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Bollywood Legends and Rising Stars Among 487 New Academy Members

Veteran actor Shabana Azmi, “RRR” director SS Rajamouli, producer Ritesh Sidhwani, and noted cinematographer Ravi Varman are among the 487 new members invited this year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In a statement shared on its website on late Tuesday night, the Academy announced that this list includes artists and executives who have made distinguished contributions to theatrical motion pictures.

Membership selection is rigorously based on professional qualifications, emphasizing representation, inclusion, and equity, according to the Los Angeles-based institution. The inclusion of such prominent figures from the Indian film industry is being seen as a testament to their global influence and the growing recognition of Indian cinema on the world stage.

Shabana Azmi, a luminary in both Indian and international cinema, has been invited to join the Actors branch. This invitation coincides with Azmi’s completion of 50 remarkable years in the industry, having made her debut in Shyam Benegal’s “Ankur” in 1974. Known for her powerful performances in films such as “Godmother,” “Arth,” “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” “In Custody,” and most recently “Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani,” the celebrated actor has featured in over 140 Hindi films and 12 international productions. Azmi’s body of work, which showcases her versatility and depth, has earned her numerous awards and accolades over the years.

SS Rajamouli, the visionary filmmaker behind the epic “RRR,” which garnered India its first Academy Award in 2023, has been inducted into the Director’s branch. Rajamouli’s masterful direction and ability to create grand, compelling narratives have made him a formidable name not just in Indian cinema but globally. Also joining Rajamouli in the Director’s branch is independent filmmaker Rima Das, widely known for her critically acclaimed and award-winning works such as “Tora’s Husband” and “Village Rockstars.”

Producer Ritesh Sidhwani, known for backing popular and critically lauded films like “Gully Boy” and “Dil Chahta Hai,” has been invited to join the Producers branch. Sidhwani’s influence in the industry is marked by his knack for producing content that not only performs well at the box office but also gains critical acclaim, pushing the boundaries of commercial Indian cinema.

Renowned cinematographer Ravi Varman, whose impressive portfolio includes films like “Japan,” “Ponniyin Selvan: Part Two,” “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela,” and the highly anticipated “Indian 2,” has been added to the Cinematographers branch.

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. Varman’s unique visual style and profound impact on the aesthetic quality of Indian films have solidified his reputation as a top-tier director of photography.

Rama Rajamouli, the costume designer for “RRR” and wife of SS Rajamouli, has been invited to join the Costume Designers branch. Her meticulous and historically accurate costume designs have profoundly contributed to the authenticity and visual appeal of the films she has worked on. Sheetal Sharma, another eminent costume designer known for her work on movies such as “Gangubai Kathiawadi” and “Kesari,” will join Rama Rajamouli in the Costume Designers branch.

Prominent choreographer Prem Rakshith, acclaimed for choreographing the intricate and energetic dance moves in the Oscar-winning song “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR,” has been invited to the Production and Technology branch. His innovative choreography has brought a new dimension to Indian cinematic dance, blending traditional and contemporary styles.

Documentary filmmaker Hemal Trivedi, known for impactful works like “Among the Believers” and “Saving Face,” joins the Documentary branch. Trivedi’s documentaries often tackle complex and socially relevant issues, bringing them to the wider audience through compelling storytelling and meticulous research.

“We are thrilled to welcome this year’s class of new members to the Academy. These remarkably talented artists and professionals from around the world have made a significant impact on our filmmaking community,” said Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang in a joint statement.

From the Indian film industry, other prominent members of the Academy include A R Rahman, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Suriya, Vidya Balan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Ali Fazal, Aditya Chopra, Guneet Monga, Reema Kagti, Ekta Kapoor, and Shobha Kapoor. Their inclusion in this prestigious institution serves to highlight the growing global footprint of Indian cinema and its contribution to the art of filmmaking.

The Academy’s initiative to ensure diversity and representation underscores the importance of a varied and inclusive perspective in the world of cinema. This year’s class of new members from India not only brings a wealth of talent and experience but also paves the way for a more inclusive and dynamic global film community.