Oscar nominations in the foreign films category, features Salim Kumar, an alumni member who has bagged the best national award.

The movie that bagged four national awards including the best actor award is currently shortlisted as one of the nominations for the Oscar Award.

Saleem Kumar (SK), the mimicry artist turned comedian Malayalam actor, who played the role of Abu, an old Muslim perfume dealer of Malabar region,  has bagged the best national actor award for his role in the film. The movie tells the story of an old poor Muslim couple who  encountered several challenges for going to the Muslim pilgrimage of  Haj. More than 750 members and family members of the Alumni association will come together to support SK and the movie'2s nomination, said Shivadasa Menon, President of the Association.

Friends of Salim, another support group is also organising a public programme at the Irani Club Dubai to screen the movie and interact with the movie team of director, actors, actresses and other technicians behind the movie.

The old Muslim couple in their 70s encounter several challenges to fulfil their aspirations to go for Haj strictly following the Islamic values and even their son who has migrated to the Middle East did not help the old couple. The couple could not perform the Hajj, as they wanted to strictly follow the Islamic rules, and did not want to take an interest paying loan or violate other Shariah compliant rules to perform Hajj. Ultimately the poor perfume dealer did not perform Hajj, as the poor person living in the right Islamic values. 

SK who started his career as a mimicry artist earning Rs250 per day, rose to national prominence after he won the best actor national award, but his peers in the Malayalam film industry did not welcome the news in good spirit. Salim, who has acted in more than hundred Malayalam movies as a comedian with the South Indian superstars, has done three serious roles including his role in Adaminte Makan Abu, which is now nominated for Oscar screening. Rasool Pookkutty, a Sound artist, is the only Malayali who could bag an Oscar award for his role in the Slum Dog Millionaire. SK said the campaign is not to raise money for the lobbying but to create people aware of the movie and its message. He could not go to Makkah because he is a Hindu. However, SK has financed the Hajj pilgrimage of a poor Keralite, who could not find his own resources to perform Hajj. The UAE Chapter of the SNMC Alumni Global Association is starting the campaign on Friday to help lobby for the Oscar award. The alumni is stepping  to campaign for the movie as the major film chambers and film associations back home have neglected the movie and the national award winning hero, Salim Kumar.

Speaking to 'Emirates24|7', Salim Kumar said he was astonished by the fact that the major South Indian film chambers and associations did  not even congratulate him for winning the national award, let alone support the Oscar ambitious of the movie director. “Already an agent has been appointed for marketing, lobbying and screening before the US jury members deciding the award. 'Adaminte Makan Abu' has won four national awards - best film, actor, photography and background music.

The movie did not do well on the box-offices and the collection was relatively better from the Muslim dominated Malabar region,” he said. Even in Dubai, it did not do well in the theatres here and about 10,000 DVD copies are distributed among the film enthusiasts and Indian community members. A public screening of the movie is planned at the Irani Club and the movie stars and director will be interacting with the Indian community audience. “I am a member of Amman (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists). Nobody from the association even called me or congratulated me on winning a national award. Now I have received offers to act in a Mani Ratnam movie and there is a plan to remake the film in four major Indian languages including Hindi.”

The Oscar Nomination Committee of the Film Federation of India selected the film from 16 films shortlisted by affiliated associations. The film had bagged three other national awards for best actor, best cinematographer and best background score.  It is recommended in the in the foreign language category and director Salim Ahmed is unable to raise Rs 2 crore required for the promotion  of the film in the US for the Oscar jury. The film director has turned to Bollywood superstar, Amir Khan, for help. Amir Khan’s Peopli Live was nominated for Oscars last year, but could not make it.

“A lot of lobbying and marketing is needed to improve the propsects of getting short listed for the Oscar award.. About Rs 6 million is already spend for the promotion and more support is coming from various corners for the movie,” said the team members behind the film. Even thought it has been not a big hit at the box office, it is a commercially successful venture.

“The best support from the Indian Government for the movie came in the form of four national awards. I am proud that the SNMC Alumni Global Association is starting a campaign to promote the movie through a global campaign from Dubai.

The alumni has brought in Salim Kumar, the national award winner, Sareena Wahab, the heroine, Salim Ahmed, the film director, and photographer Madhu Ambatt for their Onam celebrations on November 4, 2011 at the Philadelphia School, Al Qusais.

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