Top 10 Oscar-Nominated Movies of Bollywood

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Oscars are every film-maker’s dream…For a film to be considered worthy of its nomination, by itself is indeed a proud moment.  Each year, hundreds of movies get released and the committee appointed by the Film Federation of India chooses one best movie released that year to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Category.  It is indeed a proud moment for the film-maker, actors and all those associated with it.  The list of top 10 movies of Bollywood sent for Oscar nominations are.

10. Peepli Live

Peepli Live is a comical satire on the way media handles issues, in this case a ‘farmer’s suicide’. With an ensemble cast comprising of Raghubir Yadav, Omkar Das Manikpuri and other theatre actors, the movie is quite realistic in terms of setting as well as acting.  The movie was India’s official entry to the Oscars and though it didn’t win a nomination, it became a huge hit and also received very positive critical acclaim.  Peepli is the fictitious village where the film is based…which in fact, could be any village in India.  The media’s insistent and intrusive coverage and the insensitive way in which sometimes events get sensationalized are all depicted with a touch of humor. Written and directed by Anusha Rizvi, a journalist herself, Peepli Live, is a must-watch Oscar nominated movie, and without a doubt, among the top 10.

Peepli Live

9. Rang De Basanti

Rang De Basanti was a blockbuster hit and is a classic for all times. This Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra movie was the official entry for the nominations at Academy Awards in 2006.  Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Sidharth, Soha Ali Khan and others made up the ensemble cast.  The film was quite different in terms of its execution and narration, which by itself, set it apart from the other movies.  Combining new age practicality with the patriotism of yester-years, Rang De Basanti is able to strike that right chord of patriotism in the youth.  Released on 26th January, to coincide with India’s Republic Day, it is one of the best movies about India’s Freedom Struggle, told in a way that appeals to the youth. If only films like this were made more often…!  One of the top 10 Oscar nominated movies, this one is a definite must-watch.

Rang De Basanti

8. Barfi

A huge blockbuster hit, Barfi! was India’s official entry for the 85th Academy Awards.  Written and directed by Anurag Basu, the movie is indeed a feel-good movie, but with a difference.  Barfi! has mainstream actors like Ranbir Kapoor playing the role of a deaf and mute and Priyanka Chopra playing an autistic girl.  With Ileana D’Cruz playing the other central character, Barfi! is about the bonds of friendship and love between these three people. Ranbir Kapoor borrows heavily from Charlie Chaplin and his grandfather Raj Kapoor to portray the happy-go-lucky young man.  Without the usual seriousness that film-makers adapt while depicting people who are differently-abled…Anurag Basu’s Barfi! is a refreshing and sweet film, like the title itself!

Barfi

7. Bandit Queen

This Shekhar Kapur movie was sent to the Academy Awards as India’s official submission.  This hard-hitting movie was based on the life of Phoolan Devi, popularly known as the Bandit Queen.  Seema Biswas played the role of Phoolan Devi and her realistic portrayal won her huge critical acclaim.  The movie depicted the hardships of this woman and how circumstances force her to become a bandit and a modern day female Robin Hood.  A bold film in terms of content and language, Shekhar Kapur did not bend down to the dictates of the Box Office. The rugged terrain of Chambal, the no make-up look of the artists, the crass language the actors spoke…all make this movie one of the most hard-hitting movies…A movie that will definitely make you sit up and think, Bandit Queen is one of the top 10 Oscar nominated movies.

Bandit Queen

6. Saaransh

A very moving and poignant film, it is one of Mahesh Bhatt’s finest movies ever. India’s submission to the Academy Awards in 1985, Saaransh did not make it to the final nominations list, but it continues to be a classic in its own right. Anupam Kher in his first lead role, established his credentials as one of the greatest actors with this movie…he was all of 29 years, as he enacted the role of the retired headmaster, B.V.Pradhan!  An outstanding performance, Anupam Kher walked away with many awards and great critical acclaim.  The movie has some very heart-rending moments…especially the scene in the Customs Officer’s office…the helplessness and pathos of a father who has lost his only son is brilliantly portrayed by Anupam Kher in this scene.   A movie made with touching sensitivity, this is indeed among the top 10 Oscar-nominated movies from Bollywood!

Saaransh

5. Taare Zameen Par

The movie was submitted as Stars On Earth for the Academy Awards. This Aamir Khan’s production is indeed a beautiful, heart-touching story of a dyslexic child, Ishaan Awasthi…an extraordinary performance by Darsheel Safary. The story was conceived by Amole Gupte and he developed it along with his wife, Deepa Bhatia after much research and study.  Initially, he was to direct the movie too, and had started out to do it, but creative differences with Aamir Khan led him to step down as the director, handing over the reins to Aamir himself.   A very sensitively tackled subject, Aamir Khan won a lot of critical acclaim for his directorial debut.  The movie is one of the first films to use the technique of Claymation which was till then used only in advertisements. Both in terms of technique and narration, Taare Zameen Par is one of the best movies ever and a must-watch for kids and adults alike!

Taare Zameen Par

4. Guide

A classic…a movie well ahead of its times…Guide was India’s official submission to the Oscars. Adapted from the novel by the same name, written by R.K.Narayan, Guide had some sterling performances by the evergreen hero Dev Anand, and the danseuse par excellence, Waheeda Rehman.  Dev Anand is Raju guide and Waheeda Rehman is Rosie, the unhappy wife of Marco, Kishore Sahu. Initially, Vijay Anand, the director was very apprehensive about the film’s story-line, fearing it would not find acceptance with Indian audiences and their sensibilities…but the optimistic Dev Anand convinced him otherwise, predicting that the film would create history…and it did indeed! The movie has some beautiful music by S.D.Burman and the lyrics by Shailendra only make the songs as hummable today as in the yesteryears.   The timeless appeal of Guide can be seen from the way it was received even after 42 years, when it was screened at Cannes Film Festival in 2007…such is the magic of this movie.

Guide

3. Salaam Bombay

This hard-hitting movie about the street children of Bombay…about their plight, their dreams, their hopes and aspirations…is indeed one of the best Bollywood movies ever. This brilliant movie by Mira Nair was the second-ever movie to get a nomination at the Oscars.  The realistic depiction of the Bombay street-life is indeed heart-warming.  Mira Nair in fact had picked up street children to play many of the parts in her movie.  She organized an acting workshop for them to help understand the nuances of film-acting.  In fact, in 1989 after completing the film, she started an NGO called Salaam Balak Trust to help the street children in various cities.   Mira Nair explored and brought out hitherto untouched topics in Bollywood onto silver screen…a definite must-see movie.

Salaam Bombay

2. Lagaan

Only the third movie which got accepted for the Best Foreign Language Film Category, Lagaan had a very successful innings in India and abroad!  Ashutosh Gowariker’s vision and Aamir Khan’s production and involvement have made the film a classic today. One of the first movies to use sync-sound recording in 30 years, the efforts taken by the Producer-Director duo were remarkable.  Shot on location in an arid village just outside Bhuj, in Gujarat, Lagaan realistically captures rural India in its element.    With an ensemble cast, Lagaan was a period film, set in the fictional village of Champaner, which was reeling under a drought during the atrocious British Rule.  The film’s music by A.R.Rehman was indeed much appreciated and it was the highest-selling musical album that year.  A must watch to see why Lagaan is indeed a cut above the rest!

Lagaan

1. Mother India

The year was 1957 and the movie Mother India was India’s first submission to the Oscars for the Best Foreign Language Film Category. A landmark film to this day, Mother India is definitely the best Oscar-nominated movies ever.  Mehboob Khan’s magnum opus brilliantly depicts the Indian woman in all her glory, delineating all her facets…her love and compassion…her grit and determination…her strength and moral integrity…a woman with a will of steel…all in all, it portrayed the strength of the Indian woman like never before. Nargis as Radha and Mother India delivered a brilliant performance.  For India, a nascent nation which was still finding its identity in the world, Mother India showcased the strength and power of the Indian woman and Indian mother…a woman who could make or mar the lives around her. The epic poster of the movie, showing Nargis carrying the plough on her shoulder resonates with the symbolism of Indian womanhood…of someone who can singlehandedly carry the responsibilities of her family. To date, it continues to be one classic movie that remains etched in the cinematic conscience of audiences all over.

Mother India

Conclusion

There are awards and awards and then, there is the Oscars…Well, any film-maker worth his or her salt always aspires for it…dreams of it…and hopes for it!  If only wishes were horses…as the dreams to get that coveted Oscars go on…the top 10 Oscar nominated movie should suffice for now!

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