From Mehboob Khan’s ‘Mother India’ in 1958 to Mira Nair’s ‘Water’ in 2006, only 5 Indian films have made it to the Academy Awards best-known as Oscars. Every year one movie is shortlisted by Film Federation of India, as India’s official entry to the Oscar awards but till now none of the movies has gone onto stake their claims on the prestigious “golden lady”. There have been individual Indian Oscar winners, who over the years have tasted success at the Annual Academy Awards, for their tremendous work, as well as an Honorary Lifetime Achievement award.
As the world is celebrating the success of their favourite stars and films at the 90th Academy Awards, let us look back at Indian Oscar winners who have made the country proud by winning the coveted Oscar Award.
Bhanu Athaiya: Best Costume Design for Gandhi
A revered figure in Bollywood as a costume designer; Bhanu Athaiya’s work has been lauded by the Indian cinema-goers for her costume designs in Bollywood blockbusters like CID, Pyaasa, Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Guide and many others. Bhanu’s work rose to prominence when she won an Academy Award for the costume design in British director Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi in 1982. The movie went onto sweep 8 Oscars itself. Bhanu Athaiya gave an authentic look to all the characters in the movie, including Ben Kingsley who portrayed Mahatma Gandhi in the biopic. She was the only Indian working as rest of the crew came from England on the sets of Gandhi.
Satyajit Ray: Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award for Pather Panchali
Words fall short to describe the works of Satyajit Ray, the man with a vision unmatched in the whole industry. The humanistic filmmaker enthralled the audience with his best creations such as Pather Panchali, Charulata, and Apur Sansar,establishing his reputation amongst the critics. The illustrious filmmaker, writer, publisher, and film critic went onto receive the honorary Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy Award jury in 1992. Ray’s critically acclaimed work Pather Panchali, his first Bengali film, revolutionized the world cinema, as the movie came way before India’s first official submission for the category of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ in 1958. Satyajit Ray couldn’t attend the Annual Academy Awards event in Los Angeles, due to his ill health, and as the filmmaker made his acceptance speech from the hospital bed.
Resul Pookutty: Best Sound Mixing for Slumdog Millionaire
Resul Pookutty became only the third Indian to bring the coveted “golden lady” back home when he became the winner of Oscar award in the category of Best Sound Mixing for his magnificent sound mixing in Slumdog Millionaire. He dedicated this piece of history to billions of Indians back home, as Pookutty went onto describe how he almost walked out of the movie during the production phase, as it was challenging for him to work under Danny Boyle.
AR Rahman and Gulzar Sahab for Slumdog Millionaire
National Award winning music maestro AR Rahman has enthralled the Indian audience with his musical composition for National Award winning films. The music composer went onto pick the Oscar Award for Best Original Score for his musical composition in Slumdog Millionaire. While in the same night, Rahman picked up another Oscar award with lyricist Gulzar for Best Original Song category. AR Rahman’s song ‘Jai Ho’ written by Gulzar went onto create history, as Rahman became the first Indian to win two Oscar Awards.
While India still awaits the award in ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, the country’s individual brilliance hasn’t gone unnoticed. It is only a matter of time before India finally breaks its Oscar jinx in the category and brings home the “golden lady”. Surely, the current generation of filmmakers will deliver a masterpiece worthy of Oscar recognition.