Malayalam director Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu has been selected as India’s official submission for the Best International Feature Film language category at the 93rd Academy Awards. A 14-member committee of the Film Federation of India, the trade body that picks the Indian nominee ever year, made the announcement on Wednesday.
Jallikattu revolves around a tamed buffalo that liberates itself from its owner on the eve of its scheduled slaughter and runs amok through a town in Kerala’s Idduki district. The film is based on the short story Maoist by S Hareesh, who has also written the screenplay along with R Jayakumar.
“It brings out the raw problems that are there in human beings,” committee chairperson Rahul Rawail said at the press conference. Rawail also praised the film’s production values, adding, “The emotions that came up really moved all of us. We felt that this is a unique ensemble of characters and locations.”
The 93rd Academy Awards are scheduled to be held on April 25, 2021, in Los Angeles. The ceremony was pushed back by two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 26 other contenders were: The Sky is Pink, Gunjan Saxena, Shakuntala Devi, Gulabo Sitabo, Chippa, Chhalaang, The Disciple, Shikara, Bittersweet, Is Love Enough, Sir, Moothon, Kalira Atita, Bulbbul, Kaamyaab, Chintu Ka Birthday, The Check Post, Eeb Allay Ooo, Bahattar Hoorian, Malang, Bhavai, AK Vs AK, Chhapaak, Bhonsle, Serious Men, I Pad and Atkan Chatkan.
Apart from Rawail, the jury members were Abhishek Shah, Atanu Ghosh, C Umamaheswara Rao, Jayesh More, Kalaippuli S Thanu, Niraj Shah, Nirav Shah, P Sheshadri, Prabuddha Banerjee, Sabarni Das, Satarupa Sanyal, Shrinivas Bhanage and Vijay Khochikar. The decision was a majority one, Rawail said at the press conference.
In 2019, the Film Federation of India committee picked Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy for the 2020 Oscars. In previous years, India has sent Rima Das’s Village Rockstars, Amit Masurkar’s Newton, Vetri Maaran’s Visaaranai and Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court to the Oscars. India has never won an award in this category.
Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya was the first Indian to get an Academy Award for Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982). Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008) scooped up eight Oscars, including for Best Original Score by AR Rahman and Best Song by Rahman (Jai Ho). Resul Pookutty shared the Oscar for Sound Mixing with two others for Boyle’s movie.
In 1992, Satyajit Ray became the first Indian to be given an honorary Lifetime Achievement Oscar. Rayka Zehtabchi’s Period, End of Sentence, co-produced by Mumbai-based filmmaker Guneet Monga, won the Academy Award in the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category in 2019.