India Chooses 'Barfi!' for Oscars Foreign-Language Entry

Disney UTV Studios

The Charlie Chaplinesque film stars Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra and is directed by Anurag Basu.

NEW DELHI – India's official entry for the 2013 Oscars is Barfi!, produced by Disney UTV Studios.

The announcement was made by the Film Federation of India. Barfi! (the name refers to an Indian sweet) stars top actor Ranbir Kapoor in the title role of a deaf and mute young man and his love for an autistic girl (top actress Priyanka Chopra) while upcoming South Indian actress Ileana D'Cruz completes the love triangle.

Kapoor's performance as a fun-filled character has shades of Charlie Chaplin with some scenes even paying tribute to gags from his comedy classics. Budgeted at an estimated $6 million (330 million rupees), the film is a departure for director Anurag Basu, whose previous films such as Life In A Metro and Gangster tackled mostly dark themes.

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“I try and make films which are different from each other and yes, Barfi! is my first U (Universal) certificate film which is more friendly for family audiences. I wanted to make a film which talks about celebrating life,” Basu told THR in an interview.

Since its Sept. 14 release on 700 screens in India, Barfi! has grossed an estimated $10 million (550 million rupees) with the film also receiving critical acclaim. The Film Federation of India shortlisted 17 entries for the Oscars which included 11 Hindi language films along with regional titles. These included the two-part Gangs of Wasseypur (which premiered at Cannes this year), South Indian Telegu language film Eega (one of the year's biggest critical and commercial hits) and Marathi language title Deool, which shared a best feature win at India's National Awards in March.

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“We are honored that Barfi! has been selected to represent India as its official entry to the 2013 Academy Awards. Barfi! is very close to the hearts of all of us at UTV and it gives us great satisfaction that a film we have developed and nurtured from its inception has met with so much love from audiences and critics worldwide. An added source of pride is that this is the fourth UTV film in the last seven years to have been selected to represent India at the Academy Awards, our earlier selections being Rang De Basanti (2006), Harishchandrachi Factory (2009) and Peepli Live (2010),” said Disney UTV Studios MD Siddharth Roy Kapur.

Barfi! will screen at the Busan festival on Oct. 11, after which it will travel to the Marrakesh festival.