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India lose sheen at Oscars 2015, but had its triumph moments
Saturday February 21, 2015 7:30 PM, Sugandha Rawal, IANS

India's no show at the 87th Academy Awards may have left cinema-lovers sulking, but a cursory glance at the time-line of filmdom's most prestigious award highlights spread of Indian flavours at the ceremony. From Bhanu Athaiya, Resul Pookutty to A.R. Rahman, several stalwarts have clinched the coveted golden statuettes in the past.

AR Rahman

Oscars 2015 have come with a disappointment for Indian fans as none of India's probable contenders could make it to the final shortlist.

Four of Rahman's compositions - three from "Million Dollar Arm" and one from "The Hundred-Foot Journey", stood a chance to be nominated for an Oscar in the Original Song category. Sonu Nigam and Bickram Ghosh were also part of the Original Score category's longlist, for their compositions in "Jal", which also missed a possible nomination in the Best Picture category.

India had already lost hope of a nomination in the Foreign Language Film category as its official entry "Liar's Dice" had failed to make a cut even to the longlist of nine out of the 83 films that had qualified for the category.

In spite of India's no show at the final nomination list this year, PVR Cinemas treated Hollywood aficionados by hosting a week long PVR Oscar Film Festival Feb 6 in 23 Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

India's tryst with Oscars began in 1958 with Mehboob Khan's "Mother India" in which late actress Nargis depicted the pain and agony of a mother with conviction. It was the first Indian movie to get nominated in the Best Foreign Language category.

After a long dry spell, costume designer Bhanu Athaiya walked away with an Oscar in the Best Costume Design category at the 55th Annual Academy Awards for Richard Attenborough's film "Gandhi" in 1983.

Late legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, who gave iconic films like "Pather Panchali" and "Aparajito", was also ennobled with honorary Oscar for his contribution to cinema in 1992.

Late iconic actress Audrey Hepburn presented the award to him and said: "the award recognises Mr Ray's rare mastery of the art of motion pictures and of his profound humanism which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world."

In an video message from Kolkata, a visibly frail Ray thanked and appreciated the American cinema.

British filmmaker Danny Boyle's film "Slumdog Millionaire", tracing the rags to riches story of a slum boy, sweeped eight Oscars at the 81st Academy Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song, Direction and Motion Picture. Indian music maestro Rahman brought home two awards for "Jai ho" composition in the same year.

Veteran writer-lyricist-filmmaker Gulzar and sound engineer Resul Pookutty were also one of the winners for the movie and made India proud in 2009.

Another movie "Smile Pinki" with an Indian theme grabbed the award under Best Documentary Short Subject category that year. American filmmaker Megan Mylan's short documentary narrates a tale of a poor village girl called Pinki whose cleft lip made her a social outcast, till her life changed after a meeting with a social worker,

In 2013, Ang Lee`s "Life of Pi", a fantasy adventure drama widely shot in India, bagged the 85th Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Direction and Best Original Score.

The film narrated journey of an Indian boy who survives a storm with stars like Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Suraj Sharma coming together to bring story of the family alive on the silver screen.

While receiving the award, Lee thanked his Indian crew and wowed everyone by saying 'Namaste'.

Another India link at the 85th Academy Award was "Lincoln", a historical drama about the last few months of 16th US President Abraham Lincoln, which was co-produced by Indian business tycoon Anil Ambani's Reliance Entertainment and DreamWorks.

Other Indian films like "Water" and "Lagaan" were also nominated for Oscars, but failed to take trophy home.

Bollywood's glitz and glamour was also not left behind the red carpet of the prestigious award ceremony with stars like Aishwarya Rai, Anil Kapoor, Aamir Khan, and John Abraham oozing out style and sophistication at the red carpet.

Well, Bollywood's "masala" entertainers like "Happy New Year" and "R… Rajkumar" have also found a place in the Oscar's library.

Back to Oscar 2015, the ceremony will be live at 7 p.m., ET (Eastern Time)/4 p.m., PT(Pacific Time) in the US on ABC while Indian audience can see the Oscars live on Star Movies at 5.30 a.m, with a repeat at 8.30 p.m. on Feb 23.

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