A motion picture about a poor man trying to fulfill his dream of making the holy journey of Hajj will attempt to do what other Indian blockbuster films (Lagaan and Mother India) were unable to do in years past: win Oscar gold.
First-time director Salim Ahmed presented his movie: Adanubte Makan Abu (Abu, Son of Adam) to a packed audience in the Charlie Chaplin screening room on the Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles earlier in December in a bid to have his debut production included on the short list of five movies that will compete for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards on 26 February 2012.
While it is too early to be talking about whether an Indian film will finally win the much-coveted Oscar statuette, Ahmed managed to jumpstart his Academy Awards campaign after gaining acclaim at the 42nd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), where his movie earned the status of India's "official entry" for the 84th edition of the Oscar awards.
The Film Federation of India, the body that selects movies for Oscars, said the film beat 15 other movies contending for this staus.
In addition to earning the IFFI special jury award, Adanubte Makan Abu claimed four Indian National Awards for Best Film, Best Actor, Best Photography and Best Background Music.
Earlier this month, Ahmed left from India to Hollywood to appear at one of the minimum six local screenings a movie is required to make in order for the Academy jury to consider it among the five finalists for Best Foreign Language Film.
After the nearly two-hour screening at Raleigh Studios, Ahmed believes his movie and its message promotes the pureness of Islam.
"Islam is a misunderstood religion," Ahmed tsaid, noting that the main character explores the deeper meanings of the faith because "he is asking why God is not allowing him to reach Mecca."
In the same way the film's protagonist shuns the assistance of others in the name of remaining as pure to his faith as possible, Ahmed believes in his film so much that he hesitates to sell the film's distribution rights.
"Some people have contacted me, but I don't want to give to anyone the rights," he said. "I am holding the rights."
Holding on to the rights may not be such a bad thing should Adanubte Makan Abu claim one of the five nominee slots for best Foreign Language Film . If the movie does even better and actually wins Oscar gold, not only will several doors open for Ahmed as a filmmaker, but he will also make history in delivering the first-ever Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award to India.
Only three Indian movies -- Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay! (1988) and Lagaan (2001) -- have made it to the short list for the Academy's Best Foreign Language Film award. At last year's Academy Awards, Aamir Khan unsuccessfully campaigned to have Anusha Rizvi's earn a Best Foreign Film nomination.
At the previous (2011) Academy Awards, Algeria, Canada, Denmark, Greece, and Mexico werethe five countries nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, with Denmark's entry of In a Better World claiming the statuette.
Italy leads the world with 13 winning entries for Best Foreign Language Film out of 27 nominations. France, the all-time leader for short-listed nominations (36 nominations), has 12 winning entries.
Nepal is the only other South Asian nation to ever make the short list for Best Foreign Language Film, when the Academy considered Caravan in 1999.
Parimal M. Rohit, " Adanubte Makan Abu Makes Oscar Pitch in LA" India West December 29, 2011
"Malayalam film 'Adaminte Makan Abu' is India's entry for Oscar" IBN Live October 12, 2011
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today