Chaitanya Tamhane's The Disciple has bagged the prestigious FIPRESCI award at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.
The film, which looks at the world of classical musicians on the fringes of success, had its premiere at the Biennale last week, receiving glowing reviews from the critics.
The award, presented by the The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI, short for Federation Internationale de la Presse CInematographique), aims to promote and develop film culture as well as safeguard professional interests.
The organisation, which was formed in Brussels, Belgium in 1930, has professional film critics and film journalists from around the world as its members.
"I want to thank the FIPRESCI and its jury members from the bottom of my heart for their continued support for our work. This is a very special honour for us given that the jury for this award comprises of film critics and journalists from around the world. We are all quite thrilled and excited with this fantastic start to the journey of 'The Disciple'," Tamhane said in a statement.
The last Indian film to be awarded the FIPRESCI Award at the annual film gala was Mathilukal, directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan in 1990.
Producer Vivek Gomber said, "It's an incredible honour to be the first Indian film after thirty years to win this prestigious award at Venice. FIPRESCI's faith in our work has been a great source of encouragement over the years."
The Marathi-language film is the first Indian movie in 20 years to be chosen for the main competition of a European film festival (Cannes, Venice, Berlin) after Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding in Venice in 2001.
It is about Sharad Nerulkar (Aditya Modak), an Indian classical vocalist trying to achieve purity in his work as he has been raised on the stories of his father and guru about the masters of the past.
The Disciple is Tamhane's follow-up to his debut feature Court which was screened in the Orizzonti (Horizons) category at Venice in 2016.
Four-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuoron is serving as executive producer on the movie.
The 77th Venice Film Festival, which concludes on Saturday with the announcement of main awards' winners, is the first major international film event to take place physically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.