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Oscars ‘Daily Bite’: ‘Lion,’ ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ more movies set in India

Dev Patel stars in

Dev Patel stars in "Lion," which is up for six Academy Awards. Credit: TWC / Mark Rogers

Oh, Calcutta! A good portion of “Lion,” which is up for six Academy Awards — including best picture, best actress (Nicole Kidman) and supporting actor (Dev Patel) — is set on the teeming streets of the Indian metropolis.

And going from “Lion” to a Bengal tiger, Disney’s live-action remake of “The Jungle Book” is vying for a best visual effects Oscar.

The Asian nation has served as the backdrop for many films, several of which have gotten recognition from the motion picture academy, starting with the 1939 disaster flick “The Rains Came,” which won a visual effects Oscar for its gripping monsoon scenes.

The 1980s were an especially ripe time for India-set films to achieve Oscar glory. “Gandhi,” Richard Attenborough’s three-hour-plus 1982 biography of the pacifist leader, racked up 11 nominations and won in eight categories including best picture, director and actor (Ben Kingsley).

Two years later, David Lean’s “A Passage to India” also scored 11 nomination with wins for Maurice Jarre’s score and supporting actress Peggy Ashcroft.

More recently, Danny Boyle’s 2008 drama “Slumdog Millionaire” about a Mumbai teen (Patel) whose appearance on an Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” leads him to recall his harsh experiences as a slum dweller, scored an impressive eight Academy Awards including best picture and director.

Ang Lee’s 2012 tale “Life of Pi,” about a shipwrecked young man stranded on a raft with a fearsome Bengal tiger, took home three Oscars including best director.

Whether “Lion” will be a roaring success on Oscar night is still unknown, but it has done reasonably well at the box office. Made for only $12 million, its worldwide gross has been $70.4 million.

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