One of Hollywood's premier award ceremonies is the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscar Awards. This award has had 92 ceremonies till now, including the most recent one. Indian cinema has even made several contributions to this highly-prestigious film award ceremony, with 3 Indian movies nominated for Oscars.

The biggest award ceremony in the world of cinema is important to people around the world. While there have been many award ceremonies since 1929, not many Bollywood movies nominated for Oscars have stood among the best movies in the world, let alone win an award.

Regardless, we can still appreciate some of the best creations Indian cinema has conjured up over the years, with this list of Indian movies nominated for Oscars. For those of you who can't wait to find out which Indian movies nominated for Oscar Awards, they are Mother India, Salaam Bombay, and Lagaan.

While Indian movies nominated for Oscars 2020 are non-existent, the success of Parasite of South Korea as the first Asian movie to win Best Picture and not just Best International Feature Film means we might not have to keep asking why Indian movies are not nominated for Oscar Awards for longer.

List of 3 Indian Movies Nominated for Oscars

Mother India

Mother India was produced in 1956 and officially released in cinemas in 1957. It is the first Indian movie nominated for Oscar Awards. This movie consists of an epic melodrama, directed by Mehboob Khan and starring Nargis Dutt, Sunil Dutt , Rajendra Kumar, and Raaj Kumar.

indian movies nominated for oscars

The title of the movie was chosen to counter the name of the racist book of an American writer named Katherine Mayo, which was released in 1927 under the same title as that of the movie. In the movie, allusions from Hindu mythology are abundant.

The main character Radha, has been seen as a metonymic representation of a Hindu woman who reflects the high moral values, what they represent, and what it means to be a mother in society through self-sacrifice.

It metaphorically represents the concept of "Mother India" as a nation in the wake of independence, alluding to a strong sense of family and nationhood. Although some have interpreted the main character Radha as a symbol of women's empowerment, other authors see her as a cast of female stereotypes.

Synopsis of Mother India

Radha (Nargis), is considered the "mother" of the village, who comes to inaugurate a new canal work. The woman, now old, begins to remember her past. Her mind travels to the moment of her wedding day with Shamu (Raaj Kumar), whose celebration is paid for by Radha's godmother through a lender named Sukhilala (Kanhaiyalal).

Due to the high costs of the event, the family is in extreme poverty that will last until practically the end of days. To repay that loan, they are forced to sell three-quarters of their harvest in the field.

The tragedy begins to take shape on the family when her husband Shamu loses both arms in an accident. Ashamed of his helplessness and the humiliation by others, he abandons Radha.

Salaam Bombay

This is an award-winning movie that shows off the everyday life of children who live on the streets of Bombay which is now called Mumbai. The movie was shot in Mumbai and Maharashtra. It was directed by Mira Nair, and the screenplay was written in collaboration with Sooni Taraporevala.

The movie won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, the National Board of Review Award for Best Foreign Film, the Caméra d'Or, the Cannes Film Festival Audience Award, and three awards at the World Film Festival in Montreal .

The movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and included in the list of the best 1,000 movies of all time ("The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made") of the New York Times


Lagaan is an Indian drama movie, produced and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, and released in 2001. The action takes place at the time of the Victorian era during the period of the British colonization of India. Possily the most exciting of all the Indian movies nominated for Oscars on this list.

Lagaan Indian Movies Nominated For Oscars

It relates the struggle of Bhuvan and the peasants of the province of Champaner to escape the unjust agricultural tax, or Lagaan, which can only be forgiven by accepting a wager over a cricket match versus the arrogant captain Russell.

The film won eight Filmfare Awards, including those for best film and best director. Lagaan is considered one of the greatest successes of Indian cinema. It was the third Indian movie among the Indian movies nominated for Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.

Lagaan - Synopsis

In 1893, under British occupation, the inhabitants of Champaner, a village in the center of India, wait impatiently for the monsoon because the harvests were meager.

Each year, the village has to pay the Lagaan, a tax on the grain harvest. In order to humiliate the villagers, the head of the local British garrison, Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne), wants to double this tax while they are on the verge of starvation.

The villagers then beg the Maharajah to intervene so that the captain reverses his decision. To solve this dispute with the young Bhuvan (Aamir Khan), the officer then offers a deal: if the Indians can beat the British in a cricket match, they would be exempt from the Lagaan for three years; however, if they lose, they will have to pay triple tax.

Indian Movies Nominated For Oscars Lagaan

Bhuvan, who believes that this sport resembles the traditional Indian sport gillidanda, takes up the challenge and constitutes a team entirely made up of volunteers, regardless of their religion, their caste, or their physical condition.

He then undertakes the training of his team, advised by Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), the sympathetic sister of the English officer, who is shocked by the inequity of the treatment inflicted on the villagers. She was also receptive to the charm of the young Indian.

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