'Taare Zameen Par' is India's entry to Oscars

Shilpa Jamkhandikar

Bollywood star Aamir Khan interacts with medical students from the school of mental health at Nair hospital in Mumbai July 16, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A film about a boy struggling to come to terms with a learning disorder and his relationship with his teacher has been nominated as India’s entry to next year’s Oscar awards, the chairman of jury said on Saturday.

‘Taare Zameen Par’ (Stars on Earth), which released all over India last year in December marked the directorial debut of actor Aamir Khan and starred the actor in the role of a teacher who understands a dyslexic child when the system around him brands him as a failure.

“The film fulfils every criterion that is required of India’s entry to the Oscars. It was unanimously applauded, had great performances, was technically superior and has a strong humane message that is universal in nature,” chairman of the jury Suneel Darshan told Reuters.

‘Taare Zameen Par’ beat period drama ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ and two Maraathi films ‘Valu’ and ‘Tingya’.

India’s entry to the Oscars for the best foreign language film was shrouded in controversy last year after a film maker took the decision making body, the Film Federation of India (FFI), to court, alleging that the process was biased.

This time around, the FFI said, all guidelines have been followed. “We have followed whatever guidelines the High Court had set out for us. The choice was unanimous,” secretary FFI, Supran Sen said.

India has not seen much success at the Oscars. The last film to be nominated was ‘Lagaan’ (Land Tax), in 2002, which coincidentally starred Aamir and marked another milestone for him - his first home production.

“Aamir has proved lucky for us. Lagaan was nominated last, and now we hope Taare Zameen Par will do the same. Fortunately for him the level of cinema elsewhere has not been that good, so we stand a good chance,” Darshan said.

“I am really happy that Taare Zameen Par been selected to represent India at an international forum like the Oscars. It is a film that is extremely close to my heart,” a statement released by Aamir Khan’s publicist quoted the actor as saying.

“It’s a film that first sensitized me as a parent and as person and then went on to have same effect on all the audience in India and across the globe. I hope that it has an equally strong impact on the members of the academy as well.”