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India Picks Surprise Oscar Submission: Harishchandrachi Factory

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 8, 2009 at 12:30PM

Only three Indian films have been nominated for the best foreign film Oscar: 1957's Mother India, Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay in 1988, and Lagaan, in 2001. This year's choice was a surprise, from 40-year-old rookie director Paresh Mokashi: Harishchandrachi Factory, the story of India's first feature film. Made in 1913, Raja Harishchandra was directed by Dadasaheb Phalke, the D.W. Griffith of Indian cinema.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Only three Indian films have been nominated for the best foreign film Oscar: 1957's Mother India, Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay in 1988, and Lagaan, in 2001. This year's choice was a surprise, from 40-year-old rookie director Paresh Mokashi: Harishchandrachi Factory, the story of India's first feature film. Made in 1913, Raja Harishchandra was directed by Dadasaheb Phalke, the D.W. Griffith of Indian cinema.

Wrapped in January, the film has not been released in India. The only other Marathi film submitted for the Oscar was Sandeep Sawant’s Shwaas, in 2004.

This article is related to: Awards, Oscars


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.