Oscars: India Selects 'Liar's Dice' for Foreign-Language Category

'Liar's Dice'

The Hindi film screened at Sundance and won at India's National Film Awards

The Film Federation of India announced Tuesday that the Hindi-language film Liar's Dice is the country's Oscar entry in the foreign-language film category.

Following its premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival last year, Dice competed at Sundance in the world cinema section.

The film is directed by Geetu Mohandas, a well-known actress in south Indian Malayalam-language cinema, who also wrote the script. Dice stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui (The Lunchbox) and Geetanjali Thapa.

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The film follows a young woman (Thapa) from Himachal Pradesh state (in the Himalayan foothills) who embarks on a journey with her daughter and a pet goat to find her missing husband in Delhi. Along the way, they find a free-spirited army deserter (Siddiqui) who helps them get to their destination, but has his own selfish reasons.

The project was developed with a grant of about $14,000 from the Rotterdam Festival's Hubert Bals Fund. Earlier this year, Liar's Dice won the special jury award at the Sofia International Film Festival in Bulgaria. In addition to traveling to various festivals, Dice went on to win the Indian government's National Awards honor for best actress (for Thapa) and cinematography (Rajeev Ravi).

The FFI shortlisted a record 30 titles for this year's Oscar entry. These included Viacom18's surprise Bollywood hit Queen, starring Kangana Ranaut, real-life drama Shahid (distributed by Disney-UTV) and regional-language films such as Marathi title Yellow and Bengali film Jaatishwar.

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Last year's Oscar entry selection sparked controversy when the critically acclaimed Cannes favorite The Lunchbox was overlooked and The Good Road was submitted instead.

India's history at the Oscars has seen only three films making it to the final list of nominees in the best foreign-language film category: Mother India, Salaam Bombay and Lagaan.

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