The countdown has begun to select a film to represent India in the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 90th Academy Awards, which will be held on March 4, 2018, in Los Angeles.
Interestingly, for the first time, a big contingent of film personalities from India has been invited by the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences to join its pool of voters to combat persistent charges of white males monopolising and dominating the Oscars.
Marking the advent of India’s usually short-lived annual Oscar fever, the Mumbai-based Film Federation of India has fixed September 10 as the deadline for submitting entries.
Film Federation of India is authorised to invite nominations and screen them for a jury. This year’s jury is in place but its members can’t be named as per standing rules. Its chairman is yet to be appointed, though.
Supran Sen, Film Federation of India Secretary General, said that 10 entries have been received so far.
The official rationale for this year’s submissions deadline is that the selection committee set up for this purpose will view the films entered for selection from September 16 as we have to submit the film to the Academy not later than October 1, 2017.
Last year, the total number of entries was 30. Visaranai, a Tamil crime-drama about police brutality, was picked as India’s official entry but like other Indian entries over the years, it failed to make it even to the last nine shortlisted titles.
The last time a film from India entered the final shortlist was in 2001 when Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan was selected only to lose to Bosnia’s No Man’s Land.
This year’s favourites are yet to emerge but two likely contenders are Pink, the Amitabh Bachchan-Taapsee Pannu starrer directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, and the Marathi film Sairat, directed by Nagraj Manjule, which made a mark at the Berlin Film Festival.
Despite India’s terrible track record at the Oscars, there is a lot of hype each year underscoring Bollywood’s obsession with Hollywood and the undying craving to be appreciated by Westerners. But Indian entries invariably crumble and are out of the race very quickly.
Thanks to the Academy’s decision to democratise the Oscars by inducting non-whites and women this time, 14 big guns from India will join the voting pool.
The lucky men and women who have been invited are Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan, Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Mrinal Sen, Goutam Ghose, Sooni Taraporevala, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Arjun Bhasin, Anand Patwardhan and Amrit Pritam Dutta.