Oscars come home to rapturous Indian welcome (Second Lead)

February 26th, 2009 - 6:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Slumdog MillionaireMumbai/Chennai, Feb 26 (IANS) They arrived in hundreds to toast India’s newest heroes. Fans, well-wishers, mediapersons thronged the Chennai and Mumbai airports to welcome Oscar winners A.R. Rahman, Resul Pookutty as well as Irrfan Khan and the child stars of “Slumdog Millionaire” when they returned from Los Angeles early Thursday.
Swamped by ecstatic people, they soaked in their newfound popularity and celebrity status with composure and yet seemed moved by the outpouring of love.

When Pookutty, who was the third Indian to win the golden statuette after Satyajit Ray in 1992, stepped out, a cheering crowd offered him a bottle of champagne which he opened to a huge round of applause. Music maestro Rahman won India its fourth and fifth Oscars with British filmmaker Danny Boyle’s fairytale journey of an Indian slum boy.

Pookutty, who won for sound mixing, was overwhelmed by his reception.

“I never expected something like this. This is history being made,” Pookutty, who was escorted out by security personnel to his vehicle, told media persons at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. So much so that he had to be taken home in a police van!

Irrfan, who plays a key role in the film, said: “Your reaction is greater than the Oscar.”

Irrfan’s wife Sutapa Sikdar added: “It will definitely be a huge moment. Even my son, who is just four, is excited.”

The child stars - Rubina, 9, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, 8, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10 - were beaming and walked out with arms around each other’s shoulders.

As Azharuddin and Rubina stepped out of the airport, the family members of both kids hugged them with tears of joy at their achievement.

The slumdwellers of Garib Nagar - where the two children live - had hired a bus to go to the airport to receive them, said Yakub Sheikh, a neighbour of the two children’s families.

India’s double Oscar winner Rahman too landed home to a hero’s welcome with ace drummer Sivamani and his troupe belting out fast rhythms, dancers doing their bit and a crowd of thousands chanting “Jai Ho” as they waited for a glimpse of the man at the Anna International Air Terminal in Chennai

Rahman too was overwhelmed by the grand reception.

“I am completely overwhelmed, touched, with the kind of reception I got… it is great to be back,” Rahman said late Wednesday after returning from Los Angeles, where he bagged two golden statuettes for “Slumdog Millionaire” for best original score and best original song for “Jai Ho”.

He dedicated his awards to the younger generation. The awards, Rahman hoped, would change a fans’ approach towards Indian music and his career.

“It’s a starting point in my career and will indeed make a difference in fans’ approach towards good music,” he said.

As fans congregated outside his home in the southwestern suburb of Kodambakkam, Rahman was keen to ensure that neighbours were not disturbed in the dead of night.

“Thank you for coming, but I will not disturb you so early. We will meet again. Remember we are in the early hours. I’m tired after a long journey, have to work in the morning and my children have to go to school,” Rahman told applauding fans.

While Sivamani’s troupe performed, a little away was another team from Kerala playing traditional music to herald the return of the hero.

Commenting on his win, Rahman said: “When I won the second Oscar, I wanted to give a bigger message. We have a choice for love and hate for everything whether religion, caste, language - it is to choose love over hate whether in music or the philosophy of life.

“All the actors and directors in Hollywood loved the statement. Michael Jackson liked it too. It is not the highest point in my career, but it is a starting point of making a lot of difference.

“I hope my award inspires others as well,” said Rahman.

“Slumdog Millionaire” won the big ticket Oscars for best picture and best director at the 81st annual Academy Awards as well as for six others, including two for Indian music composer Rahman, who won for best original score and best original song for the exuberant ‘Jai Ho’ with lyricist 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.

-Indo-Asian News Service


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