A Tamil prison thriller edged out popular Bollywood films “Bajirao Mastani” and “Sultan” to be chosen as India’s official entry in the best foreign film category at the Academy Awards next year.
“‘Visaranai’ was chosen from a list of 29 films,” said Supran Sen, secretary of the Film Federation of India (FFI), the industry body that chooses India’s Oscar entry each year. The 12-member jury appointed by the FFI was headed by film-maker Ketan Mehta this year.
“Visaranai” (Interrogation), directed by Vetrimaaran, takes a hard-hitting look at corruption in the police force. The film is the story of four labourers from Tamil Nadu who work in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and are arrested for a theft they did not commit.
The film, punctuated with violence and graphic scenes that show the labourers being interrogated by police, premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year and won the Amnesty International Italia Award.
Indian films have traditionally not made the cut in the foreign film category at the Oscars, with “Lagaan” the only Indian film in recent times to make it to the Academy Award shortlist in 2001.
In 2013, leading film-makers and actors alleged a lack of transparency in the selection process after the Gujarati film “The Good Road” was chosen as India’s official entry over Ritesh Batra’s critically acclaimed “The Lunchbox”.