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Row on Eklavya: India lambasts Oscar officials

India's Oscar selectors accuse Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science of 'disparaging' comments.
Reuters | By Krittivas Mukherjee, Mumbai
UPDATED ON OCT 15, 2007 02:59 PM IST

India's Oscar selectors accused Hollywood's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science of "disparaging" comments on Monday after it questioned the country's official award entry this year.

The Oscar authorities have asked India to reconfirm by Wednesday its official entry in the best foreign film category after they raised doubts in a letter about the fairness in the selection.

"It was a little disparaging the way things were put in that letter," Vinod Pande, chairman of the India's Oscar selection committee, told Reuters on Monday.

Eklavya: The Royal Guard, a film about palace intrigues and starring one of Bollywood's biggest stars Amitabh Bachchan, was selected from among five films. It was a commercial flop and received mediocre reviews.

That led Bhavna Talwar, director of the critically-acclaimed Dharm, or Religion, which came a close second, to take the selectors to court.

She said her film, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, lost out because some members of the jury were known to the director and producer of Eklavya.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences then wrote to the Indian selection committee expressing surprise that courts were adjudicating decisions like nominating a film.

It also said the Film Federation of India, which appointed the selection committee that nominates India's official entry to the Oscars, should have better judging standards.

"But I have told them we have strong democratic values and that an aggrieved person had every right to seek justice in court," said Pande.

Dharm is the story of a staunch Hindu priest who adopts an abandoned child but later discovers the baby had Muslim parents.

Pande said they would meet this week to make a decision on whether Eklavya will remain India's official entry.

India has never won the Oscar for best foreign film despite having the world's biggest cinema industry in terms of ticket sales.

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