15th March, Mumbai: Only Thirteen Indians have ever been considered as nominations to the Oscars in its nearly 100 years. Here are the nominees and the winners. With three nominations this year, the 95th Academy Awards might be a successful one for the Indian filmmaking community. The catchy Naatu Naatu from SS Rajamouli’s epic action drama film RRR (2022), which just won a Golden Globe, may win the Best Original Song Oscar tomorrow. Moreover, Elephant Whisperers (2022) by Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga and All That Breathes (2022) by Shaunak Sen and Aman Mann are both up for Best Documentary Feature awards. Eight of the 13 Indians who have received Oscar nominations to far have gone on to win the prestigious prize. Here is a list of every Indian film, documentary, and short that has been nominated for an Oscar Award. Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), though not an official entry, was the first Indian film to be given an honorary mention in the 30th Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film category. Both domestically and internationally, it was a critical and financial triumph. It was also a nominee for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. With Nargis giving an outstanding performance as the heroine, the movie offers a potent depiction of the tenacity and force of Indian women.
The Creation of Woman (1961), a 13-minute short film produced by Ismail Merchant and directed by Charles F. Schwep, was nominated for the Best Short Subject (Live Action) Oscar at the 33rd Academy Awards. It, unfortunately, fell short. The narrative of the movie, which is delivered by Saeed Jaffrey, depicts the creation of man and woman from the viewpoint of Brahma, the Hindu creator god. Two talented dancers play the principal parts, and Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury plays the role of God.
The Home That Ananda Built, a 1968 documentary series by Fali Bilimoria, was nominated for the 41st Academy Awards’ Best Documentary (Short Subject) category but was unsuccessful.
The documentary follows Nagpur-based businessman Ananda as it examines his family, beliefs, and life from before independence till 20 years later.
Bead Game, a 1977 animated short by Ishu Patel, was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 50th Academy Awards, however it did not take home the prize. A haunting soundtrack of Indian classical music is used to accompany the film’s exquisite hand-drawn animations. The photos show both the greater cycles of essence and the universe, as well as the life cycle of a single organism from conception to death and rebirth.
1979: The 18-minute documentary An Encounter with Faces (1978), produced by KK Kapil, received a nomination for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 51st Academy Awards for its remarkable graphics and photography. It was directed by Vidhu Vinodh Chopra. Following the lives of kids living in an orphanage is the documentary. The 1980 Tampere Film Festival’s Grad Prix went to the documentary, despite the fact that it did not receive an Oscar.
Bhanu Athaiya, who co-won the award with John Mollo for their work on Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982), became the first Indian to do so at the 55th Academy Awards in 1983. Her words that it was a “huge occasion for India and an even bigger one for Indian women” were in dedication to her native nation. The music for the movie was composed by late sitar master Pandit Ravi Shankar and English composer George Fenton, and they were both nominated for Best Original Score. But they lost out on the Oscar Award.
1988: James Ivory’s 1958 romantic comedy A Room with a View, produced by Ismail Merchant, received a second Oscar nomination. The movie garnered eight nominations for the 59th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and took home three prizes for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. The movie examines social norms and individual needs, notably in the context of love and relationships. It is based on the same-named E.M. Forster novel.
1989: Mira Nair’s famous film Salaam Bombay! (1988) was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 61st Academy Awards. Salaam Bombay went on to win multiple other honours despite not taking home the Oscar, such as the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie provides a glimpse at the struggles daily street kids in Mumbai’s slums must overcome.
Legendary Bengali director Satyajit Ray was presented with an honorary Academy Award during the 64th Academy Awards, making him the first and only Indian to do so to date. The honour was given “in honour of his exceptional command of the craft of motion pictures and of his profound humanitarian vision, which has had a lasting impact on filmmakers and spectators all over the world.” The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959), The Music Room (1958), The Big City (1963), Charulata (1964), and the Goopy–Bagha trilogy are only a few of Ray’s well-known works.
Howards End (1992), a historical romance film, received Merchant’s third Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The movie, which was not given the prize, went on to receive favourable reviews and was a financial success, making nearly $32 million on a $8 million budget. It was the third Forster novel that Merchant Ivory Productions has adapted.
The Remains of the Day (1993), another Merchant Ivory movie, received a Best Picture nomination for the 66th Academy Awards. The British Film Institute placed The Remains of the Day as the 64th greatest British film of the 20th century, despite it yet again failing to win an Oscar.
Tiny Terrorist (2004) by Ashvin Kumar was up for Best Short Subject (Live Action) at the 77th Academy Awards. The movie tells the tale of a young Pakistani child who unintentionally enters India and is misidentified as a terrorist. Little Terrorist received a number of prizes at international film festivals, including the Best Short Film Award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Best Short Film Award at the Montréal World Film Festival, while losing the Oscar.
The 2001 Hindi epic sports drama Lagaan, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards. Although though the movie didn’t take home an Oscar, it did receive a number of accolades in Indian award shows, including 10 IIFA Awards, 8 Filmfare Awards, 8 Screen Awards, and 8 National Film Awards. The movie, which also features debutante Gracy Singh, British actors Rachel Shelley and Paul Blackthorne, and Aamir Khan, was a box office hit, making over $28 million globally.
2009: AR Rahman shared the Best Original Song Oscar with famed lyricist Gulzar for Jai Ho at the 81st Academy Awards. He also won Best Original Score for Danny Boyel’s 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire. The Oscar Award for Best Sound Mixing for Slumdog Millionaire was won by English colleagues Richard Pryke and Ian Tapp and Indian sound designer Resul Pookutty.
For Doyle’s historical survival drama film 127 Hours, Rahman received two additional nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for If I Rise, but he didn’t win in either category.
Pi’s Lullaby, a song for Ang Lee’s Life of Pie (2012) that was written by Canadian Mychael Danna with lyrics by Indian Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri Ramnath, was nominated for Best Original Song at the 85th Academy Awards, however it did not take home the prize.
Filmmakers Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas were nominated for their 2021 documentary film Writing with Fire for Best Documentary Feature.V Writing with Fire chronicles the struggle of writers at the Dalit women-run weekly Khabar Lahariya as they transition from 14 years of print to smartphone-based digital journalism.
Both All That Breathes (2022) by Shaunak Sen and Aman Mann and Elephant Whisperers (2022) by Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga have received nominations for Best Documentary Feature this year (Short Subject). For their work on Naatu Naatu from SS Rajamouli’s epic action movie RRR, Indian composer MM Keeravani and Telugu lyricist Chandrabose are also up for Best Original Song nominations.