Sharmila, Deepa Mehta in Academy's new class of members

Legendary Indian actress Sharmila Tagore, “Slumdog Millionaire” star Freida Pinto and director Deepa Mehta are among the Indian-origin film personalities, who have been invited by the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be its members.

This is a significant effort to boost diversity following the controversy earlier this year when no actors of colour were nominated for the Oscars.

The Academy extended membership invitations to 683 distinguished filmmakers, artists and executives representing “the best in our global film community and who have made a lasting impact on movie fans everywhere.”

The new members are among the largest and most diverse class in the Academy’s 89-year history.

“This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today. We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in the announcement.

Apart from Sharmila and Pinto, British filmmaker of Indian-origin Asif Kapadia, who won the best documentary feature at this year’s Academy Awards for his work on jazz singer Amy Winehouse, also features in this year’s class of new members.

Deepa Mehta is known for her direction of movies such as “Midnight’s Children” and “Water”.

The Academy said the class of 2016 includes 283 international members hailing from 59 countries, and 46 per cent of this year’s 683 invitees are women, and 41 per cent are minorities.

(Agency)