The recently released Amit V Masurkar directed Newton has won many nominations and acclaim all over the world including Berlin, Tribeca, Edinburgh, Jerusalem, Istanbul and Buenos Aires. The film also won the prestigious ‘Jury Prize’ at Hong Kong and the CICAE Art Cinema Award at Berlin. While a handful of people expressed their dissent about selecting Newton over the Aamir Khan’s blockbuster Dangal, the fact remains that Newton will be facing stiff competition in the form of other internationally acclaimed films like They Killed My Father (Cambodia), A Fantastic Woman (Chile), The Square (Sweden), Foxtrot (Israel) and Loveless (Russia). While the fate of Newton remains undecided so far, let us have a look at the Indian films of the last five years which were submitted as India’s entry to the Oscars.
The Ranbir Kapoor-Priyanka Chopra-Ileana D’Cruz starrer path-breaking film Barfi! was sent as India’s entry in the category of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars. That year, the Anurag Basu directed masterpiece beat a many as 20 strong content-driven films in order to be named India’s official entry to the Oscars.
Barfi!, which was an intensely heart-warming and heart-wrenching love story between a deaf and mute boy and an autistic girl went on to make superstars out of the trio of Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, and Ileana D’Cruz.
Sadly and ironically, the ‘sweetness of Barfi! did not last for long in the race for the Oscars as it lost out in the race for the Oscars.
That year, an Iranian drama called A Separation, which was directed by Asghar Farhadi and starred Peyman Maadi and Leila Hatami won the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars. The film was about a couple considering a divorce.
2013: The Good Road
This year saw a Gujarati film titled The Good Road as being sent by India as its entry in the category of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars. Directed by Gyan Correa, The Good Road starred Ajay Gehi and Sonali Kulkarni in the lead roles. The film went on to win the ‘Best Gujarati Film Award’ at the 60th National Film Awards and the ‘Best Feature Film Jury Award’ at the Indian Film Festival, Houston.
Our respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had even tweeted that he was proud that a Gujarati film was selected for the Oscars for the first time. The Good Road had stiff competition from others in the form of The Lunchbox, Sridevi’s English Vinglish, Malayalam film Celluloid, Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam and Farhan Akhtar’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
Sadly though, The Good Road, which was about a lost-and-found story of a small boy, just could not make an inroad in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars that year.
That year, the winner of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ was the Michael Haneke’s French-language drama Amour, which was about an elderly married couple whose lives get devastated when one has a stroke.
2014: Liar’s Dice
of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars. Liar’s Dice, which starred stalwarts actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Geetanjali Thapa, Manya Gupta and Vikram Bhagra did not do as expected at the box-office.
The flip side of this Geetu Mohandas directed film was that its box office collections notwithstanding, it won the critical acclaim from everyone alike. The film also won two National Film Awards in the form of ‘Best Actress’ for Geetanjali Thapa and ‘Best Cinematography’ for Rajeev Ravi.
Liar’s Dice was an intense film about a young mother’s search of her missing husband along with her 3-year-old daughter and her pet goat in tow.
That year, the winner of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars turned to be the Italian film The Great Beauty, which was directed by Paolo Sorrentino. It also became the first Italian film since Life Is Beautiful in 1998 to take home the prestigious award.
This year saw the Chaitanya Tamhane directed Court as India’s entry in the category of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars. Court, which starred the likes of Vira Sathidar, Vivek Gomber, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Pradeep Joshi, Usha Bane and Shirish Pawar stunned everyone when it got announced as India’s entry at the Academy Awards.
Court, which was as spectacular a film as its star cast, was released in English, Marathi, Hindi, and Gujarati. The film won as many as 18 international awards, including the ‘Lion Of The Future Award’ for the ‘Best First Feature’ at the Italian festival and also the National Award.
That year, Court had beat other Indian contenders like S.S. Rajamouli’s Bahubali, Rajkumar Hirani’s PK, Neeraj Ghyaywan’s Masaan’, Omung Kumar’s Mary Kom, M. Manikandan’s Kaaka Muttai and Vishal Bharadwaj’s Haider to be considered as India’s nomination at the Oscars.
That year, the Paweł Pawlikowski directed Ida, which was about a novice nun in the 1960s who discovers she is Jewish, became the first film from Poland to bag the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’.
2016: Visaranai (Tamil)
This year saw the Vetrimaaran directed Tamil film Visaranai become India’s entry in the category of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars. The film beat the likes of Bajirao Mastani and Fan to become India’s entry in the Oscars. Visaranai, which had won three honours at National Film Awards, revolved around police brutality and corruption. The film had been produced by actor Dhanush.
Visaranai happened to be the ninth Tamil movie to represent India at Oscars.
Its Tamil predecessors included Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram (2000). Nayakan, Anjali, Deiva Magan, Jeans and others.
That year too, India’s dream to get an Oscar continued to remain a distant option as Visaranai lost out to others in the race for the Oscars.
That year, the winner of the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars was declared as Laszlo Nemes directed Son Of Saul, which was a story of a Jewish Auschwitz concentration-camp prisoner who, desperately tries to give a boy a decent burial.