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Sunday, February 22, 2009

oscars: all eyes on a r rahman tonight...

From EcoTimes

By the time you read this on Monday, in all probability you will already know whether A R Rahman and Slumdog Millionaire made the cut at the
Oscars or not.

The stage is set for Rahman to bring the gold statuette to India and become only the third Indian to receive an Oscar, the others being Bhanu Athaiya and Satyajit Ray. Athaiya won an academy award in the best costume design category for the 1982 film Gandhi and Ray was awarded an academy honorary award for his contribution to world cinema in 1992.

While the debate on whether Slumdog is an Indian film or not continues to rage on, India’s hopes are pinned on Rahman, Gulzar and Resul Pookutty. Gulzar is nominated alongside Rahman in the best song category for Jai Ho and Resul Pookutty is nominated in the sound editing category for the rag to riches story.

Ten and three are the numbers to remember, the first being the number of nominations that Slumdog Millionaire has garnered and the second being the number of nominations categories in which Rahman, is nominated. With Rahman already bagging a Golden Globe and a BAFTA in addition to numerous critics’ awards, the expectations are high.

Two Indian-themed documentaries are also up for the Oscars this year. The Final Inch by American documentary makers Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant is about health workers travelling throughout Uttar Pradesh, urging parents to vaccinate their children against polio.

The second, Smile Pinki made by American filmmaker Megan Mylan is a heart-warming tale of a poor village girl called Pinki whose cleft lip made her a social outcast until she meets a social worker who changes her life.

Without doubt, all of India will be glued to TV sets to watch this year’s Oscars. From those in high-rises, to those in slums, millions of bleary eyed Indians will join the excited and anxious Slumdog team. The Indian buzz at Oscars hasn’t been so loud since 2002 when Lagaan was in the running for the best foreign language film.

Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957) and Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay (1988) which were India’s official entries to the Oscars made it to the nominations in the same category but no Indian film has gone all the way. Deepa Mehta’s Water was Canada’s official entry for the foreign language category in 2006 but again it only made it to the nominations.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra also did the country proud when his documentary An Encounter with Faces was nominated in the documentary short subject category in 1979.

It has been 17 years since the highest honour in films was bestowed upon an Indian. The golden statuette has evaded Indians time and again but this is the year when India’s history at the Oscars could be re-written. Godspeed Rahman!