Bollywood biggies like Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone are among a record 774 people from 57 countries invited to be a part of the Oscar Academy's 'Class of 2017'. The step is being seen as an attempt to diversify its membership.
According to theguardian.com, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Wednesday that it had invited a record 744 new members to its governing body, surpassing the 683 invitations issued in 2016.
The Academy has been under pressure to diversify its membership for several years, the critcism reaching a crescendo in 2015, when all 20 acting nominees were white, starting the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. The Academy is doing damage control since then.
This year's class, 39 per cent of which comprises women, reflects a 359 per cent jump, from 2015 to 2017, in the number of women invited to join the Academy.
People of colour make up 30 per cent of the 744 added members, a group that includes Barry Jenkins, whose film "Moonlight" won Best Picture this year, Janelle Monáe, who appeared in "Moonlight" and the Oscar-nominated "Hidden Figures", and Jordan Peele, whose film "Get Out" got engulfed in a controversy over British actors in African-American roles, reports theguardian.com.
From India, there are directors like Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Goutam Ghose, actors Irrfan Khan and Salman Khan, Indian costume designer Arjun Bhasin, directors and writers like Anand Patwardhan, Sooni Taraporevala and noted sound designer Amrit Pritam Dutta.
Even India-born Mohit Kallianpur and Mahesh Ramasubramanian, who have worked in animation and visual effects of Hollywood films like "Frozen" and "Shrek" respectively, are part of the exhaustive list.
"It's up to all of us to ensure that new faces and voices are seen and heard, and to take a shot on the next generation the way someone took a shot on each of us," Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, was quoted as saying on the official Oscar website.
According to theguardian.com, Isaacs will be stepping down as President of the Academy next month.
Under her leadership, the Academy pledged to open up its membership, which in 2016 was 92 per cent white and 75 per cent male, to more women and people of colour.
Among other international high-profile actors newly invited to the Academy are "Wonder Woman" star Gal Gadot, "Moonlight" Oscar nominee Naomie Harris, Donald Glover, Chris Hemsworth, Riz Ahmed, Adam Driver, Dwayne Johnson, Leslie Jones, Betty White, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, Margot Robbie, Channing Tatum, Kristen Stewart, Shailene Woodley, Ruth Negga, and Rupert Grint.
The new members invited are part of seven branches -- actors, casting directors, costume designers, designers, documentary, executives and film editors.