India first started submitting movies for the Best Foreign Language Film Category in Oscars in 1957. As of 2017, only 3 movies submitted to the Oscars have been nominated, though none of them have won the award. Here are all the movies that were submitted as India’s official entry to Oscar:
1. Mother India: 1957 Submission – Nominated
India’s first submission to Oscars, Mehboob Khan directorial starring Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, and Raaj Kumar, lost out to Nights of Cabiria for the award with just one vote.
2. Madhumati: 1958 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Bimal Roy, Madhumati – starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala in the lead roles – is a paranormal romance and one of the first movies to deal with the concept of reincarnation.
3. Apur Sansar: 1959 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Satyajit Ray, this Bengali movie marked the debut of notable actors Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore. It was the third movie in The Apu Trilogy.
4. Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam: 1962 Submission – Not Nominated
Based on the Bengali novel, Shaheb Bibi Golam, the movie – directed by Abrar Alvi and starring Meena Kumari, Guru Dutt, and Waheeda Rehman – was a tragically beautiful take on estranged relationships and platonic friendships. The movie is regarded as one of Meena Kumari’s finest works.
5. Mahanagar: 1963 Submission – Not Nominated
This Bengali movie, that marked the debut of Jaya Bachchan (in a supporting role), was directed by Satyajit Ray. The movie talks about a housewife who challenged societal notions by taking up a job and also reflected the economic realities of the urban middle-class. The movie is actually relevant even in the current times, especially for its treatment of patriarchy.
6. Guide: 1965 Submission – Not Nominated
This romantic drama, based on a novel of the same name by R.K. Narayan, is one of the most iconic love stories from Bollywood. Starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman in lead roles, and directed by Vijay Anand, the movie is still remembered for one of the finest soundtracks composed.
7. Amrapali: 1966 Submission – Not Nominated
Starring Vyjayanthimala and Sunil Dutt, and directed by Lekh Tandon, the movie was a historical romantic drama focusing on the life of a king who falls for a royal courtesan. The movie is also applauded for having a strong message of anti-war.
8. Aakhri Khat: 1967 Submission – Not Nominated
The movie, that marked the debut of actor Rajesh Khanna, was written and directed by Chetan Anand. The movie is a hard-hitting tale that reflects the apathy of society and the shocking results of personal greed. The movie is also remembered for its direction and cinematography – especially parts of the movie that have been recorded using a handheld camera.
9. Majhli Didi: 1968 Submission – Not Nominated
Based on a novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay and directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee starred Meena Kumari and Dharmendra in lead roles. The family drama dealt with the life of a woman after marriage, and how she stands up for what is right – even if it meant going against her family.
10. Deiva Magan: 1969 Submission – Not Nominated
The first Tamil movie to be nominated for Oscars, Deiva Magan was directed by A. C. Tirulokchandar and starred Sivaji Ganesan and Jayalalitha. The film was a family drama and showcased the story of a disfigured man who separates one of his children from his mother, because of his own insecurities.
11. Reshma aur Shera: 1971 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Sunil Dutt, the movie also starred Sunil Dutt and Waheeda Rehman in the lead roles. This crime drama showcased a love story set against the backdrop of feudal clans – a plot that many Bollywood movies recreated in the following years.
12. Uphaar: 1972 Submission – Not Nominated
Uphaar, starring Jaya Bhaduri, Swarup Dutt, and Kamini Kaushal, was a love story inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s short story, Samapti. The movie, directed by Sudhendu Roy, is a simple but beautiful tale of a man and woman falling in love after marriage.
13. Saudagar: 1973 Submission – Not Nominated
Saudagar, directed by Sudhendu Roy and starring Amitabh Bachchan and Nutan, is a romantic drama that showcased the lead hero as a flawed character. The movie is the story of a young trader who marries and then divorces a widow for selfish reasons, only to later realize his mistake.
14. Garam Hawa: 1974 Submission – Not Nominated
Based on writer Ismat Chughtai’s short story, Garam Hawa is an Urdu movie directed by M. S. Sathyu, with Balraj Sahni as the lead. The film dealt with the aftermath of partition in India. It is one of the most iconic movies, to have sensitively dealt with the condition of Muslims in India, post partition.
15. Manthan: 1977 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Shyam Benegal, Manthan is inspired by Verghese Kurien’s cooperative dairy movement and is inspired by the White Revolution of India. The movie stars Smita Patil, Amrish Puri, and Naseeruddin Shah the movie, and was actually crowdfunded by the Indian farmers, who contributed ₹ 2 each.
16. Shatranj Ke Khilari: 1978 Submission – Not Nominated
This was one of director Satyajit Ray’s Hindi language films and had a stellar starcast that included Amjad Khan, Richard Attenborough, Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, among others. The movie is set against the backdrop of India’s freedom from British rule.
17. Payal Ki Jhankaar: 1980 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Satyen Bose, the movie dealt with the story of a young dancer, who turns her passion into her profession when she is shunned by her family and her idol.
18. Saraansh: 1984 Submission – Not Nominated
The movie, directed by Mahesh Bhatt and starring Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangadi, deals with an aged couple’s loss over their only child. The movie is still remembered for Anupam Kher’s expert performance – as he was only 28 at the time, and yet he debuted as a nearly 60-year-old man.
19. Saagar: 1985 Submission – Not Nominated
This romantic drama, starring Rishi Kapoor, Kamal Haasan, and Dimple Kapadia, was directed by Ramesh Sippy. Even though the story – that was a love triangle set against class differences – was not completely unique, the actors’ performances were decidedly memorable.
20. Swati Mutyam: 1986 Submission – Not Nominated
A cult classic, the Telugu movie starred Kamal Haasan and Raadhika in the lead roles and was directed by K. Viswanath. The movie was a love story between a widow and an autistic man and was considered ahead of its time, especially in the treatment of the subject of widow remarriage.
21. Nayakan: 1987 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Mani Ratnam, and starring Kamal Haasan and Saranya in lead roles, this Tamil film is one of the first movies to be inspired by the Bombay underworld.
22. Salaam Bombay!: 1988 Submission – Nominated
Written and directed by Miran Nair, Salaam Bombay! chronicles the lives of children residing in the Bombay slums. Though many movies have used the Mumbai slums as a movie setting, Salaam Bombay still remains one of the most impressive movies on the subject. In fact, it won the National Award and was also included in The New York Times’ list of best 1000 movies ever made.
23. Parinda: 1989 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Vidh Vinod Chopra, the movie starred Nana Patekar, Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit and is till date considered to one of the finest crime thrillers in Bollywood. It even won the National Award.
24. Anjali: 1990 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Mani Ratnam, this Telugu language film was dubbed in Hindi and Telugu and won three National Awards. The story was the heartwrenching tale of a family whose young daughter is has a mental illness and is close to her death.
25. Henna: 1991 Submission – Not Nominated
The film’s initial direction was started by legendary director Raj Kapoor who unfortunately passed away during the filming process. The movie was then completed by his son Randhir Kapoor. Starring Rishi Kapoor, Ashwini Bhave and Zeba Bakhtiyar, the movie is one of Bollywood’s most famous love stories.
26. Thevar Magan: 1992 Submission – Not Nominated
Thevar Magan, the Tamil film starring Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Revathi, Gautami and Nassar, was directed by Bharathan and won the National Award. The movie, that was a family drama, was even dubbed in Hindi (as Virasat), Kannada, and Telugu. It was commercial success across all box-offices.
27. Rudaali: 1993 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Kalpana Lajmi, the movie starred Dimple Kapadia in the titular role and dealt with the life of a professional mourner – a custom prevalent in the villages of Rajasthan.
28. Bandit Queen: 1994 Submission – Not Nominated
One of Bollywood’s first biographical dramas, the movie was directed by Shekhar Kapur and was based on the life of famous bandit Phoolan Devi. The movie starred Manoj Bajpayee, Nirmal Pandey, and Seema Biswas and won the National Award.
29. Kuruthipunal: 1995 Submission – Not Nominated
The film, considered to be a trendsetter for neo-noir action thriller in Tamil cinema, starred Kamal Haasan in the lead role and was directed by P. C. Sreeram. The movie won critical acclaim after its release and was dubbed in Telugu as Drohi.
30. Indian (Hindustani): 1996 Submission – Not Nominated
The Tamil movie, that was directed by Shankar and starred Kamal Haasan in the lead roles, is still remembered for Kamal Haasan’s amazing transformation into a 70-year-old man. Also, even though the industry is known for vigilante movies, Indian still remains one of the finest vigilante movies of Tamil cinema.
31. Guru: 1997 Submission – Not Nominated
Guru was a Malayalam fantasy film directed by Rajiv Anchal, starring Mohanlal in the lead role. The movie was highly metaphorical in its treatment of societal division, ignorance of human beings, and the power of liberating knowledge.
32. Jeans: 1998 Submission – Not Nominated
This Tamil romantic comedy directed by S. Shankar and starring Prashanth, Aishwarya Rai and Nassar, was at the time one of the most expensive movies to be made. It was a commercial success and later dubbed into Hindi and Telugu.
33. 1947 Earth: 1999 Submission – Not Nominated
The second movie in director Deepa Mehta’s ‘Elements Trilogy’, 1947 Earth starred Aamir Khan, Rahul Khanna, and Nandita Das and was set during the 1947 partition of India.
34. Hey Ram: 2000 Submission – Not Nominated
The movie, that was written and directed by Kamal Haasan, was simultaneously made in Tamil, Hindi and Telugu. The film was an alternate, political and historical fictional thriller starring Kamal Haasan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hema Malini among others and was based on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse.
35. Lagaan: 2001 Submission – Nominated
An epic sports-drama, Lagaan starred Aamir Khan and Gracy Singh in the lead roles and was directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. The film – that combined patriotism and cricket – easily became one of the highest grossing movies of Bollywood.
36. Devdas: 2002 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and starring Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Madhuri Dixit, this is one of the grandest re-telling of the popular novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.
37. Shwaas: 2004 Submission – Not Nominated
This Marathi film won the National Award and got nominated for Oscars, despite being made on a low budget of only ₹ 30 Lakhs. Based on a real-life incident, the movie was directed by debutant Sandeep Sawant and shot in just 30 days.
36. Paheli: 2005 Submission – Not Nominated
This was a fantasy romantic drama, directed by Amol Palekar and starring Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji in lead roles. During the same year an English-Telugu film Morning Raga – directed by Mahesh Dattani and starring Shabana Azmi and Perizaad Zorabian – was submitted as an independent entry. Neither of the movies won a nomination.
37. Rang De Basanti: 2006 Submission – Not Nominated
Written and directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, this is still considered as one of the best movies to define the Indian millennial generation. The movie starred Aamir Khan, Siddharth Narayan, Soha Ali Khan, Kunal Kapoor, R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Atul Kulkarni and British actress Alice Patten.
38. Eklavya: The Royal Guard: 2007 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the film was a mystery drama movie starring an ensemble starcast, Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Sharmila Tagore, Sanjay Dutt, Vidya Balan, Raima Sen, Jackie Shroff, Jimmy Sheirgill and Boman Irani.
39. Taare Zameen Par: 2008 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Aamir Khan (who also starred in the movie), the movie that dealt with the issue of dyslexia and the flawed education system, became an eye-opener for the Indian society. Starring Darsheel Safary in the lead role, the movie won the National Film Award for Best Film on Family Welfare.
40. Harishchandrachi Factory: 2009 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Paresh Mokashi, this Marathi movie chronicles the struggles that Dadasaheb Phalke faced when making India’s first feature film, Harishchandra in 1913. The movie starred Nandu Madhav and Vibhavari Deshpande.
41. Peepli Live: 2010 Submission – Not Nominated
Written by Anusha Rizvi, this movie was also her directorial debut and was a satirical comedy – a severely underexplored genre in Indian cinema. The film dealt with the issue of farmer suicide and the political and media reaction to it and starred Raghubir Yadav, Shalini Vatsa, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui among others.
42. Adaminte Makan Abu: 2011 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by debut director Salim Ahamed, this Malayalam movie starred Salim Kumar and Zarina Wahab. The film won 4 National Awards, and showed the life of a poor attar seller, on a quest to fulfill his last wish of completing the Hajj pilgrimage.
43. Barfi!: 2012 Submission – Not Nominated
Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D’cruz, the movie was a romantic comedy directed by Anurag Basu. It became one of the highest grossing movies of the year and is still remembered for the expert performances by the actors and an amazing soundtrack.
44. The Good Road: 2013 Submission – Not Nominated.
The first Gujarati film to be submitted for Oscars, the movie was written and directed by Gyan Correa. The story starred Ajay Gehi and Sonali Kulkarni in the lead roles.
45. Liar’s Dice: 2014 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Geetu Mohandas, the movie starred Geetanjali Thapa and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in lead roles and won Geetanjali Thapa a National Award for her performance. The film dealt with the life of villagers who migrate to cities, and the plight they suffer.
46. Court: 2015 Submission – Not Nominated
This Marathi movie is Chaitanya Tamhane’s directorial debut, and he wrote the story as well. A legal drama, the movie starred Vira Sathidar in the lead role. The film also won the National Film Award.
47. Visaranai: 2016 Submission – Not Nominated
A Tamil docudrama crime thriller, the movie was written and directed by Vetrimaaran, and starred Dinesh, Anandhi and Aadukalam Murugadoss in the lead roles. The film dealt with corruption and police brutality.
48. Newton: 2017 Submission – Not Nominated
Directed by Amit V. Masurkar (who is also a co-writer), the film starred Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Anjali Patil and Raghubir Yadav. A comedy-drama, the movie highlighted the reality of Indian election process in remote villages and was appreciated for its unique yet realistic storyline.
49. Village Rockstars: 2018 Submission
Directed by Rima Das, this Assamese movies shows the life of a 10-year-old girl who fights society, poverty, and natural calamities in the pursuit of her innocent dream to own a guitar.
Let’s hope Village Rockstars becomes the fourth movie to win a nomination, and hopefully the first film to win the award too!