It seems like India is ready to dazzle on the Oscars stage once again, and this time, Jude Anthany Joseph's critically acclaimed Malayalam drama 2018: Everyone Is A Hero has clinched the coveted spot as India's official entry for the 2024 Oscars in the Best International Film category.
2018 has been chosen as India's official submission by a jury led by renowned director Girish Kasaravalli.
The process of selecting India's Oscar entry is no less dramatic than the films themselves. The Film Federation of India (FFI) assembles a selection committee every year, tasked with finding the film that best represents the nation's cinematic prowess across its multitude of languages.
This year, 22 films were shortlisted by the FFI including,
Despite India's rich cinematic history, it has never clinched the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. However, a few Indian productions have made it to the final nominations, including Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay! (1988), and Lagaan (2001).
Recent years have seen selections like The Last Picture Show (2022), Koozhangal (2021), Jallikattu (2020), Gully Boy (2019), and Village Rockstars (2018).
However, the selection process for India's Oscar entry has often been mired in controversy. Criticisms have ranged from favouring films tailored for American audiences, to tilting towards arthouse cinema.
In 2013, The Lunchbox was overlooked in favour of The Good Road, and last year, The Last Picture Show was chosen instead of SS Rajamouli’s RRR.
Despite RRR not being the official selection, it clinched India's first-ever Oscar in the Best Original Song category for MM Keeravani's Naatu Naatu.
This year, the Ravi Kottarakara-led FFI have thrown their weight behind 2018, hoping it'll make a big splash at the Oscars.
While representing India at the Oscars is undeniably prestigious, it comes with considerable pressure for producers. Many international festival darlings enjoy greater familiarity with Oscar voters than Indian titles, intensifying the competition.
Moreover, Indian filmmakers must contend with well-funded productions backed by major studios.
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Nonetheless, India made a notable impact at the 2023 Oscars, securing three nominations in diverse categories and walking away with two awards.
The 96th Oscars are slated to be broadcast live on ABC on Sunday, March 10, 2024, from Los Angeles's Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood.
The submission deadline for the 2024 Academy Awards might be looming, but for now, let's hope 2018 will rectify the wrongs of RRR’s snub.