Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra’s Serious Men has brought actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the race to win Best Actor trophy at this year’s International Emmy Awards. The veteran director feels the global recognition comes with a stamp of approval for the quality of the project.
“The film will now be noticed by a wider audience, for me that’s really important, that the film crosses cultural boundaries and is seen around the world. Emmy will give it that recognition, a kind of certificate, of quality as they say. I think it is wonderful, and I am so happy for Nawaz. We worked really hard on the film,” Mishra tells us.
The director feels that an Emmy nod is a certificate of being a certain kind of film of a certain quality and craft. “I think a lot of the audience will be drawn to it. The world sees my country through my eyes or the eyes of my contemporary filmmakers. Just as, we see the world through the eyes of many Western and other filmmakers around the world,” adds Mishra.
An adaptation of Manu Joseph’s book of the same name, Serious Men narrates the story of a father, essayed by Siddiqui, who wants to create a bright future for his son. For the prestigious International award, now Siddiqui will be competing with David Tennant (Des), Roy Nik (Normali) and Christian Tappan (The Great Heist).
The nomination itself is a moment of pride for the whole team, feels Mishra. “It is also a recognition for the film, showing that we are all making films of a certain international standard. That’s also a good thing, it’s a kind of recognition of Indian cinema,” asserts the Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003) maker.
He is elated that his vision — which is different from how the West often portrays the country — could transcend borders, and resonate with a wider audience. “You could take an obvious kind of depiction of Indian social reality, one is for example Slumdog (Slumdog Millionaire). But the oppressed are not always lamenting their fate,” says the director, who feels it’s time to shift the narrative and bring forward and outline diverse shades of the country through the creative power of celluloid.
He explains, “That attitude towards them needs to be non-condescending, and they need to be shown as ambitious. I think people found that very refreshing. That also might have resonated with people around the world. I think it is more important for the West to see India as it is and in its various shades, otherwise there is this very patronizingly sympathetic view which is very irritating. I think they need to see India through our eyes, and I think that’s what it achieved to some extent.”
Before wrapping up, Mishra quips that now his career will be divided in “pre Serious Men and a post Serious Men phase”, and he’s eager to witness what the latter chapter has in store for him.