India’s official entry for Oscars is Rima Das’ Village Rockstars, but two films with a Bengal connection are also in the running for next year’s Academy Awards.
Norway has sent What Will People Say which stars Ekavali Khanna who has featured in Bengali and Hindi films including Sanjay Misra-starrer Angrezi Mei Kehte Hain and Bioscopewala which also stars Danny Dezongpa and Geetanjali Thapa. While Bangladesh’s official entry is Doob: No Bed of Roses who has appeared in Bengali films such as Dutta vs Dutta, Apur Panchali and The Bongs Again.
What Will People Say is about a Pakistani teenager in Norway who is sent back to her extended family in Pakistan when she seemingly soils her reputation. Other than Ekavali Khanna, the film also stars Adil Hussain and is directed by Iram Haq.
Starring Irrfan Khan, Doob is about a successful filmmaker facing a midlife crisis when he has a tryst with his daughter’s childhood friend, causing a national scandal. Directed by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, the film also features Rokeya Prachi as Irrfan’s wife while Nusrat Imrose Tisha plays the daughter and Parno Mittra plays her childhood friend. The film was once banned in Bangladesh on the grounds that it might be based on author and filmmaker Ahmed, who divorced his wife of 27 years and married an actress 33 years his junior.
Though no film from Bangladesh has ever been nominated for Oscars since the country began sending submissions in 2002, five films from Norway have been nominated — the last being Kon-Tiki in 2012. The country is yet to win an Oscar.
The Oscars will announce a shortlist of 9 films running for Best Foreign Language Films in December and 5 of them will be nominated for the Oscars in January. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on February 24, 2019.