“Before coming, I was excited and terrified” – A R Rahman

Saturday February 21- before the D-day. It’s to some extent challenging doing a special story on the OSCAR NIGHT 2009 and yet feels special. Why? Well, you have to keep up at 6.30am India time and get glued in front of your television to watch your favourite Hollywood celebrities grace the glamorous red carpet and walk the world famous aisle to get seated inside the esteemed Kodak Theatre where the fortunate few will be bestowed with the golden statuette. What makes it special though is the fact that for the first time in the history of the Oscars, more Indians than ever before will be walking the much talked about walkway with their heads held high, cheering, supporting and leading their Slumdog Millionaire team to victory, and believe us, Bollywood and Bollywood Hungama is buzzing with excitement and anxiously waiting for A.R.Rahman and Resul Pookutty to win their first ever Academy Award. Back in the West, Hollywood was busy with preparations for the big night where hundreds of people have been working for all week to lay the red carpet, assemble the tents and decorate the pathway that’ll be filled with photographers, journalists and celebrities on the high-status Hollywood Boulevard.

The Knight called Oscar – So before the coveted golden figure is given away to the deserving few, let us brief you a bit about this Oscar statuette, officially called – The Academy Award of Merit. The most recognized trophy in the world, the Oscar statuette has stood on the mantels of the greatest filmmakers in history since 1929. Shortly after the formation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927, the fledgling organization held a dinner in the Crystal Ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to set out its goals. Among the topics discussed that night was how best to honor outstanding moviemaking achievements and thereby encourage excellence in all facets of motion picture production. Agreeing to institute an annual award, the group turned its attention to creating a suitably majestic trophy. MGM art director Cedric Gibbons designed a statuette of a knight standing on a reel of film gripping a crusader’s sword. The Academy tapped Los Angeles sculptor George Stanley to realize the design in three dimensions – and the world-renowned statuette was born. Since the initial awards banquet on May 16, 1929, in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Blossom Room, 2,701 statuettes have been presented. Oscar stands 13½ inches tall and weighs in at a robust 8½ pounds. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers The Glitz, the Glamour and the Golden show – The Night we’ve all been waiting for ended in flamboyant fashion. India wakes up today to celebrate the super success of the two Indians who’ve made us swollen with pride. It’s time to rejoice the achievements of the entire Slumdog Millionaire team….especially A.R. Rahman who is the first Indian to win two Oscars and Resul Pookutty to have won one. Wow! And all the other great filmmakers who’ve shown us some of the best films which the 2008 brought to the big screen.

The stage was so close to the flawless audiences that all the nominees could actually get their hands on the golden statuette. The who’s who of Tinsel town graced the red carpet just like they did at the BAFTA’s. Nothing special, apart from Angelina Jolie bending the rules and wearing black, and hey… here come grinning Dev Patel and demure Freida Pinto, who appears to have shown up without her “secret husband”, which is a shame. Notebooks out: Pinto confesses that her dress is by John Galliano. Anil Kapoor in his Armani black, A.R Rahman and Resul Pookutty in their Indian black and all the small, petite and cute actors who played the young Jamal and Salim graced the red draped in black. Inside the Kodak Theatre, Slumdog Millionaire was the undisputed winner with 8 Oscar trophies….and boy they gave their acceptance speeches with pure gusto, emotion and joy. Resul Pookutty came up on the star studded stage where he was bestowed with his first Oscar Award for Sound Mixing when he said, “This is unbelievable. We can’t believe this. Ladies and gentlemen… sorry… I share the stage with two magicians, you know, who created the very ordinary sounds of Bombay, the cacophony of Bombay, into a soul-stirring, artful resonance called SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.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 “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. My sincere and deepest gratitude to my teachers, Danny Boyle, Christian Colson, Paul Ritchie, Pravesh… and everybody who has contributed to this film, Glenn Freemantle and all the sound mixers. I dedicate this to you guys. Thank you, Academy. Thank you very much.” The next one followed when A.R. Rahman came up on the stage but not before he performed in front of the live Oscar audience on his songs, ‘O Saya’ and ‘Jai Ho’ receiving a standing ovation from the front benchers like Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke and Angelina Jolie. His name was announced, walked up on to the stage, accepted his first Oscar for the Best Original Score and said, “Before coming, 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 nothing but I have a mother,” so mother’s here, her blessings are there with me. I am grateful for her to have come all the way. And I want to thank the Academy for being so kind, all the jury members. I want to thank Sam Schwartz, I/D PR, all the crew of Slumdog, Mr. Gulzar, Raqueeb Alam, Blaaze, my musicians in Chennai and Mumbai. And I want to tell something in Tamil, which says, which I normally say after every award which is… “God is great.” Thank you”. The music maestro walked up on stage again for his second Oscar for The Best Original Song ‘Jai Ho’ which he received and made him the only celebrity at the 81st Academy Awards to win two Oscars.
In his acceptance speech, the shy musician said, “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”. And then what…..Danny Boyle came up on stage bouncing and jumping with gratitude accepting his award as The Best Director for Slumdog Millionaire where he personally thanked the choreographer of Slumdog Millionaire, “There’s one guy I should mention, we’ve mentioned a lot of people. I forgot a guy. The guy who choreographed the dance at the end of the film. He’s called Longiness. And I forgot him off the credits. And I only found out about it two weeks ago. I’m an idiot and I apologize from the bottom of my heart, Longiness. Thank you so much. 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” and producer Christian Colson accepting the last award of the grand night for The Best Picture. But the picture perfect moment was captured by one and all when the entire team of Slumdog came up on the Oscar podium, smiled, laughed and enjoyed the super success of their super film – Slumdog Millionaire

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