Shabana Azmi, SS Rajamouli among 487 new Academy members

The Academy's new members reflect a commitment to diversity, representation, and inclusion.
Director SS Rajamouli.
Director SS Rajamouli.

NEW DELHI: 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 late Tuesday night, the Academy announced that the list includes artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Membership selection is based on professional qualifications, with an ongoing commitment to representation, inclusion, and equity, according to the Los Angeles-based institution.

Azmi, a stalwart in both Indian and international cinema, has been invited to join the Actors branch. The news comes as Azmi completes 50 years in the industry; she made her groundbreaking debut in Shyam Benegal's "Ankur" (1974). Known for films such as "Godmother," "Arth," "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," "In Custody," and most recently "Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani," the multiple award-winning actor has starred in over 140 Hindi films and 12 international productions.

Rajamouli, the man behind the epic period spectacle "RRR," which became the first Indian feature production to win an Academy Award in 2023, has been included in the Directors branch. Independent filmmaker Rima Das, known for acclaimed and awarded titles such as "Tora's Husband" and "Village Rockstars," is also joining Rajamouli in this segment.

Renowned producer Sidhwani, who has backed celebrated movies such as "Gully Boy" and "Dil Chahta Hai," will be part of the Producers branch. Director of Photography Varman has been invited to join the Cinematographers branch. His credits include "Japan," "Ponniyin Selvan: Part Two," "Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela," and Shankar's upcoming "Indian 2."

Rama Rajamouli, "RRR" costume designer and wife of Rajamouli, has been invited to the Costume Designers branch. Joining her is Sheetal Sharma, known for her work on movies such as "Gangubai Kathiawadi" and "Kesari." Part of the Production and Technology branch is choreographer Prem Rakshith, who created the complex but perfectly synthesized moves in the best original song Oscar winner "Naatu Naatu" from "RRR."

Documentary filmmaker Hemal Trivedi ("Among the Believers," "Saving Face") is part of the Documentary branch.

"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," Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang said in a joint statement.

From the Indian film industry, 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 are already members of the Academy.

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