“We are so thrilled,” Zoya Akhtar said in a press release about her film Gully Boy being chosen to represent India in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars. “Thank you to the Film Federation of India, Aparna Sen, Supran Sen, Anindya Dasgupta, members of the jury and a big congratulations to our spectacular cast and crew,” Akhtar’s statement further read.
The Mumbai-set movie, which has been written by Akhtar and Reema Kagti with dialogue by Vijay Maurya, stars Ranveer Singh as Murad, a rapper from Dharavi. Among the cast is Alia Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Kalki Koechlin and Vijay Varma. Akhtar based her modern fairy-tale on Mumbai rappers Naezy and Divine.
Gully Boy was the unanimous choice of a jury headed by Aparna Sen. The Ranveer Singh-Alia Bhatt starrer was among 28 entries, and was selected above the others because of its “infectious energy”, Sen said at a press conference.
Members of the cast reacted with glee to the news. In a press statement, Alia Bhatt said, “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.”
Ranveer Singh called Gully Boy one of his “most personal” films. In his press statement, he said, “I will keep striving towards making the flag of Hindi cinema fly high. I’m very happy that the passionate hard work that our cast and crew put into creating ‘Gully Boy’ is reaping rewards. It’s a proud moment for our entire team. I’m 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.”
Among the films that were submitted as entries were Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun, Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15, Anant Mahadevan’s Mai Ghat, Vetrimaaran’s Vada Chennai, Aditya Dhar’s Uri: The Surgical Strike, Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Super Deluxe and Bharat Kamma’s Dear Comrade.
India has never won an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language category. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chooses the winner from a shortlist of five entries. Only three Indian films have reached the shortlist: Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! (1988) and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan (2001).