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.
The nominees were announced on Tuesday by actor Terrence Howard.
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. Also Read: Oscars 2017: Dev Patel creates history; becomes the third actor of Indian origin to be nominated – check out the full list here
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. To that extent I want to share this incredible feeling with Luke, Grieg, Jenny Kent, Lain, Angie, Emile, Sunny, Nicole, David, Rooney, Divian, Priyanka, the Brierley family as well as the Weinstein Co team,” said the actor.
“‘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.
The drama, which also stars Nicole Kidman, will release in India on February 24.