New Delhi: Gyan Correa's debut Gujarati movie 'The Good Road', a lost-and-found story of a small boy, was today 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.
The news, however, has not gone down well with 'The Lunchbox' co-producer Anurag Kashyap and presenter Karan Johar, who took to Twitter to express their anger.
"Feeling very very disappointed, can't comment on the film I have not seen, but it better make it to final five. I don't know who the federation is but it goes to show, why we completely lack the understanding to make films that can travel across borders..."
"We should then make a clean policy, you want to send the best film, then send the National award winner or send the one most likely to win," Kashyap tweeted.
Johar echoed Kashyap, saying the country may have lost its 'golden chance' by not nominating 'The Lunchbox'.
"Really shocked and dissapointed.... #LUNCHBOX had every factor working in its favour... we may have just lost our golden chance.... SAD!!! (sic)," Johar tweeted.
Director Ritesh Batra, whose debut film won the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award at Cannes this year, and received positive buzz in other international festivals, said the FFI-appointed jury lacked vision.
"Congrats to 'The Good Road'. Hope it makes it all the way, else it will be a lost chance by FFI-appointed jury that lacks vision. Hope I am wrong," he tweeted.
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.