‘Jai Ho’ for India at the Oscars (Roundup)

February 23rd, 2009 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Slumdog MillionaireLos Angeles/Mumbai, Feb 23 (IANS) From the slums of Mumbai to the glamorous world of Los Angeles, the world went “Jai Ho” as India’s sound magicians A.R. Rahman and Resul Pokutty made history along with lyricist Gulzar bagging three Oscars for “Slumdog Millionaire” that won eight of its 10 nominations in a ceremony that had India written all over.
It was India’s day at the Oscars, one of the year’s most watched events on world television, with Indian music, Indian dance and Indian colours sweeping the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

India dominated the mind as British director Danny Boyle’s hit film won the big ticket Oscars for best picture and best director at the 81st annual Academy Awards but also for six others, including two for Rahman, who won for best original score and best original song for the exuberant “Jai Ho” with Gulzar.

While Pookutty shared the award with two others for best sound mixing, the film also won best adapted screenplay, best cinematography and best editing awards.

The only award it did not bag was for sound editing, which went to “The Dark Knight”.

It was an India moment for everyone to savour, and celebrations broke out across the country.

President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a host of others echoed the mood as they congratulated the Oscar winners saying they had made India proud.

As the film, based on a book by Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup and made on a budget of only $13 million, reached the pinnacle of its success Sunday night, it was also a fairytale end to an awards story that some say is as improbable as the film itself about an orphan from a Mumbai slum who goes on to win India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” game show.

Rahman, the fourth Indian to win the golden statuette after Bhanu Athaiya for costume designing in 1982, Satyajit Ray for lifetime achievement in 1992 and Pookutty, who picked up his award before him, also became the first Indian to perform at the glittering ceremony watched worldwide by millions.

Indian drums resounded through the vast Kodak Theatre and dancers picked up on the beat as Rahman sang “O Saya” and “Jai Ho” - his two songs shortlisted for the best original song award notwithstanding the fact that the words were in Hindi.

“God is great!” Rahman exclaimed in Tamil as he picked up the awards, saying he was as excited and terrified before coming here as he was at his marriage.

“It is not an award, but history being handed over to me,” said Pookutty, who shared the Oscar with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke, and dedicated his award to his country.

“I simply feel elated. I can’t put my feelings into words! It is the highest recognition any film technician can ever achieve. To be the first from India to be recognised by my peers in the Academy in its 80-year history is a very, very fulfilling feeling,” Pookutty told IANS.

Added Gulzar from Mumbai: “I never thought in the wildest of my dreams that Indian lyrics can ever win an Oscar. Indians never had a place (in the West) and the credit for this recognition goes to Rahman.”

But the 81st Academy Awards was not just about “Slumdog Millionaire”.

The India-themed “Smile Pinki” by American Megan Mylan, about a poor village girl whose cleft lip made her a social outcast till her life changed after a meeting with a social worker, picked up an Oscar for best short documentary.

The evening climaxed with much of the cast and crew up with producer Christian Colson as he accepted the best picture award.

“As you can see, our film was a collaboration between hundreds of people, and I am so happy that so many of them could be with us here tonight to share this moment. Together we’ve been on an extraordinary, extraordinary journey. When we started out, we had no stars, we had no power or muscle. We didn’t have enough money really to do what we wanted to do. But what we had was a script that has inspired mad love in everyone who read it,” said Colson.

Also up on stage were 10-year-old Azharuddin and nine-year-old Rubina, who played key roles in the movie and travelled from their homes in a Mumbai slum to the star-studded event.

And back home in the Garib Nagar slum, Azharuddin’s father said, his eyes welling up with tears: “Flowers have bloomed from the dirty gutters of Mumbai.”

Rahman’s sister Reihana said from Chennai: “Once he returns, Rahman and I and the rest of the family will go on thanksgiving pilgrimages to several dargahs (Muslim shrines) to express our gratitude to god for blessing us so mercifully and in such magnitude. We hope this means more Hollywood offers for Rahman after this.”

In Pookutty’s home in Vilakupara village of Kerala, the mood was celebratory — and tearful too - as people crowded around a TV set in front of his house.

In Uttar Pradesh, too, little Pinki was the toast of her village Rampur Dabai.

“It’s an honour for all of us that a poor girl has put this village on the international map,” village head Pradeep Vishwakarma told IANS on telephone.

It was a day that will live on, a day when the world went “Jai Ho!

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