Bol­ly­wood in Hol­ly­wood

The Witness - Wheels - - ARTS - With Fakir Hassen

WITH awards sea­son upon us in both Hol­ly­wood and Bol­ly­wood, reader Raash­nee Ma­haraj wanted to know if any of the Bol­ly­wood stars who have ven­tured into Hol­ly­wood have won Os­cars.

The an­swer is that while Bol­ly­wood stars have fea­tured in some films that have won Os­cars, only three of the al­most 50 In­dian films sub­mit­ted to the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­tures, Arts and Sciences since 1957 have been ac­cepted in the best for­eign lan­guage film cat­e­gory: Mother In­dia ( 1957), Salaam Bom­bay ( 1988) and La­gaan ( 2001).

No In­dian film has won an Os­car yet, but there have been a num­ber of peo­ple con­nected to the In­dian film in­dus­try who have won Academy Awards for their work.

The first of th­ese was in 1982, when Bhanu Athaiya was named best cos­tume designer for Richard At­ten­bor­ough’s mag­num opus biopic Gandhi. A decade later, the late In­dian film­maker of the black and white era, Satya­jit Ray, won an hon­ourary Os­car.

In­dia’s best year at the Academy Awards was in 2008, when three awards went to cit­i­zens of the coun­try for a sin­gle film, Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire. Ra­sool Pookutty won the best sound- mix­ing award jointly with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke. A. R. Rah­man got the best score and best orig­i­nal song award and vet­eran lyri­cist Gulzar’s Jai Ho got him the best song lyrics award.

Danny Boyle’s Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire, shot en­tirely in In­dia with an In­dian cast, won eight Os­cars in dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories.

In 2013, Life of Pi, also filmed in In­dia and star­ring Ir­rfan Khan, Tabu and Su­raj Sharma, won four Os­cars, all in tech­ni­cal cat­e­gories. And long be­fore this, Gandhi, shot largely in In­dia in 1982, won eight Os­cars.

Pro­lific film- maker Is­mail Mer- chant has had three nom­i­na­tions for best pic­ture at the Os­cars. His first tryst with the Academy Awards was in 1961 in the best short sub­ject cat­e­gory for his The Cre­ation of Woman. Mer­chant’s nom­i­nated fea­ture films were A Room with a View in 1987, Howard’s End in 1993 and The Re­mains of the Day just a year later.

Cel­e­brated In­dian- ori­gin women di­rec­tors whose films were nom­i­nated to the short­list have in­cluded Mira Nair for Salaam Bom­bay in 1994 and Deepa Mehta for Wa­ter in 2007, although the lat­ter was nom­i­nated from Canada, where she was res­i­dent.

There have of­ten been con­tro­ver­sies in In­dia about the se­lec­tion of the of­fi­cial en­try to the Academy Awards. In 1964, for ex­am­ple, the last film of cel­e­brated direc­tor Bi­mal Roy, Ban­dini, de­spite win­ning the coun­try’s Na­tional Award for Best Film, was over­looked for sub­mis­sion to the Os­cars in favour of Satya­jit Ray’s Ma­hana­gar.

Roy’s Do Bhiga Zameen, made in 1953 and con­sid­ered to be one of the great­est clas­sics of In­dia cinema, lost out on an Os­car en­try be­cause In­dia only started send­ing nom­i­na­tions five years later.


Sir Ben Kings­ley played the ti­tle role in Lord At­ten­bor­ough’s Gandhi in 1982. The film, which was shot largely in In­dia, won a to­tal of eight Os­cars.

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