How a Hindi film will represent Cameroon at the Oscars

Oct 11, 2016, 08:38 IST | Sonil Dedhia

How a small-time desi flick became a West African country's first official entry to the Oscars

Rekha Rana

Almost two weeks after the Tamil thriller 'Visaranai' was chosen as India's official entry to 2017 Oscars, it turns out another Indian film has been sent to compete for the same foreign film category at the Academy Awards. The movie is in Hindi. But which country is it going to represent? Republic of Cameroon.

Titled 'Yahan Amina Bikti Hai', the small budget film has in fact, been sent to the big-ticket event as "the first ever feature film sent by Cameroon to the Oscar Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category," as per a certificate (provided to us by the producers), signed by Georges Madiba, director of cinematography and audio visuals, Ministry of Arts and Culture, Cameroon. Here's how this peculiar stroke of globalisation panned out. Looking closer at the production-credits reveals the Cameroon-based MD4 Productions as partner on the project, which allows this wholly India-centric movie a circuitous passage to an Academy long-list as an African film. Kumar Raj, the film's India producer, says, "The film's a woman-oriented drama. We released it in Cameroon in April. The intention behind making a film with a foreign production house was to get an opportunity to work with international technicians, and generate funds easily." The film stars Rekha Rana in the main role.

The cast and crew of Yahan Amina Bikti Hai
The cast and crew of Yahan Amina Bikti Hai

Interestingly, in 2014, another African nation, Togo, had sent Kumar Raj's film, Tara, which also featured Rekha Rana, as its official entry to the coveted film awards.

Rekha says of Yahan Amina Bikti Hai, "When I was selected to play the lead, I took it on as a responsibility, because the film tells the story of generations of women who have gone through scarring experiences."

The certificate from the Ministry of Arts and Culture, Cameroon
The certificate from the Ministry of Arts and Culture, Cameroon

Jean Louis Moussinga, the movie's African producer messaged hitlist from Cameroon, "I hope the film is shortlisted. After the success of this one, we are looking at producing more content-driven films from India." Of course, whether the Oscars will accept the entry is to be seen. The Academy stipulates that films being entered for "foreign language category" have to be in the spoken language of the submitting country. Yahan Amina... is wholly a Hindi film.

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