Will 'Parasite' cross 'subtitle barrier' to get best picture Oscar?

New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) Will the genre-bending 'Parasite', a stinging portrayal of class struggles set in South Korea, leapfrog over the 'one inch long subtitle barrier' that its director Bong Joon Ho famously talked about to reach the Oscar stage -- not as a foreign film but as best film.

Coloured in all shades of black, the comedy in Korean has been nominated in six categories at the Academy Awards on Sunday. Whether it breaks through 92 years of Oscar history to win big in the mainstream categories is the question on every cine buff's mind.

The film, made on a budget of USD 11 million, has become one of the top grossing foreign films of all time, earning USD 165 million so far and counting.

In India, too, the film has done 'exceedingly well', said Ashwini Sharma, who distributed the film through his firm Impact Films.

''Parasite' released on January 31 in 76 screens in around 20 plus cities across India with 99 shows daily. It was the widest release ever of any foreign language film (non English) in India. It has done exceedingly well and has carried into the second week with 46 screens,' Sharma told PTI.

The class satire -- about two families at each end of the social spectrum and their points of collision and intersections leading to sometimes comic but ultimately tragic results -- is nominated in the categories of best picture, best director, best production design, best original screenplay, best foreign film and best editing.

If it manages to win Oscar for best picture, it will be the first foreign film to do so and also the first from South Korea.

The Academy Awards, despite their global appeal, are notorious for discriminating against stories in language other than English.

Costa Gavras' 'Z', Roberto Benigni's 'Life is Beautiful', Ang Lee's 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', Michael Haneke's 'Amour' and last year's 'Roma', by Alfonso Cuaron, came close to challenging the language and culture barrier at the Oscars.

'Parasite', many critics and award pundits are hoping, will manage to slide through the opening these films created.

Its spectacular run began last May when it premiered in the Cannes International Film Festival to unanimous praise and an eight-minute standing ovation. The film went on to win the top award of the festival, Palme d'Or.

It continued its winning spree by bagging foreign language trophies at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and the best ensemble cast at the Screen Actors Guild, several writers guild awards and screenplay recognition at the BAFTAs. Bong, aware of the challenges his film faces at the Oscars despite the outpouring of love from award circles in Hollywood and outside it, spoke about the importance of subtitles at the Golden Globes last month.

'Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,' he had said via his interpreter while delivering his speech in Korean.

Bong, who seems to have quite consciously stayed away from speaking English in this awards season, was echoing Cuaron, whose 'Roma' lost the best picture Oscar despite bagging the maximum awards at the Oscars last year. The top award went to 'Green Book'.

Cuaron won the best director award but 'Roma' got best foreign film.

In his Oscar speech, the Mexican director listed American movies 'Citizen Kane', 'Jaws' and 'The Godfather' as the 'foreign films' that he grew up watching in Mexico. Bong's film, which talks about Capitalist anxieties and the growing disparity and mistrust between the rich and the poor, is a hyper local story that has clearly struck a global chord.

'Parasite' shares many thematic similarities with 'Roma'. Both explore the challenges of people living on the margins of the society and the stories are deeply rooted in their country's culture.

Bong, who has been the toast of Hollywood with his charming and irreverent speeches, is not a new name for the foreign audiences. He found fame with his twisted serial-killer drama 'Memories of Murder'.

He, like Cuaron, has also worked in Hollywood for 'Snowpiercer', starring 'Captain America' star Chris Evans and Netflix's 'Okja'. Again, just like Cuaron, Bong has received maximum glory by returning to his roots. PTI BK MIN MIN