Indians in Hollywood

Oscar academy membership is ‘great honour’ and ‘huge boost to the talents of Indian cinema’

By adding 15 Indians to its membership, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has kept to its promise of ‘new faces and voices’.

Can increased diversity in the organisation that votes on the Oscar awards change the kind of films that get nominated? Sound designer Amrit Pritam Dutta seems to think so.

Dutta is among the 15 Indians who have been invited to be members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Dutta, whose credits include PK and Kaabil, told, “People from India and other Asian countries have a different perspective on cinema. We know more about our culture and that would mean a greater diversity in the kinds of films nominated.”

Apart from Dutta, the Indians on the list of 744 new members are as follows: Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan, Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai, Mrinal Sen, Goutam Ghose, Sooni Taraporevala, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Arjun Bhasin and Anand Patwardhan. Ujwal Nirgudkar, technical adviser for the National Heritage Mission, is also on the list.

Shah Rukh Khan, despite his recent TED talk and box office clout in North American territories, is missing from the list. There are no candidates from the Southern film industries, at least in this year’s round.

“I am thrilled, it’s a great honour,” said Sooni Taraporevala, the writer of Salaam Bombay! and Such A Long Journey and director of Little Zizou.

“It was a surprise,” added costume designer Arjun Bhasin, whose films include Monsoon Wedding and Life of Pi. “I am honoured and excited to be part of this community.”

If there is a pattern to the kind of Indians who have been invited, it is that they have vastly benefitted from being cast in Hollywood productions. Actors such as Irrfan, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Aishwarya Rai are already familiar to the rest of the Academy, while Aamir Khan’s Lagaan was nominated in the Foreign Language Film category in 2002.

Mrinal Sen, Goutam Ghose, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Anand Patwardhan are respected names on the international arthouse circuit, which may have facilitated their membership even if none of their films has been sent to the Oscars. However, Sen is an odd choice – at 94, he is one year younger than the oldest invitee (American actress Betty White), and has been indisposed for years, making his ability to vote at the time of the Oscars doubtful.

A clear left-field selection is Anand Patwardhan, the acclaimed director of such documentaries as Ram Ke Naam and Jai Bhim Comrade. Patwardhan said that he was most surprised, especially since he hadn’t sent any of his films for awards consideration. Yet, the decision signalled that “from time to time, the Oscars have been meaningful, for instance, when Michael Moore made his statement against the Iraq War”, Patwardhan told “The Oscars have been a forum where progressive ideas have to a limited extent been aired – that possibility exists.”

The new members have been chosen from among 57 countries. The decision to include talent from around the world is part of a wider push by the Academy to live up to its promise of increasing its diversity by 2020. Women comprise 39% of the new members, while people of colour make up 30%.

The number of Indians voting for the Oscars might have gone up significantly, but don’t expect to see all of them on the red carpet. The announcement means that more Indians will be voting, but not all of them will be invited to the annual ceremony in Los Angeles, said Academy member and Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty.

Pookutty is a part of the Diversity Committee, which is in charge of increasing representation across groups within the academy, and he too had put forth a list of recommendations. “I feel particularly happy to see so many of our recommendation and artists who we shortlisted has been accepted by the Board of Governers of the Academy, I feel this is a huge boost to the talents of Indian cinema,” said Pookutty, who won an Oscar for Sound Mixing for Slumdog Millionaire in 2008.

“It’s up to all of us to ensure that new faces and voices are seen and heard and to take a shot on the next generation the way someone took a shot on each of us,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the academy’s first African-American woman president, said in a statement. Isaacs, the departing president, had pledged to open up the academy’s membership, which was 92% white and 75% male in 2016.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Now that you’ve reached the top, how often do you say, “Thank You”?

What kind of a leader are you?

How do you define success? The typical picture of success is a large bank balance, expensive material possessions and fame. But for some, success is happiness that comes from fulfilling a childhood dream or attaining a sense of purpose. For those, success is not about the volume of an applause or the weight of a gold medal, but about showing gratitude and sharing success with the people without whom the journey would be incomplete. Here are a few ways you can share your success with others:


While it sounds simple and formulaic, a genuine, emphatic and honest speech can make everyone feel like they are a part of a winning team. For a personal touch, acknowledge the team’s efforts by mentioning each one of them by name and thanking them for their unique contributions. Hearing their own name makes people feel proud and honoured.

Realise the success should be passed on

Instead of basking in the glory of their own achievements, good leaders encourage, motivate and inspire others to achieve success. A good leader should acknowledge his own mistakes, share his experience and knowledge and cultivate an environment where every milestone is an accomplishment for everyone in the team. Talk about challenges, the personal and professional struggles that you had to overcome. Sharing setbacks helps others to relate to you and helps them overcome struggles they may be facing.


Nothing beats shaking-off the deadlines, work-pressure and fatigue by celebrating success together. Enjoying a job well done together as a team brings about a spirit of camaraderie. A catered lunch, evening drinks or a weekend off-site, the important thing is to enjoy the win with people who have gone through the same struggle.

Keep it flexible

The last thing you want is for work celebrations to become monotonous and repetitive. Not all milestones have to be celebrated in a grand manner, some can just be acknowledged with gestures such as personal Thank You notes or writing a recommendation on LinkedIn.

Make success more meaningful

Go beyond numbers, sales targets and profits and add meaning to the achievement. Reminding everyone of the larger purpose inspires people. It’s easy to lose interest when you do something in a routine fashion. Giving a larger meaning to success makes people feel more involved and energized.

Great leaders are those who share their victories with others. They acknowledge that the path to success is collaborative. Great leaders don’t stand in front of their team, but are found working amongst them. This video is an ode to such leaders who epitomise the Chivas culture and know how to Win The Right Way. Follow Chivas on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Chivas Studio Music CDs and not by the Scroll editorial team.