Chaitanya Tamhane’s critically acclaimed Marathi film ‘Court’ was on Wednesday selected as India’s official entry to the Best Foreign Language category of the 2016 Academy Awards.
‘Court’ was selected from a shortlist of 30 films by a Film Federation of India jury headed by film-maker Amol Palekar. Marathi film-maker Ravi Jadhav, who was part of the jury, made the announcement on Facebook with this post.
Debutant Tamhane’s film beat Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘PK’, Neeraj Ghyaywan’s Cannes winner ‘Masaan’, Omung Kumar’s ‘Mary Kom’, Vishal Bharadwaj’s ‘Haider’, M. Manikandan’s ‘Kaaka Muttai’ and SS Rajamouli’s ‘Bahubali’ in the Oscar race.
In his first reaction to the media, Tamhane, who is presently in Japan, said “At every juncture of the film’s journey, we have felt that it has given us more than we could ever imagine. Once again, this has come as a genuine surprise to both Vivek and me. Ever since we started making the film, we kept our expectations low. Especially in this case, since these results tend to be so unpredictable, it just felt like a wise thing to not expect too much. Now that it has actually happened, we would like to thank the jury for their decision and everyone who has supported the film so far.”
Tamhane’s ‘Court’, which narrates story of the trial of an ageing folk singer accused of performing an inflammatory song that may have incited a sewage worker to commit suicide in a manhole to expose the flaws of the Indian judicial system, has had a fascinating year, travelling to 19 national and international film festivals and picking up 16 awards.
The film won two coveted awards – the Horizons award for Best Film which carries a 100,000 $ cash prize and the Lion of the Future award for a Debut Film – at the Venice International Film festival in 2014 among others. It was picked up by New York-based Zeitgeist Films, known for sensing the next big film-making talent in the world, for distribution in the US.
‘Court’ is the third Marathi film after Sandeep Sawant’s Shwaas (Breath) in 2004, and Paresh Mokashi’s Harishchandrachi Factory (Harischandra’s Factory) made on the life of Dadasaheb Phalke in 2009 to be selected as India’s entry to the Academy Awards.