'Stars on Earth' is India's Oscar contender

'Strong humane message' cited along with qualifications

NEW DELHI -- "Taare Zameen Par" (Stars on Earth), a critical and commercial success about a boy struggling with dyslexia, has been chosen as India's foreign-language Oscar entry.

Co-produced by Mumbai-based PVR Pictures and actor Aamir Khan -- who stars as an understanding teacher who helps the boy (Darsheel Safary) -- "Stars" also marked Khan's directorial debut.

"Stars" is Khan's second tryst with the Oscars. He produced the 2002 foreign-language nominee "Lagaan," in which he also acted.

Film Federation of India jury chairman Suneel Darshan said that "Stars" "fulfills every criterion that is required of India's entry to the Oscars ... and has a strong humane message that is universal in nature."

"Stars" beat out nine other contenders including the blockbuster historical epic "Jodhaa Akbar," musical drama "Rock On!!" and "Mumbai Meri Jaan" (Mumbai My Love).

Last year's entry procedure for the Oscars led to a legal case against the FFI by the producers of "Dharm" (Religion), who questioned why that film was not selected over "Eklavya: The Royal Guard," alleging that the selection process was biased.

The case led to a judgment outlining revised guidelines for the selection process that have been followed this year, an FFI spokesperson said.