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Three Indian Films Nominated For An Oscar for Year at the 95th Academy Awards

By: Mythily Ramachandran | 'RRR' Film at The 95th Academy Awards | Image: RRR

Come March 12th, 2023 and the 95th Academy Awards night will be a special one for Indians.

It is no mean achievement that three Indian films- the feature film ‘RRR,’ the documentary ‘All That Breathes’ and short documentary ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ are vying for an Oscar.

Riding high on the success of a Golden Globe award and five trophies at the 2023 Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) Film Awards, ‘RRR’ leads the pack. This Telugu period drama directed by S.S. Rajamouli is set in the 1920s and centered around two young freedom fighters- Komaram Bheem, a tribal warrior, and Rama Raju, an officer serving the British. Ram Charan played Rama Raju and NTR Jr. essayed the role of Komaram Bheem.

Race to The Oscars 2023: A Celebration of India

Ram Charan and NTR Jr. from a still from 'RRR'
Ram Charan and NTR Jr. from a still from the 'RRR' film | Image: RRR

At the HCA awards ceremony, ‘RRR’ won in five categories-Best International Film, Best Action Film, Best Stunts, Best Original Song, and the honorary Spotlight Award. In his acceptance speech for ‘Best Stunts’ director Rajamouli while thanking his action director, King Solomon, said that the film was shot over 324 days and most of the days were taken for stunt performances. He added that except for two–three shots where a body double was used, the lead actors, Ram Charan and NTR performed all the stunts themselves. Dancing its way into people’s hearts is the Oscar-nominated song, ‘Naatu Naatu,’ from ‘RRR.’ Veteran M. M. Keeravaani has scored the music for lyrics written by Chandrabose. And, if you wish to catch live the two singers- Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava- with this song tune into the Oscars.

In the past few years, Indian documentaries have been making a mark internationally. Last year, the documentary ‘Writing With Fire’ directed by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh made it to the Oscar nominees list. Following suit, this year is ‘All That Breathes’ a documentary directed by Shaunak Sen, and ‘The Elephant Whisperers,’ a short documentary directed by Kartiki Gonsalves. What makes the two documentaries interesting is the common thread-both speak about man coexisting with other living beings.

All That Breathes
'All That Breathes' Directed by Shaunak Sen | Image: HBO

In ‘All That Breathes,’ director Sen follows brothers Nadeem and Saud in New Delhi who have made it their life mission to rescue and rehabilitate kites. Incidentally, it is the other kite –the sport of flying kites in the sky- that causes injury to the birds flying around.

Since 2003, they have rescued over 20,000 plus kites and other birds and rehabilitated them in their house before setting them free.

This is Sen’s second documentary after ‘Cities of Sleep,’ which brought home six international awards. ‘All That Breathes’ had its premiere at Sundance in 2022 winning the Grand Jury prize and also the Best Documentary at Cannes. With mind-blowing camera work by Benjamin Bernhard-whose frames make even rodents look beautiful-this simple tale touches the heart with its sincerity.

Thanking Nadeem and Saud for trusting the team into their homes, producer Aman Mann says, “What is incredible is that day in and day out without any backing or until now without much awareness of their work, they go about saving thousands of birds. They do it in a complete unsentimental way and are so matter-of-fact while carrying out this act of kindness. That’s why on meeting them and seeing the scale of their work, carried on from their tiny basement, we knew this was a film we had to make.

DOP Karan Thapliyal with Ammu
DOP Karan Thapliyal with Ammu in ‘The Elephant Whisperers' | Image: Netflix

In ‘The Elephant Whisperers, ‘ Gonsalves looks into the life of a tribal couple Bomman and Bellie who raise two orphaned elephants, Raghu and Ammu. Filmed at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in the Nilgiris (south India), Gonsalves captures poignant moments of a bond shared between man and animal. This is Gonsalves’ first documentary and took five years in the making. DOP Karan Thapliyal’s frames unravel the alluring moments of nature and beasts, enriching this beautiful tale.

Posting a thank you on Instagram for the Oscar nomination, Gonsalves stated- ‘I am forever grateful to Bomman, Bellie, Raghu, and Ammu for showing us the beauty of life and coexistence through their lives and values. ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ is a hopeful story of respect for and cooperation with nature in an era rife with conflict and denial of the threats to our beautiful planet. We hope this film helps create more awareness, empathy, and connection to elephants and other living beings that we share our spaces with.’

Will ‘RRR’ bring an Oscar home? Will ‘All That Breathes’ fly off with a golden statuette? Will ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ trumpet with the glory of an Oscar?

Where to Watch: The Oscar Nominated Films

The film 'All that Breathes' is on HBO and 'The Elephant Whisperers' is on Netflix. Please check your listings for the fabulous 'RRR' film being shown on Netflix.


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