International Recognition for Indian Cinema

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The first Indian film to be screened at the Venice Cinematograph Exhibition was ‘Seeta’ in 1934. The Marathi film ‘Sant Tukaram’ received a special jury mention in Venice in 1937. In 1938, another Indian film ‘Duniya Na Mane’ was screened in Venice. In 1949 the movie ‘Dharti Ke Lal’ became the first Indian film to receive widespread distribution in USSR. In 1954, Bimal Roy’s ‘Do Bigha Zameen’ received a special mention at Cannes and the Social Progress Award at Karlovy Vary. In 1955, Khaja Ahmed Abbas’s ‘Munna’ was shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Pather Panchali’ won the Cannes award for ‘the best human document’ besides several other foreign awards.

In 1957, Raj Kapoor’s ‘Jaagte Raho’ won the Grand Prix at Karlovy Vary in 1957. In the same year Satyajit Ray’s ‘Aparajito’ won the Golden Lion of St.Mark at the Venice Festival, besides the best director’s plaque and the Golden Laurel Award as the best non-American film and the Selznick Golden Trophy. Again in 1957, Tapan Sinha’s ‘Kabuliwala’ received a special mention for music in Berlin. V.Shantaram’s ‘Do Aankhe Bara Haath’ won a Silver Bear in the 8th International Film Festival at Berlin in 1959.

Sivaji Ganesan became the first South Indian film actor to win an international award when he won the Best Actor award in the Afro-Asian Film Festival held in Cairo in 1959 for his film ‘Veerapandiya Kattabomman’. S.V. Ranga Rao bagged the Best Actor award at the Indonesian Film Festival held in 1963 for his film ‘Narthanasala’. Satyajit Ray won the best director’s award at Berlin in 1963 for his film ‘Mahanagar’. He bagged this award again in the following year for his film ‘Charulata’. Suchitra Sen received the best actress award at Moscow for her role in the film ‘Sat Pake Bandha’ (1963). Waheeda Rahman bagged the best actress award in Chicago for her role in ‘Guide’ (1965). In 1969, the first Satyajit Ray retrospective was held at Cinematheque in Paris. The film ‘India Unveiled’ by Sanjiv Prakash won the Golden eagle Award in USA. Gautam Ghosh won the Golden Simurg Grand Prix at the Tashkent Film Festival held in May 1988 for his film ‘Antarjali Yatra’. In 1990, Adoor Gopalakrishnan won the FIPRESI and UNICEF awards for his film ‘Mathilukal’.


The film ‘Elizabeth’ (1999) created a sensation by winning seven Oscar nominations and one Oscar award. Its sequel ‘Elizabeth: the Golden Age’ (2007) won two Oscar nominations and one Oscar award. The Indian director-screen writer Manoj Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999) won three People’s Choice awards in California and five Oscar nominations.

​Meera Nair’s film ‘Salaam Bombay’ won the Golden Camera Prize at Cannes in 1989, while Deepa Mehta’s ‘Earth 1947’ won seven awards at the Melbourne film festival. In May 2000, the London-based Indian filmmaker Murali Nair won the Best film award at Cannes for his film ‘Marana Simhasanam’.

Anupam Kher’s maiden production ‘Bariwali’ bagged the Berlin festival’s NETPAC Award for the most outstanding film made in the Asia-Pacific region. Renowned actor Om Puri was nominated for the British Academy of Film and Television Award (BAFTA) for his role in the film ‘East is East’. Dev Benegal’s ‘Split Wide Open’ won the Special Jury Prize and its star, Rahul Bose, the Best Actor Award at the 13th Singapore International Film Festival. Nandita Das won the Best Actress award at the Santa Monica International Film Festival in California for her role in ‘Bawandar’. In April 2010, three Indian movies, ‘Bodhisattva’, ‘Ek Tho Chance’ and ‘Saluun’, bagged the coveted Remi awards at the 43rd Annual WorldFest-Houston International Film and Video Festival.

Director Nila Madhab Panda’s ‘I am Kalam’ (2010) bagged the best feature film prize and the Don Quijote Prize of the International Federation of Ciné-Clubs (FICC) awards at the 33rd Lucas International Film Festival.  Director Rajan Khosa’s ‘Gattu’ (2012) received a special mention under Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk category at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival. Ritesh Batra’s ‘The Lunchbox’ is credited with several awards and accolades globally, including the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award a.k.a Grand Rail d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. It was also India’s official entry for the BAFTA.

‘Titli’ directed by Kanu Behl, 2014 bagged the Best First Foreign Film Award conferred by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics 2016. Director Chaitanya Tamhane’s ‘Court’ (2014) received the Orizzonti Award and the Luigi De Laurentiis (English: Lion of the Future) award at its premiere at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. It also won the Best Film Award and Best Director Award for Tamhane at the Singapore International Film Festival, the Grand Prix and FIPRESCI Prize at the Auteur Film Festival, and special mentions at the Kyiv International Film Festival “Molodist” and FICUNAM International Film Festival.

Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Dhanak’ (2015) received the Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the best feature-length film at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. It also won the best film award at the Sneakers Children’s Festival in Poland. Neeraj Ghaywan’s ‘Masaan’ (2015) won the FIPRESCI Prize and the Avenir Prize in the Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival 2015.

​India has sent around fifty movies as nominees for the Academy Award (Oscars) in the category of Best Foreign Language Film but only three Indian films – ‘Mother India’ (1957), ‘Salaam Bombay’ (1988) and ‘Lagaan’ (2001) – have received final nominations for the Academy Award, but no Indian film has won the Award till now. Actor Kamal Haasan (with seven entries) is associated with most Oscar entries from India, followed by Aamir Khan (who received 5 entries, including ‘Peepli Live’ in 2010) and Satyajit Ray (with 3 entries).

The Indian individuals who have won the Oscar Awards include, Bhanu Athaiya for Best Costume Design (with John Mollo) for the film ‘Gandhi’ (1982); A.R.Rahman for Best Score and Best Original Song, Rasool Pookutty for Best Sound Mixing (with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke) and Gulzar for Best Song (lyrics) all for the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ (2008). Satyajit Ray had received an honorary Academy Award in 1991.

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