For an industry that produces thousands of films every year across languages, it is difficult to imagine that our movies have only been nominated for the Oscars on three occasions. Out of all the Indian movies sent as Oscar entries, Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay! (1988), and Lagaan (2001) are the only three movies ever to be nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category (now known as Best International Feature Film) at the Academy Awards. But that is not a measure of the brilliance of these movies. Let’s have a look at some of the best Indian movies sent as Oscar entries over the years.
Watch this movie if you want to understand love in its rawest, most innocent form. A deaf and mute man falls in love with a girl with autism. The movie is a poem that makes your heart ache each time you read it, but you still go back to it for it is the only form of hope available to you in the big bad world.
Rajkumar Rao plays the role of a government servant who is sent to a politically sensitive Naxalite area for election duty. Despite numerous obstacles, he strives to conduct a fair voting process. The movie is humourous, satirical, and gravely important for recent times. The movie was sent for consideration for nomination at the 90th Academy Awards.
A masterpiece by the director Lijo Jose Pellissery, Jallikattu is such a story that is bound to leave you in awe. This critically acclaimed movie follows the story of a butcher chasing after a mad bull that he was supposed to slaughter.
4. 1947: Earth
Based on the novel ‘Icecandy Man’ by Bapsi Sidhwa, this hauntingly brilliant movie featured Aamir Khan in the titular role. All the actors in the movie did a great job at adding life to the characters of the novel. Characters from a partition novel had never been brought to life with such dexterity.
5. Mother India
In post-independent India, a widowed mother raises her two children amidst all the societal troubles that hedge her way. Struck with poverty and tormented by a ruthless moneylender, she fights through it all with the sheer strength of mind. It was the first out of the only three movies to be nominated after being sent as Oscar entries.
6. Salaam Bombay!
The movie depicts the life of children in Mumbai slums, the trials, and tribulations in a way that moves your heart. It is one of the most powerful movies of the 80s and was one of the only three Indian movies ever nominated for the Oscars. This movie is a classic.
Patriotism and cricket, this combination can never go wrong with Indians! This period drama features Aamir Khan as Bhuvan, a man who challenges the unfair tax system during the British Raj in India with a cricket match between Indians and the Britishers.
8. Rang De Basanti
A group of young friends, the future of the nation, find themselves filled with a newfound sense of patriotism when they participate in the making of a film based on the Indian freedom struggle. This fervour gives them the power to rebel against the oppressive powers of the present world. This movie is a masterpiece.
9. Harishchandrachi Factory
This Marathi biographical film is about the life of Dadasaheb Phalke, the Father of Indian Cinema. It follows the story of how he strived to produce the first-ever feature film in India Raja Harishchandra. It is a heartwarming tribute to the man who made his dreams his life.
10. Adaminte Makan Abu
In a world of pompous films, this movie comes as a breath of fresh air. It is the story of a perfume seller and his wife who save money for pilgrimage. The story is honest and heart-touching. It is a National Award-winning movie and was India’s entry for Oscars in the year 2011.
Rudaalis are women who publicly express their grief at funerals and are paid to do so. The tradition has its roots in Rajasthan. The movie follows the life of Shanichari, a woman tormented by fate, who is unable to cry despite her tragic life. Her life changes when she meets Bhikni, a Rudaali.
This was the first Indian movie to be produced collectively by thousands of dairy farmers who financed this wonderful movie based around the White Revolution in India. The movie was lauded for its themes of rural empowerment, and above all the excellent performances.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s adaptation of the classic story of Devdas is another wonderful movie that was sent as an entry to the Oscars. The sheer intensity with which Sharukh delivers the role of Dev is heartbreakingly divine. Okay, let’s not talk about any other scene but the one where he carries Paro’s palanquin on his shoulder after the former gets married, with the song ‘Humesha Tumko Chahan‘ playing in the background. Goosebumps!
14. Taare Zameen Par
It’s a beautiful yet heartbreaking story of a teacher who realizes that his student has dyslexia and offers him a helping hand when everyone else refuses to understand him. This poignant film is one of the best movies ever made in India.
In this extremely interesting story, a ghost living in an ancient tree falls in love with a newly-wed woman named Lachchi. He guises himself as Lachchi’s husband and stays close to her while her real husband is away on business. Amol Palekar never fails to amaze.
Honourable mentions: Shwaas, Saaransh, Apur Sansaar, Hey Ram
So, these were some of the best Indian movies sent as Oscar entries. Which of these movies is your absolute favourite? Do let us know in the comments section.