India has decided to roll out the best of the lot to compete at the 2015 Academy Awards, popularly known as Oscars. The film, “Liar’s Dice,” directed by Geethu Mohandas, premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival in October last year, was chosen as India’s official entry to the Oscars as the Best Foreign Language Film.
Mohandas, a Malayalam filmmaker, who has written and directed the film, tells the tale of a young tribal woman, named Kamala, from a village in Himachal Pradesh. Played by Geetanjali Thapa, who won a National Award for her performance earlier this year, her character embarks on a journey to leave her native land in search for her missing husband. Kamala, her girl three-old-child Manya and their pet goat, leave for their search from a small mountain village near the Indo-Tibetan border.
During her journey, she meets a free spirited army deserter, played by Nawazuddin Siddiuqui, who accompanies them in their quest with his own selfish reason. The story deals with the complications people face when they migrate in search of work and how they are exploited in the process.
The film has been selected by a 12-member jury among movies other Bollywood blockbusters, including “Queen,” “Mardaani,” “Mary Kom,” “Shahid,” Marathi films “Yellow” and “Faundry,” and Bengali films “Jatishwar” and “Apur Panchali,” totaling 30 films competing for selection to the Oscars.
Till date, only three Indian films have made it to the top five nominations at the Academy Awards- “Mother India,” “Salaam Bombay” and “Lagaan.” Last year, the selection of “The Good Road” was chosen over the much talked about film,”The Lunch Box,” which stirred a bit of controversy. However, no Indian film has ever won an Oscar in the foreign film category.
The story is intricately woven amidst the socio-economic conditions of the laborers in Indian who migrate to different places just to earn more money and provide a better life to their families. A lot of people who relocate in search of better livelihood never return and their families do not even get to know what happens to them. Migrant laborers fall prey to exploitation, because they are quite unaware of the new place they are in and tend to believe whatever they are told.
The 104-minute feature film was screened at Sundance, Rotterdam and Edinburgh festivals this summer, where it gained a lot of appreciation. Thapa won the best actress award and cinematrogpher Rajeev Ravi won the best cinematography award for the film at the 61st National Film Awards.
Come February, India has its eyes set on “Liar’s Dice,” hoping that this film will come home with the prestigious award. The Academy Awards will take place on February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif.