This Slumdog is Millionaire – and it has made creative millionaires out of three highly-gifted Indians.
Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire scooped up eight awards out of ten nominations, three of them coming to India’s own A R Rahman, Resul Pookutty and Gulzar, at the 81st Academy Awards on Sunday
night, as other high-profile films fell by the wayside in the “Jai Ho” tornado.
Slumdog Millionaire, made by the iconic new-age British director with an Indian setting and a majority Indian cast and crew, could have won a maximum of nine Oscars out of the ten nominations – since Rahman could have won only one of the two nominations in the Best Song category – as Brad Pitt-starrer “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” with 13 nominations fell virtually by the wayside.
The only Oscar that “Slumdog..” missed out was the Best Sound Editing Award, which went to “The Dark Knight”.
Rahman, Pookutty and Gulzar, with their wins, ended India’s Oscar drought through a virtual torrent. Each Indian nominated won this time, joining the lonely figure of Bhanu Athaiya, who had till now been the only Indian winner of a competitive Oscar, that she had won for best costume design in 1982 for Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi.
Rahman’s Best Background Score and Best Song (for “Jai Ho”, jointly with Gulzar who wrote the lyrics) and Pookutty’s Best Sound Mixing (jointly with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke) Oscars added to the other five wins – Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing – making it a glorious win for Boyle’s film.
The icing in India’s Oscar cake came in the form of the Best Short Documentary Oscar to Smile Pinki, again directed by a foreigner director, Megan Mylan, but like “Slumdog..”, with an Indian backdrop. Among the films it overtook to win the statuette was “The Final Inch”, another documentary set in India but made by a foreigner.
The team spirit that made this film possible was apparent as producer Christian Colson invited everyone present from the cast & crew – including little Azharuddin and Rubina, who played the youngest Jamal and Latika, Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto, who played the grown-up protagonists, Anil Kapur, Irrfan Khan and Boyle – up on stage to be with him while he accepted the Best Film Oscar.
But for those back home, the focus clearly was Rahman, Pookutty and Gulzar, who unfortunately, had to miss the ceremony because of a shoulder injury. Rahman, who accepted his two awards separated by an ensemble performance of his two nominated songs “Jai Ho” and “O Saya” and the the third nominated song “Down to Earth” from Wall-E, made a philosophical acceptance speech.
“I just want to thank again the whole crew of Slumdog Millionaire, especially Danny Boyle, for giving such a great opportunity. And the whole, all the people from Mumbai. The essence of the film which is about optimism and the power of hope in the lives, and all my life I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I’m here. God bless,” he said, adding in between in Tamil, “Ella pughalum iraivanuke (Glory be upon God).”
He started his speech by saying, “Before coming (here), I was excited and terrified. The last time I felt like that was during my marriage. There’s a dialogue from a Hindi film called ‘Mere paas ma hai’, which means ‘I have my mother with me’. So my mother’s here, her blessings are there with me.”
Pookutty won hearts as he aptly described the importance of his field of specialisation and dedicated his award to his motherland.
“This is unbelievable. We cannot believe this… I share the stage with two magicians (Tapp and Pryke), you know, who created the very ordinary sounds of Bombay, the cacophony of Bombay, into a soul-stirring, artful resonance called Slumdog Millionaire.”Om. So I dedicate this award to my country. Thank you, Academy, this is not just a sound award, this is history being handed over to me,” he said.
”I come from a country and a civilization that given the universal word. That word is preceded by silence, followed by more silence. That word is
Boyle and Colson also paid their tributes to the spirit of Mumbai, which they said made possible their film. “Finally, just to say to Mumbai, ‘Unending, inseparable, unborn.’ All of you who’ve helped us make the film and all of you of those of you who didn’t, thank you so much. You dwarf even this guy (gesturing to the statuette). Thank you very much indeed.”
Colson said, “And we had a shared love for the extraordinary city of Mumbai, where we made the movie. Most of all, we had passion and we had belief, and our film shows that if you have those two things, truly anything is possible.”