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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

'The Lunchbox' director Ritesh Batra apologizes to Film Federation of India over "CORRUPT" comments

'The Lunchbox' director Ritesh Batra has apologized to the Film Federation of India (FFI) for describing the organization as "corrupt" for not choosing his film to send to the Academy Awards 2014.

In a letter to the FFI Batra said his intention was to participate in the "vigorous debate" following the Federation's decision to choose the Gujarati-language film 'The Good Road' - directed by Gyan Correa - over Batra's equally acclaimed film. 

“If an apology is what you demand, you have it. Both you and the jury have my wholehearted apology. There was no intent to hurt anyone, but rather to participate in the vigorous debate that this decision ignited in the public domain", Batra said.

“Sir, please use your good offices to give us a transparent, objective process with a public and not a secret jury. It is a direct and humble request, not a criticism.”

His statement comes after the Federation, which chooses India’s entry for the Oscar's each year, expressed its "umbrage" at how Batra had gone about "demeaning a film chosen by an eminent jury" and demanded an “unconditional apology”

Soon after the FFI chose Gyan Correa’s film, Batra and 'The Lunchox' producers Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar and Bosnian filmmaker Danis Tanovic took to Twitter to express their dismay at the Federation overlooking what they called India's "best chance" in decades of making it to the five-strong Best Foreign Film shortlist.

'The Lunchbox' had won the Cannes Critics Week Award and received widespread praise when it was screened at the Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals with several US industry publications rating it an Oscar hopeful.

Kashyap and Batra also said that “The Lunchbox” had a better shot at an Oscar for India, considering the buzz around the movie, the fact that Academy members have seen it, and its backing by Sony Pictures, which bought U.S. distribution rights to the film. “The Good Road,” they said, was by comparison a little-known film that even mainstream critics in India haven’t seen, and which got a limited release even in its home state of Gujarat.

- Poonam Joshi

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