Los Angeles, January 25: Indian-origin British actor Dev Patel is feeling an “overwhelming sense of gratitude” for receiving Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar nomination for “Lion” for the 89th Academy Awards, announced here on Tuesday.

He is up against actors like Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) and Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water”) for the trophy, which will be given away at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony here on February 26.

Dev said in a statement: “The news hasn’t made its way into my brain yet, but I’m looking at these beautiful smiling faces around me… faces of the ones I love. And I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.”

“Lion”, based on Saroo Brierley’s best-selling autobiography “A Long Way Home”, is a true story about an Indian boy who falls asleep on a train only to wake up and realise he is miles away from home in a strange land where he does not speak the language.

He experiences many challenges before getting adopted by a couple in Australia. Years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

What makes the moment so much more “poignant” is that he has just wrapped up shooting another film in India.

“This enthralling country holds such a deep place in my heart, and it is where Saroo’s journey was born,” said Dev.

He said “Lion” would be nothing without its director Garth Davis.

“Without his love, commitment and vision ‘Lion’ wouldn’t have been able to roar”, the actor said.

“‘Lion’ reaffirms the message that love is not dictated by the colour of your skin, not by race, gender, sexuality, social status or origin. It is a message I am proud to be spreading during these uncertain times.”

“This will forever be one of the most memorable experiences of my life,” he added.

Dev, who lost the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role award to Aaron Taylor-Johnson at the 74th Golden Globes, said he “would be lying if I say that awards are not amazing. Awards can really change someone’s career.

“But I never took up a project thinking about a golden statue.”

The drama, which also stars Nicole Kidman has also earned a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

The Garth Davis directorial set in India and Australia, features in six categories of the nomination pack, yet falls short of Hollywood romantic musical comedy-drama film “La La Land,” which is nominated across 14 categories — equalling a record previously set by “Titanic” and “All About Eve”.

“Lion” is also being recommended for displaying perfect diversity to avert last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

And while Indian-origin British actor Dev Patel has one nomination for “Lion”, Indian composer A.R. Rahman missed the race to the golden statuette despite two nominations.

Tamil movie “Visaranai”, India’s Oscar entry for the Best Foreign Language Film was out of contention in the initial list itself, but Rahman — who had won two Oscars in 2009 — lost out on his chance at two nominations for his work for “Pele: Birth of a Legend”.

Rahman’s name featured in an initial list of 145 scores in contention for a nomination in the Original Score category.

His acclaimed number from the 2016 biographical film “Ginga” was the second nomination – part of a long list of 91 songs competing for a spot in the final nominations for the Original Song category.

Lion also features for Best Picture honour, Best Original Score award, to be announced in a star-studded ceremony on February 26.

Meanwhile ‘Lion’ has enthralled Melbourne after releasing last week. Perceived as an emotional drama, one critic has advised viewers ‘take hand towels to the theatre’.

The film is based on the real life story of Saroo Brierley, who wrote book about his life in India and his resurrection in Australia.

The film will release in India on February 24.

Mishka Anderson

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