Expect a lot more Indian faces at the Oscars in 2018. Indian cinema’s top-drawer actors, directors and writers are among the global celebrities who have been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises the annual Oscar awards. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Indians on the list of 744 new members is heavy on Bollywood, with Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan, Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Aishwarya Rai making the list of actors. Mrinal Sen and Goutam Ghose have been invited among the directors, while Sooni Taraporevala and Buddhadeb Dasgupta have been added to the list of writers.
Costume designer Arjun Bhasin has made the cut too. Among documentary filmmakers, Anand Patwardhan has been invited to be a member. Amrit Pritam Dutta, the sound designer of PK and Kaabil, has also been invited, as has been Ujwal Nirgudkar, technical adviser for the National Heritage Mission.
“That number is more than the record 683 invitations that were issued in 2016 and well above the 322 invites that went out in 2015 as the Academy has made a concerted effort to diversify its membership ranks by bringing in more women, people of color and filmmakers from around the world,” the report said.
Membership to the academy, which hands out the Oscars every year, is by invitation only. Oscar nominees are eligible, as are candidates proposed by two current Academy members from the same field as the candidate.
The Academy has been addressing allegations of a lack of diversity in race and gender in its membership over the past few years. The latest decision also reflects the recognition that talent from all over the world contributes to Hollywood and the Oscars every year. With the new membership list, television audiences around the world have greater reason to tune into the Oscars, even as viewership slides back home.
“Seven of the Academy branches — actors, casting directors, costume designers, documentary, executives and film editors — invited more women than men,” the report said. The criterion is that the candidates must have “demonstrated exceptional achievement in the field of theatrical motion pictures”.
Indians who have been invited to be members in the past include AR Rahman, Sharmila Tagore, Resul Pookutty and Freida Pinto.
The latest list includes several established and new Hollywood stars, including Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Adam Driver, Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson. The oldest invitee is 95-year-old Betty White, while the youngest is 19-year-old Elle Fanning, the report added.