Oscars: India Selects 'Gully Boy' for International Feature Film Category

Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival
Ranveer Singh in 'Gully Boy'

Inspired by the lives of Mumbai street rappers Divine and Naezy, the Zoya Akhtar-directed film stars Ranveer Singh as a struggling rapper who breaks through while U.S. rapper Nas serves as an executive producer.

India has selected Gully Boy as the country's official entry for consideration in the best international feature film category at the 2020 Oscars.

Directed by Zoya Akhtar, the film is inspired by the lives of Mumbai street rappers Divine and Naezy and stars Ranveer Singh as an aspiring rapper living in the slums who dreams of breaking through. Alia Bhatt plays his love interest.

American rapper Nas served as an executive producer, while Akhtar and her brother and filmmaker Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani produced the film via their Tiger Baby and Excel Entertainment banners.

The critically acclaimed Gully Boy premiered in Berlin and also performed strongly at the box office when it released in February while throwing the spotlight on India's growing underground hip-hop scene.

In its Berlin review, The Hollywood Reporter noted that Akhtar "directs with flair and passion and, aided by explosive performances from a right-on cast, triumphs over the familiarity of the star-is-born storyline."

While India has earned three Academy Award nominations in what was previously known as the foreign-language category — starting with 1957's Mother India, followed by 1989's Salaam Bombay and 2002's Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India — the country has yet to win an Oscar. Last year, India's submission was Rima Das' Village Rockstars.

However, in their individual capacity, Indian talent has picked up Oscars starting with the country’s first winner, Bhanu Athaiya, who won for costume design for Richard Attenborough’s 1982 epic Gandhi. The late Satyajit Ray was bestowed an honorary Oscar in 1992 and after a long spell. And composer A. R. Rahman picked up two trophies for best song and best original score for Slumdog Millionaire in 2009, while Resul Pookutty won best sound mixing for the same film.

The 92nd Academy Awards are set to take place Feb. 9, 2020.