Zoya Akhtar directorial Gully Boy, starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt in the lead roles, has been declared as India’s official entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category, earlier known as Best Foreign Language Film category.
Gully Boy is a coming-of-age drama centred around the life of aspiring rapper Murad, portrayed by Ranveer. The film was inspired by the real-life stories of Mumbai rappers Divine and Naezy. The film released on February 14 this year to widespread critical acclaim. Alongside Ranveer and Alia, Gully Boy also starred Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Raaz and Kalki Koechlin.
In her review of Gully Boy, The Indian Express film critic Shubhra Gupta noted, “this is a film to enjoy, both in the seeing, and in the hearing: the soundtrack and the ‘songs’ leap off the screen. In today’s India, to bring a Murad and Safeena, their Muslim-ness a matter-of-fact statement, into centre-stage, to give traction to those who live on the wrong side of the tracks, is an act of bravery. I’ll take them any day over an overused Raj-and-Raveena. ‘Inka time aa gaya’. Rap along.”
Ranveer Singh said in a statement, “Gully Boy echoed the voice of the streets. It will always be one of my most personal films. As always, I will keep striving towards making the flag of Hindi cinema fly high. I am very happy that the passionate hard work that our cast and crew put into creating Gully Boy is reaping rewards.”
He added, “It’s a proud moment for our entire team. I am especially proud of and happy for Zoya! Gully Boy is her (Tiger) baby, and I am blessed to have been a part of her maverick vision. With the love and support of our beloved audience, we are hoping to make a significant mark on the world stage.”
Alia Bhatt said in a statement, “Gully Boy as a film is really special to me. What’s even more special is that it has had such a long run after releasing in February. It won at the Melbourne Film Festival and then it was also shown in Japan. Now, it’s been selected as India’s official entry for the Academy. So, hereon, I just hope, pray and wish that we make it to the nomination and then win. This is a first and it’s a big deal for us. As a team, we are very excited.”
Gully Boy director Zoya Akhtar couldn’t contain her excitement. She said, “We are so thrilled that Gully Boy has been selected as India’s official entry to the 92nd Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category. Thank you to the Film Federation of India, Supran Sen, Aparna Sen and a big congratulations to our spectacular cast and crew.”
“I am so thrilled to hear this news. We are all over the moon. I want to thank the panel for choosing Gully Boy as India’s entry for Oscars 2020. The film’s theme is so universal. I hope and pray that we get a nomination and eventually win! Cheers,” Gully Boy actor Vijay Varma said in a statement.
He added, “Gully Boy changed my life in so many ways. From working and living in oblivion for so many years to now be able to say that my film is India’s official entry to Oscars is a huge deal for me personally and I can’t thank Zoya enough for this incredible gift called Moeen.”
Gully Boy producer Farhan Akhtar took to Twitter and wrote, “#GullyBoy has been selected as India’s official entry to the 92nd Oscar Awards. #apnatimeaayega Thank you to the film federation and congratulations #Zoya @kagtireema @ritesh_sid @RanveerOfficial @aliaa08 @SiddhantChturvD @kalkikanmani & cast, crew and hip hop crew.”
The other films in contention were Anandi Gopal, AndhDhun, And The Oscar Goes To, Article 15, Baba, Badhaai Ho, Badla, Bandishala, Bulbul Can Sing, Dear Comrade, Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Jaa Riya Hoon, Gully Boy, Hellaro, Kesari, Konttho, Kurukshetra, Mai Ghat: Crime No 103/2005, Nagarkirtan, Olu, Oththa Seruppu Size 7, Pahuna, Super Deluxe, The Tashkent Files, Uri: The Surgical Strike, Uyare and Vada Chennai. Gujarati film Chaal Jeevi Laiye was disqualified from the race.
A few countries have already announced their candidates for the prestigious award. While Japan has selected Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You, the 2019 Palme d’Or-winning, Parasite, will be South Korea’s official entry to the Oscars. Iran picked Finding Farideh, a documentary film by Kourosh Ataee and Azadeh Moussavi as its entry. Game Of Thrones’ Carice Van Houten stars alongside Marwan Kenzari in Instinct, which is the Netherlands’ official pick this year.
Last year, Village Rockstars was selected as India’s official entry to the 91st Academy Awards. The film, which was shot using a hand-held camera within a shoe-string budget, was selected from 29 films that were nominated including Raazi, Padmaavat, Hichki, October, Love Sonia, Mahanati, Pihu, Kadvi Hawa, Bioscopewala, Manto, 102 Not out, Padman, Bhayanakam, Ajji, Nude, Gali Guliiyan among others.
So far, only three films from India have made it till the last round and were, as a result, nominated in the foreign language film category at the Oscars – Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! (1988), and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan (2001).
The 92nd Academy Awards will take place on February 9, 2020 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, US.