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Slumdog is No Underdog for Oscar Jackpot

February 2009
Slumdog is No Underdog for Oscar Jackpot

Now that Slumdog Millionaire has received 10 Oscar nominations, the awards ceremony on February 22nd is bound to generate excitement (and attract more viewers) among desis. Apart from being a surprise super-hit, it has already bagged notable honors, including a top prize at the Toronto Film Festival and four Golden Globe Awards (best picture, director, screenplay and original score). Out of the 10 Academy Award nominations, which include best director (Danny Boyle) and best picture, three are for A. R. Rahman (a record for an Indian). Despite the wide acclaim, there were dissenters and, unsurprisingly, there was some controversy in India. “I’m not a very big fan of Slumdog Millionaire,” Salman Rushdie told a blogger for The New York Times. “I think it’s visually brilliant, but I have problems with the storyline. I find the storyline unconvincing. It just couldn’t happen. I’m not adverse to magic realism but there has to be a level of plausibility, and I felt there were three or four moments in the film where the storyline breached that rule.”

If we considered only Indian-made films, how many so far have won Academy Award nominations? For those who are counting, the number is three. India’s official Oscar entry every year is chosen by a committee appointed by the government. The latest entry is Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par. Since 1956, when Mother India was nominated, 34 films have been submitted by India for an Oscar in the foreign film category. Salaam Bombay! (1988) and Lagaan (2001) are the other two nominations. None of them won an Oscar. Although Satyajit Ray’s sole entry in the Oscars, Shatranj ke Khilari (The Chess Players), did not win an award (or nomination) in 1978, Ray did receive an Academy Honor Award shortly before his death in 1992. When it comes to non-Indian films about India, Gandhi remains the Mother of all Movies. This British-made film won eight Oscars in 1983, sparking a renewed interest in India’s most famous 20th-century leader.

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