• Saturday, December 09, 2023

Vidhu Vinod Chopra says he didn’t have money, passport to attend Oscars in 1979

He then went to Delhi to meet the then-Information and Broadcast Minister LK Advani.

Indian film director, producer, screenwriter Vidhu Vinod Chopra attends the screening of his Indian Hindi-language film ’12th Fail’ in Mumbai on October 26, 2023. (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL / AFP) (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Mohnish Singh

Filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who was nominated for an Academy Award in 1979, for his 1978 documentary short, An Encounter with Faces, said in a recent interview that he had no money to attend the prestigious awards ceremony in the US.

He also revealed that he did not have a passport and a visa.

“I was nominated at the Oscars in 1979. I excitedly told my father about it. He also got happy and hugged me. Then he asked me, ‘How much money will you get?’ I told him this was not about money. So, he asked, ‘Then why are you happy?’” Chopra said.

He then went to Delhi to meet the then-Information and Broadcast Minister LK Advani.

“When I was nominated for the Oscar, I didn’t have a ticket, a passport, or a visa. So, I couldn’t go for it. I went to Delhi and met Advani ji. He gave me an Air India ticket and a $20 per day expenditure. He couldn’t get me a visa, but he got me a passport in a couple of days for six months without police verification,” the filmmaker added.

Recalling the hurdles he faced in getting a US visa, Chopra said, “I reached Mumbai on Saturday for the visa, and Oscars were on Monday. I was shouting at the security guard there and he was talking in English. He was like, ‘No, no, you come Monday’. I said, ‘What are you doing here? Who are you?’ I was shouting at the top of my voice. So, an American, a decent-looking man, lean, and dressed in a white shirt, stepped out and asked me what happened. I told him, ‘Sir, Monday, there is the Oscars.”

“Can you prove it?” the man asked, as Chopra showed him the newspaper clippings to prove that he was not lying.

Despite being an off day, the ‘gentleman’ invited Chopra inside, and after an hour or so, he gave him a single-entry visa for three months. “So, with that Visa and Advani ji’s ticket, I attended the Oscars,” Chopra said.

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