Malayalam film Jallikattu, directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery, has been selected as India’s official entry to the Academy Awards, or the Oscars for this year.
The film, starring Antony Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose, Sabumon Abdusamad and Santhy Balachandran, follows the plot of a bull that runs amok from a slaughterhouse in a hilly remote village with all the residents gathering to hunt down the animal.
Released in Kerala in October 2019, Jallikattu was premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and the 24th Busan International Film Festival, where it received much acclaim. Pellissery had received the Best Director trophy at the 50th International Film Festival of India for the film.
Jallikattu is the second Malayalam film to be submitted as the country’s entry to the Oscars in the past decade after Adaminte Makan Abu in 2011. Zoya Akhtar’s musical drama Gully Boy was the selected entry last year. However, only three Indian films have ever made it to the final list of Oscar nominations—Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay! (1988) and Lagaan (2001). The 2021 Academy Awards will be held on April 25, 2021 instead of the usual second Sunday of February because of the covid-19 pandemic.
A lot of users on Twitter lauded the selection given the film’s powerful story and treatment. In its review in 2019, movie portal Film Companion had said that Pellissery gives a master-class (with the film) on how to make a movie that’s both experimental and entertaining.
“Jallikattu wants to transform local colour and local history into something universal and primal — and even if the bigger point becomes repetitive after a while, the film is always rewarding,” it had said.