Aren't we all crazy for Oscars? The Academy Awards are one of the most coveted forms of recognition for any piece of cinematic art. In January every year, the entertainment community turns their attention to the ceremony. Movie buffs all over the world go through a plethora of emotions as anticipation builds to the Oscar and millions of people glue themselves to the telecast. The craze among Indians has only increased after Lagaan and Slumdog Millionaire made it big at the Academy Awards in 2001 and 2009 respectively. And the ceremony itself is always newsworthy--whether it is an Oscar selfie or a speech.
Any movie that bags a nomination at the Oscars is considered to be a quality film in itself, whether or not it ends up winning the 'golden lady'. While India has never won an award in the 'Best Picture' category, this hasn't let our hopes down. Over the past few years, India has made more than 45 submissions to the Oscars!
India's Oscar journey traces back to 1957 when 'Mother India' became the first-ever movie from the country to be nominated for the coveted Academy Awards. But before we head to all the nominations, let us look back at the Oscar award winners who've made the country proud.
2009 was a landmark year for India. Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto starrer Slumdog Millionaire swept away the Oscars by winning three awards. AR Rahman won Best Original Score and he also picked up another award along with legendary lyricist Gulzar Sahab in the Best Original Song category. The movie was set in India, but it resonated with Indians across the globe. It was the enthralling music composition by National Award-winning music maestro AR Rahman in the song Jai Ho that reverberated with everyone and conveyed the sentiment of the movie. It was no ordinary feat for AR Rahman who made history during the 81st Academy Awards by becoming the first Indian to win two Oscar Awards.
Slumdog Millionaire is a movie that resonated a lot with the audience through sound, besides the brilliant storyline and acting performances. That is why, the third Oscar in 2009 went to Resul Pookutty, who became the third Indian that year to bring the 'golden lady' back home. He won in the category of Best Sound Mixing for his magnificent contribution to the blockbuster of the year.
While most of us give major chunk of credit to just the acting performances, there is another field that's equally challenging and pivotal to any character in a movie: costume designing. A revered figure in Bollywood, Bhanu Athaiya’s work has been lauded by both the audience and critics for decades. She made the country proud by winning Best Costume Design award for British director Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi in 1982. Bhanu Athaiya gave an authentic look to all the characters playing crucial roles in Mahatma Gandhi's biopic and we must say she did a fantastic job. She was the first Indian to win Oscar award in India. Also, she was the only Indian working as part of the crew while the movie was getting filmed in England. Gandhi went on to sweep a total of eight Oscars!
Athaiya is not unknown to appreciation. Her work has been praised in Bollywood blockbusters like CID, Pyaasa, Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Guide, and many others.
In 1992, Satyajit Ray received the honorary Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy Award jury. The filmmaker has entertained the audience in the past with amazing creations such as Charulata, Apur Sansar and Pather Panchali. Ray is seen as a man with an unmatched vision, an illustrious writer, publisher and film critic combined. His work in Pather Panchali, was well lauded by the critics. His first Bengali film, Pather Panchali revolutionised the world cinema. It went on to become the first official entry from India into the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category in 1958. While Ray couldn’t attend the Oscars held in Los Angeles that year because he was keeping unwell, he, however, made his acceptance speech from the hospital bed.
Breaking the stereotype and stigma attached around the menstrual cycle, Period. End of Sentence is a short film that not only made it to the Academy Awards but also ended up bagging an Oscar earlier this year. The movie successfully captures the struggles of women in rural India. Period is a strong reflection into the Indian reality, which depicts how rural women don't know what a sanitary napkin is and have no means to be even able to afford it. Guneet Monga, who has also made films like The Lunchbox and Masaan, has been an executive producer on Period. She helped the entire cast and crew from the U.S to shoot in India. She went on to receive an Oscar for her contribution and we all are so proud.
While India has won Oscars just a limited few times, we have, however, had multiple submissions and nominations at the coveted platform. India's first submission went in 1957 for the Best Foreign Language Film Category. In 2017, out of all the movies submitted, only three made it to the nominations. We've got you a list of all the individuals/movies that made it to the Academy Awards nominations. And the Oscar nearly goes to...
Mehboob Khan directorial Mother India (starring Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, and Raaj Kumar) was India's first nomination to the Oscars in 1958. The remarkable movie, however, lost to Nights of Cabiria with just one vote. It can be rightly said that the audience laughed with the characters of Mother India and also cried with them. The movie revolved around Radha (played by Meena Kumari), an archetypal Indian widow and her life struggles. The movie intrigued the audience and touched everyone's heart, for it beautifully depicted the tale of a mother who ends up killing her own son.
In 1978, a short film directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, An Encounter With Faces, was nominated in the Best Documentary Short Subject category. The movie, however, did not win, but did create a lot of buzz. The movie focuses on a group of children in an orphanage and captures the sufferings of children who live in Dongri and Mankhurd areas of Mumbai.
One of the finest producers and directors from India, Ismail Merchant bagged several nominations at the Academy Awards. A Room with a View, produced by Ismail, received universal critical acclaim and was nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture) at the 59th Academy Awards and won three. It also picked up five British Academy Film Awards and a Golden Globe.
Other movies produced by Ismailm like Howards End and The Remains Of The Day were also nominated for the Oscars in 1993 and 1994 respectively.
Searing, yet full of innocence, Salaam Bombay! was India's 1988 nomination at the Oscars. Written and directed by Mira Nair, the movie chronicles the lives of children living in the slums of Mumbai. Despite the subject being quite a common one, Salaam Bombay remains one of the most impressive movies till date. Not only did the movie make it to the Oscars, it also won the National Award. Mira's film was also included in The New York Times' list of best 1000 movies ever made in the history of filmmaking across the globe.
In the year 2002 after Aamir Khan starrer Lagaan made it to the 74th Academy Awards, Indians were hoping to bring the trophy back home. Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the movie was about a sports-drama which amalgamated patriotism and cricket. Bollywood was struggling around those years to produce meaningful content in cinema; therefore, Lagaan was a breakthrough and an achievement. The movie made for a perfect nominee which the entire country unanimously cheered for. Lagaan was a huge blockbuster and received a lot of applause of its unique storytelling coupled with masterful and engaging performances. The movie kept everyone hooked till the last ball and had historical references to it, which made the topic globally relevant and justifiably so the perfect nominee for Oscars.
The film could not emerge as a winner at the Academy Awards, but it did end up winning eight National Film Awards.
Little Terrorist chronicles the life of a Pakistani Muslim boy who accidentally crossed the India-Pakistan border. He is later taken in by an orthodox Hindu family who was skeptical about allowing a Muslim boy to seek shelter at their home. Innocent Jamal, who unknowingly crossed the border fence in order to fetch a ball, was later protected the family when the security forces came looking for him the village. Much of an underdog, the movie features in the list of '10 Shorts You Must See'.
Water is a 2005 Indo-Canadian drama film written and directed by Deepa Mehta. The movie was Deepa's last installment of her Elements trilogy. It was preceded by Fire which released in 1996 and Earth which hit the screens in 1998. With screenplay by Anurag Kashyap, the movie starred John Abraham and Lisa Ray in lead roles. It was set in 1938 and explored the lives of widows who lived at an ashram in Varanasi. Water focusses on issues like misogyny and the prevalent patriarchy in Indian society. It also throws light upon socio-cultural deprivation faced by widows in India.
Part of an intriguing series of films, Water is a dark introspect, which has been interestingly portrayed through amazing screenplay and cinematography. The critically acclaimed movie premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival and was also honored with the Opening Night Gala. It also was released across Canada in November 2005.
Apart from getting the 'golden lady' twice for Slumdog Millionaire, AR Rahman has also been nominated in Best Original Song category of 127 Hours in 2011. The movie is a biographical survival drama directed and co-written by Danny Boyle. The film also stars James Franco, Kate Mara as well as Amber Tamblyn. The movie revolves around the character of Aron Ralston, who is looking to escape after he gets trapped in an isolated canyon in Utah by a boulder.
Bombay Jayashri was nominated in the Original Song category for the movie Life Of Pie. Jayashri's song Pi's Lullaby made it to the nominations in 2013. She composed the track with Michael Danna. In 2013, Carnatic vocalist Jayashri was the only Indian to be nominated for Life of Pi. Although the track is quite subtle and simple, Jayashri was quite thrilled to see her composition get recognised at the Academy Awards.
62 years down the line, we are still waiting for the Best Picture trophy. The latest in the league, now, is Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy. All eyes are now on the Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt starrer because it is India's official entry to the Oscars in 2019.
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