India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars 2018, Newton, is out of the race for the honour. But the movie’s team is feeling far from defeated.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday announced that nine features out of 92 will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 90th Academy Awards, according to the official website of the Oscars.
Newton, directed by Amit V. Masurkar and starring the stellar Rajkummar Rao in a story set against the backdrop of elections in the world’s largest democracy, was not a part of it.
Masurkar said: “The Foreign Film Category is like the Olympics. We are competing with the best in the world, so it’s extremely tough. The response from Academy members to Newton was very positive and we are grateful to everyone who supported us on this journey.
“The experience has enriched us and has encouraged me to push my limits each time I make a new film.”
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta, who has always lent unrelenting support his blue-eyed boy Rajkummar and Newton — even when it was caught in a plagiarism row, also said that missing the Oscar bus changes nothing for this film’s credentials.
Mehta, claimed he was trolled after Newton was ousted from the competition, tweeted: “Oscars or no Oscars, it remains one of the finest films made in our country in a long time.”
When the film was chosen as India’s Oscar entry by the Film Federation of India, there was buzz that it was inspired by a 2001 Iranian movie titled Secret Ballot.
At that time, Mehta, who has worked closely with Rajkummar on award-winning films like Shahid and CityLights, had spoken out in favour of the Newton team.
Mehta’s latest Twitter post on Friday also found support from filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who was at the forefront of slamming the plagiarism claims against the film’s makers. He had contacted Secret Ballot producer Marco Mueller to take his feedback on the similarities.
“There is not even a hint of plagiarisation,” Mueller had told him.
The shortlisted films for the Foreign Language Film category for Oscars this time include: A Fantastic Woman (Chile), In the Fade (Germany), On Body and Soul (Hungary), Foxtrot (Israel), The Insult (Lebanon), Loveless (Russia), Felicite (Senegal), The Wound (South Africa) and The Square (Sweden).
Final nominations for all categories of the 90th Academy Awards will be announced on January 23. The Oscars ceremony will be held on March 4 at the Dolby Theatre here.
So far, Mother India, Salaam Bombay! and Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India are the only Indian films that made it to the top five in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards, but none have won the honour.