Gyan Correa's debut Gujarati movie The Good Road, a lost-and-found story of a small boy, was nominated as India's official entry at next year's Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category.
National award-winning The Good Road saw off strong competition from films like The Lunchbox, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, English Vinglish, Malayalam film Celluloid and Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam.
"There were 22 entries from different parts of India for consideration this year. Films like The Lunchbox, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Vishwaroopam were short-listed but it was an unanimous decision by the 19-member jury to select The Good Road, In fact, The Lunchbox was a very strong contender," Gautam Ghosh, chairman of Oscar selection committee of Film Federation of India, told PTI.
He said the jury had a five-hour-long discussion before finally selecting The Good Road, which won the national award for the best Gujarati film. "This is a new film but The Good Road surprises as it shows the unknown India through the story of a boy who is lost and then found while his family is on a holiday trip to Kutch," Ghosh added.
Correa, 42, who teamed up with local people like a truck driver Shamjibhai to make his documentary-style road drama, said the selection is only the beginning of a journey.
"It's fabulous that The Good Road has been nominated for the Oscars and I congratulate each and every member of the film, for this moment. It's the recognition of all little people of India like Shamjibhai and all their great stories to tell. And it's just the beginning of the journey now," he said in a statement.
Produced by National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), the film stars Keval Katrodia as seven-year-old Aditya who loses his way in the desert. It also stars Sonali Kulkarni and actor Ajay Gehi as Aditya's parents.
Last year, Barfi! was nominated from India. The last Indian film that made it to the final five nominees at the Oscars was Ashutosh Gowariker's 2002 film Lagaan.
Mother India and Salaam Bombay are the only other Indian films to have made it to the top five. The 86th Academy award will take place on March 2, next year.