Mokashi film was selected by the Film Federation

A regional-language pic about the making of India’s first film is the country’s entry in the foreign-language film Oscar race.

The Marathi-lingo “Harishchandrachi Factory,” directed by Paresh Mokashi, was selected by the Film Federation of India, the body that votes on the country’s Oscar entries, over the weekend.

Pic centers on how the father of Indian cinema, Dada Saheb Phalke, traveled to London to learn how to make what would become 1913’s “Raja Harishchandra,” about a king in Hindu mythology.

“Those days when Phalke started making his movie, acting in theater or cinema was a taboo,” exec producer Srirang Godbole told wire service Press Trust of India. “To make things comfortable for those involved in the project, Phalke advised members of his unit to tell people that they were working in the factory of one ‘Harishchandra.’ ”

“Harishchandrachi Factory,” a low-budget pic that had a limited release in December, was chosen unanimously from a pool of 12 films, according to committee chair Asha Parekh.

These included Bollywood’s “Fashion,” “Dev D.,” “Delhi 6″ and “New York” and “Kaminey”; plus Malayalam-language “Pazhassi Raja” and another Marathi film, “Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy.”

It’s only the second Marathi film that India has sent to the Oscars after “Shwaas” in 2004.

Mokashi is planning a wider nationwide release for October, to coincide with the Diwali holiday, a prime moviegoing period. The Mumbai-based tyro director has mostly worked in legit in the past two decades, but this first film won him the debutant director award from a few Indian orgs.

While Hindi-language cinema is the dominant force, there is a strong regional film industry in India. And this year Bollywood struggled in the first two quarters with several flops and a dispute between distribs and exhibs that shut off new releases for nearly two months.

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