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5 things to know about ‘Jallikattu’, India’s official entry for Oscars 2021

Lijo Jose Pellissery’s 2019 Malayalam movie, Jallikattu, has been selected as India’s official entry for the 93rd Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category. The movie is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 


When Jallikattu released in late 2019 across the country, it received rave reviews from many celebrated directors and filmmakers. The film even rates over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, an American review aggregator website. The onscreen success compelled movie fans to delve into its crisp story that frames a Dadaist structure. Jallikattu translates to ‘bull-taming’, a sport where a man establishes his manhood by controlling an animal. 

Here are 5 things you must know about this nomination for Oscars 2021 — 

The untamed human psyche

Jallikattu, which is based on S Hareesh’s short story Maoist, rips open the raw emotions that humans express when put under any pressure. The storyline culminates not when a bull escapes but when the residents are outsmarted by it. The megalomania and hysteria presented by Jose Pellissery via his characters are awe-inducing. Lijo Jose Pellissery co-wrote the screenplay with S. Hareesh and R. Jayakumar.


Regional films on the global map

While we distinctly remember the craze that SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali: The Beginning generated in 2015, over the years, several regional films from India have managed to capture the world’s attention. More than that, these films have also been a source of immense inspiration for mainstream Bollywood filmmakers. Other regional films that were selected for the same nomination include Nila Madhab Panda’s Odia film Kalira Atita (Yesterday’s Past) and Prateek Vats’ Tamil debut Eeb Allay Ooo!

Visually-appealing violence 

Lijo Jose Pellissery is already a renowned name in Malayalam movies. His unconventional approach attracts not only a niche section of movie lovers but also the masses. He often injects the storyline with a non-linear pattern and mainlines aestheticisation of violence, a rather substantial gift. Jallikattu binds different stories of multiple characters whose lives have been disrupted by the anarchy caused by a bull in their village. 

Director Lijo Jose Pellissery

Journey to the Oscars

Jallikattu first premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, following which it was also screened at the 24th Busan International Film Festival. Jose Pellissery also won Best Director award at the 50th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). And it bagged two awards — best director and best sound mixing — at the 50th Kerala State Film Awards earlier this year. 

Tough contenders 

In the last few years, movies like Newton, Court, Visaranai, Barfi, Peepli Live, among others have been submitted for nominations. The last Indian film to get nominated in the category, earlier known as the Best Foreign Language Film, was Lagaan in 2002. 

Jallikattu was chosen out of 27 films. The 26 other contenders were: The Sky is PinkGunjan SaxenaShakuntala DeviGulabo SitaboChippaChhalaangThe DiscipleShikaraBittersweet, Is Love Enough, SirMoothon, Kalira Atita, Bulbbul, Kaamyaab, Chintu Ka Birthday, The Check PostEeb Allay Ooo!Bahattar, HoorianMalangBhavaiAK Vs AKChhapaakBhonsleSerious MenI Pad, and Atkan Chatkan.

The 93rd Academy Awards is set to take place on April 25, 2021.

All images: Courtesy movie

Harleen Kalsi

Senior Editor

Harleen feeds off her nomadic spirit and incessant shenanigans on the road to stay alive. When not writing, she is busy searching for a good read/art/act.


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