Monday, May 08, 2006

Indian Films at the Academy Awards (Oscars)

Every year we send one Indian film as an official Indian entry for the Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars. However, considering that we are one of the largest film producing country in the world, it would not be too difficult to figure out that we have not had great many movies which actually get nominated in the Best Foreign Film category. We have had only three Indian films which have actually managed to take that big step forward to have been nominated in the Best Foreign Film Category at the Academy Awards. These films are:

1. Mehboob Khan’s MOTHER INDIA starring Nargis, Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt

2. Mira Nair’s SALAAM BOMBAY and

3. Ashutosh Gowariker’s LAGAAN starring Aamir Khan and Gracy Singh.

Since last quite a few years, the quality of films representing Indian film industry is not so good (and quite often questionable and full of controversy) with the lone exception of Aamir Khan / Ashutosh Gowarikar's Lagaan. However, from the articles that I have read on the net, this year there seems to be good chance for Water, directed by Deepa Mehta to make it to the main category at the Oscars including the Best Foreign Film as well as Best Original Score (by A. R. Rahman). Water is the final film of her trilogy (the earlier two movies being Fire and Earth).

One more interesting trivia about Indian films at Oscars is that out of all the other films that have been nominated as India’s entry at the Academy Awards, the maximum (6) have been been movies with Kamal Haasan as the lead actor.

1. HEY RAM directed by Kamal Haasan (2000)

2. INDIAN directed by Shankar (1996)

3. KURUDHI PUNAL directed by Kurudhi Punal (1995)

4. THEVAR MAGAN directed by Bharathan (1992)

5. NAYAGAN directed by Mani Ratnam (1987)

6. SWATHI MUTHYAM directed by Dr.K.Vishwanath – (1986)


KBR said...

Indians who have won oscars - bhanu athaiya (costume for gandhi) and satyajit ray life time acheivement.

Nayakan probably did not win, coz it was inspired by the godfather.

paheli, an oscar entry from india and we wonder why we dont get nominated let alone win, absloute trash.

devdas was trash, legend of bhagat singh is a classic and should have been nominated instead.

Water will be a strong contender coz it has created waves in the interantional festivals.

pappupager said...

Actually, the whole process of selecting an official Indian entry to the Oscars is extremely questionable. It is anybody's guess as to the amount of lobbying that goes into the final nomination of Indian entry at the Oscars. Enough has been said about this issue and lot of ink has been spilt over this. How can movies like Devdas or Paheli be even considered as Indian entry? I have read that the jury members could not even sit through the first half of Devdas. I just shudder to think of the jury's reaction to an absolute non-starter that Paheli was.

Advait said...

Most of the films which win the Best Foreign Film award are non-commercial cinema pertaining to a social / political problem of the day and age (e.g., Tsotsi, No Man's Land, Life is Beautiful).

Pure commerical film winners in this category are few.

Even amongst India's entries, the one that made it was Salaam Bombay. Lagaan was always a long shot, given that it was up against No Man's Land.

On a separate note, I looked up data on the past winners in this category. France and Italy have dominated both nominations and wins. Of the 59 past award winners, France and Italy have won it 10 and 9 times respectively. The next best is Spain with 4. In terms of nominations, France has 34 and Italy has 27. That means that a film from France is nominated in more than 50% of the years.