“I have to say this—Riz Ahmed, tonight, became the ninth South Asian ever to win an Academy Award. I became the 10th tonight, two South Asians won an Academy Award,” said Oscar-winner Joseph Patel.

In the press room at the 2022 Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27, Patel took advantage of being in front of international media to make his point. He, along with Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein had just won the Best Documentary (Feature) Oscar for the Harlem-based story “Summer of Soul (…Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised).” A short while before, Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia won the Best Short Film (Live Action) Oscar for “The Long Goodbye.”

Two—no, wait—three South Asians WON at the 2022 Oscars. In one night. Let this sink in properly. It’s been a long road indeed but the time for us South Asians to take our place on the entertainment mainstage, I feel, is truly and absolutely here.

Per Hollywood Reporter, a pre-Oscar celebration hosted by UTA and Priyanka Chopra, Mindy Kaling, Kumail Nanjiani, Bela Bajaria, Anjula Acharia, honoring all the nominated South Asian films at the 94th Oscars (six in total)—a historical moment in itself—affirmed that South Asian Hollywood was officially announced to Hollywood and the rest of the international entertainment community. Calling the event “South Asian Excellence” (the official hashtag), it toasted the nominees of these outstanding films that told stories from the Indian sub-continent and the diaspora—authentically—by South Asians.

As an immigrant from India, living in the U.S. for the last 14 years, I have a first-person experience of the kind of opportunities Hollywood was giving to brown South Asians in front and behind the camera. I had to find ways to make things work and mold my self-initiated ventures as viable and relevant in Hollywood. The South Asian immigrant community globally are extremely industrious and we contribute tremendously to our local communities. We are a part of these communities and our stories are also important which need to be seen, and heard.

Riz Ahmed hit home this truth in the winner’s press room backstage at the 94th Oscars, when I asked him, “How important is it to you, personally, to tell these immigrant stories?” He said, “I think it’s important to tell all kinds of stories—stories about joy, suffering, and about all types of people. In a time when migrants, refugees, and immigrants are being dehumanized, I think it’s really important to tell stories that change that. What we’ve tried to do with our own film [“The Long Goodbye”] is, yes, show the challenges and the dangers, but also to celebrate the joy, and the community of the immigrant family at the heart of this story.”

And so, with the historic Oscar wins of these brilliantly talented South Asians at the 2022 Oscars, for the first time I can sense a new united front in filmed entertainment: South Asian Hollywood.

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2 Comments

  1. It’s great to see representation from this talented group of South Asians. Hopefully this trend continues where we get to see stories from across the globe. Excellent job everyone! Congrats!

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