Live blogging the 2009 Oscars: Rahman wins!

1453 PT: Welcome to my first live blog. I have somehow landed at an Oscar watch party today (those unfamiliar with Bollywood will be getting some recommendations for real Bollywood films from yours truly, that's for sure). I've set up my make-believe workstation (okay, it's really just a laptop, but I can sound fancy :P) right by the largest TV set in the house, and shall be adding my thoughts through the day. Let me go grab something to eat first. They're performing A.R. Rahman's Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire (2008) on E! as I write this. Rahman's the only reason I'd write anything about the awards show.

1501 PT: By the way, coverage of the Oscars starts at 1700 PT/2000 ET on ABC. E! has live ongoing coverage from the red carpet.

1540 PT: I must say, this one's particularly bittersweet as a Bollywood fan. The only Bollywood movie that had a shot at an Award -- India's official entry for the Best Foreign Film category, Taare Zameen Par (2007), was snubbed. Slumdog Millionaire is obviously *not* a Bollywood movie. These words aren't mine alone. Director Danny Boyle was pretty clear in his statements. Sample this from a NY Times piece: Mr. Boyle, for his part, does not think he has made an Indian movie. “No, no, no, it’s not a Bollywood film. It’s a good story. It’s a narrative.”

Really, Danny? Really? For all the trash talk Bollywood receives for some of its escapist cinema, is it not ironic that the media darling today is none other than a film involving a slum dweller in Mumbai, a chai wala, speaking English in a quasi-British accent and answering questions involving Shakespeare? Perhaps Taare Zameen Par was too real, too thought-provoking, for the Oscars? Such a double standard. Tsk-tsk. Of course, if he wins, we might hear a very different Boyle tonight. Diplomacy in the mass media, and that's okay, it's part of showbiz.

Here's what bugs me some more. From a Times of India interview with Oscar jury member Krishna Shah: "The main thing is that Indian films are not world class. Oscars jury thinks differently and Indian filmmakers also think differently before making a film. And the second thing is that there no one has the time to watch an entire 4 to 5 minutes long song sequence." No wonder our better than world class Hindi films have only been nominated thrice in 81 years! (Those would be Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay (1988), and the greatest film ever made, Lagaan (2001).)

1545 PT: Tanay Chheda and the kids on E! These kids are smart. And cute, and adorable. For them alone, I might root for the film. Truth is, they made it tick. No? Tanay Chheda, you might recall, also starred in Taare Zameen Par. Also saw glimpses of Irrfan Khan and Anil Kapoor. Oh, they're talking to them now! Irrfan says it's in "the style of the film," that it's "the Hindi film elements Danny has used very intelligently. It's a masala movie, and there's so much going with it." Oh, wait. I thought Danny said this wasn't Bollywood? A sum of all parts? Anil Kapoor is "really overwhelmed". Anil is HYPED, man. "Fantastic," he says, "it's not three, it's TEN!"

1550 PT: Now talking to Dev Patel and Freida Pinto. Anil Kapoor says, "India we love you, and the Indian film industry!"

1552 PT: It would be nice if Freida talked like a lady. She sounds so...naive. Besides, kuch kuch nahin hota hai yaaron. Someone call Katrina Kaif here!

1553 PT: Must say, Anil's representing. Good stuff! Which leads me to why I'm live blogging today. I'm usually the last to talk of Awards. And this movie in particular is hardly the ideal channel in my opinion, but living in Southern California, I know it's made my job pitching Bollywood to non-Indians easier. Besides, at least the people at work now know I'm not a nut for having framed Lagaan memorabilia in my office ;)

1558 PT: Danny Boyle was speaking. A. R. RAHMAN and a lady in a salwar kameez in the backdrop! Someone speak to him, dammit!

1600 PT: One hour away.

1603 PT: Hema Malini's reactions on the film and the Oscars. Agreed! And here's a cool picture (from here):

1613 PT: A. R. Rahman has three nominations tonight. For music (score), music (song, "Jai Ho"), and Music (song, "O Saaya"). I agree with his stance, as Indian Express notes.

1620 PT: Here's the complete list of nominations. Among those I'd like to see win are Penelope Cruz and Kate Winslet.

1650 PT: See 1545 update above for accompanying sighting. Here are the kids from about an hour ago, from this Times of India gallery.

(Front left to right): Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Rubina Ali, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar; (Back left): Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar and Tanay Hemant Chheda.

1710 PT: There's this really good shot of the cast. Dev Patel talks sense when proclaiming the kids "the real stars". He can do a lot better than Freida, take it from a guy. =)

1720 PT: Unrelated thoughts. My 'gorgeous women' awards go to: Penelope Cruz, Kate Winslet (okay, I'm biased), Amy Adams and Anne Hathaway. More to follow, surely.

1731 PT: Disappointed at no discussion with A. R. Rahman. They spoke to the music director for Wall-E. I'm wondering if they even realized the humble Rahman's who he is! He's with some beautiful and beautifully dressed lady, I'm guessing his wife :) Hugh Jackman the host is on. Here we go.

1734 PT: "Just a humble slumdog, sitting in a chair...I'm only here so I can phone a friend. The Slumdog Millionaire just needs some Milk." We'll hear about this bit with the milk, in the Indian papers by someone. LOVE the Frost/Nixon bit. Anne Hathaway! Dare I say...haaye Allah! No, that's property of Juhi Chawla, of course. :)

1741 PT: A shout-out to Kramer vs Kramer for Meryl Streep, means a shout-out's in order for its Bollywood remake, Akele Hum Akele Tum (1995).

1753 PT: Rahman's featuring in the Oscar trophy pose (well, close enough, just the hands out of position any way). From the TOI link in the 1650 update.

1801 PT: +1 for Slumdog Millionaire (SM) and Simon Beaufoy, for the Best Adapted Screenplay Award. Vikas Swaroop's the author of the book.

1833 PT: +2 and 2 for 2 for SM. Anthony Dod Mantle for Best Cinematography. Expected.

1840 PT: Still no signs of A. R. Rahman. Either they haven't done their research, or they don't care.

1845 PT: Random thought... The Love Guru (2008) won big at the Razzies last night. I wonder if Partner (2007) starring Salman Khan and Govinda would have done better here. :o)

1853 PT: Someone tell the ethnocentric Krishna Shah (see 1540 update) that musicals are alive and well at the Oscars :P

1917 PT: Best Documentary Short Film goes to Megan Mylan for Smile Pinki! From here: Pinki, a girl in rural India whose cleft lip has made her a social outcast, has a chance for a new life when she meets a dedicated social worker. The theme is evident, folks.

1925 PT: Will Smith reiterates what I've always been saying. "Action movies don't always get the respect they deserve." That's a cool way to describe the response in some segments to Ghajini (2008)! Oh, wait, it was the highest grossing film of all time, it would be unfair to complain. :)

1929 PT: Best Sound Editing does not go to Slumdog. Sound mixing nominees being announced. Resul Pookutty from A. R. Rahman's team wins!!! Rasul dedicates the Award to his country. No thanks to Rahman? More on him here.

1935 PT: It's 4 of 5 now for SM. Chris Dickens wins for Best Editing.

1944 PT: It's great to see Jerry Lewis! A well-deserved award for his humanitarian efforts. Quite the gentleman, too.

1953 PT: Time for Best Original Score. GO RAHMAN! And the winner is...YES, it's him!!!! The crowd goes wild. There is a God! :)

1954 PT: Mere Paas Maa Hai (I have mom), he says (it's from Deewaar (1975)), thanks his mother. Gulzar, Blaze. God is great! (Added later, picture source: Times of India.)

1956 PT: Oh, Rahman's singing! Woo hoo! O Saaya! Lovely choreography. For some reason, I just had a weird flashback to a dancer in Michael Jackson's Black or White. And Jai Ho!

2000 PT: Best Original Song goes to: A. R. Rahman and Gulzar for Jai Ho! Awwrrright! The essence of the film, which is the power of hope in our lives. The two choices are hate and love, and he chose love, he says.

2005 PT: For Best Foreign Language film...let out the boo birds. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.



Once more.


You suck!

Aside: I'll have a Taare Zameen Par update soon, I promise.

*Sorry, I know I'm not in a sports arena, but you get the point.*

2020 PT: 7 of 8 for SM. Danny Boyle wins for Best Editor. A shout-out to Tigger from Winnie the Pooh? *Yawn* Oh well, Tigger is my favorite character from the series any way. Yeth, iths true.

2030 PT: Pray tell me it's Kate Winslet. And it is! It is ABOUT time.

2047 PT: One of Ashutosh Gowariker's favorites Steven Spielberg is on. Tom Hanks rules!

2052 PT: Best Picture (what a formality) about to be announced...goes to...

2054 PT: SM!!! The kids are on stage!!! A. R. Rahman, Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor, and Azharuddin Mohammad in the front row. This is quite extraordinary. Warner Brothers, eat your heart out! Someone let Anil speak!

2058 PT: Okay, so hardly any surprises here. 8 Oscars in all for SM. Historic? Absolutely. Was it well-deserved? You tell me.

2102 PT: I'm off to an after party for a bit. I'll end with this: A. R. Rahman and his greatness do not mean any more to me tonight than they did about 15 years ago with their Bollywood debut with Rangeela (1994). Yet, it's about time a Lagaaniite held an Oscar in his hand! Peace!

0730 PT (2/23): Note to self (like one of them Ghajini notes on my desk) -- partying until late on Sunday night is not the recommended approach. Gee, I thought I'd learned that my Freshman year in college, but I guess not. Some links this morning:


Anonymous said...

Cool going TBF. I'll follow!

theBollywoodFan said...

Welcome, Anonymous.

Bhargav Saikia said...

Hey! I'm watching the Oscars too now! I'm posting the results live on my blog :) So far so good!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hey there Bhargav! It's been interesting. An okay show. They could learn a thing or two from Bollywood's entertainment values. I'm kind of bored. Honest :) Never thought I'd ever say this, but I'd much rather watch SRK host. ROTFL.

Whatever the case, I'll be celebrating when Rahman wins. The rest, I'm not too excited about (it's not a Bollywood film after all, the best film made in India wasn't given its due, and I hardly trust the Academy with credibility, just as I don't trust Filmfare with credibility, but that's just me), although Anil Kapoor and the kids make me want to root for them!

dunkdaft said...

Yeah..I was waiting for Resul to say 'thanks a LOT to Rahman'
I am waiting for Rahman's live performance.....

theBollywoodFan said...

Agreed on Resul. Is Rahman performing? I thought he wouldn't.

dunkdaft said...

Oh, I have heard that he is performing with Sukhvinder, but later I haven't heard much [as I was not following news lines about Oscars] Please confirm if you have any info.

Nicki said...

I'm watching too! I'm so happy for AR Rahman! Yah!!! I'm on Twitter updating, lol

Nicki said...

I forgot to mention...why aren't they pronouncing his name right? It's not ROCKman, it's RAHman...

dunkdaft said...

Wow....see I told you na??
Superb you Rahman,,,, love you for making us proud....for making putting India on World's stage !!

Bhargav Saikia said...

Brilliant win for Rahman!

theBollywoodFan said...

Darshit: Sukhwinder wasn't able to make it. That's what I'd heard too. But they performed, and how cool it was! Rahman's awesome. See, a Lagaaniite won! ;)

Nicki: I'll head over to Twitter soon. They were trying to get the Arabic pronunciation of 'Rahman' right (it's an Arabic word), and didn't!

dunkdaft said...

I was thinking of Lagaan at the moment, Rahman was giving speech. Made my eyes got wet. I remember how I cried when Lagaan couldn't made it. But this was the moment, that washed it off.

theBollywoodFan said...

Indeed, Bhargav. There are few who deserve it as much. Whenever excellence is recognized, it's a good thing.

theBollywoodFan said...

I don't think anything will ever make up for Lagaan being denied. Having said that, I tell you, I've talked some people who used to laugh at musicals, into seeing Lagaan. They're asking me for more recommendations!

dunkdaft said...

I am running between Study room to TV room to keep up with your post...Great Going...Thanks

theBollywoodFan said...

Thanks for following along! You all have added much to it.

dunkdaft said...

I agree with you now. This is like a pain reliever injection rather than removing pain.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

U and me on Tigger dude- spell it now "Tee AI double gu Err. Tigger"

Nicki said...

Just found out that AR Rahman's name is pronounced that way in South India...guess that's what I get for watching too many Bollywood movies. :D

theBollywoodFan said...

Darshit: Exactly!

Shweta: We so agree! On not entirely unrelated note, I think the cat family and I just get along. My favorite breakfast cereal has Tony the Tiger as its mascot! It's grrrreat :)

Oh, Nicki: Thanks for that info. You are much more aware of other regional cinema from India. Bollywood rocks!

dunkdaft said...

An above average show. But got exciting only because of SM.

theBollywoodFan said...

Agreed. I was saying above, I actually found bits of it quite boring. Still, the Rahmaniac in me found it worth the while!

Anonymous said...

I stayed up for the show just to see A. R.. I have yet to be able to pronouce his name correctly. I give Alicia Keyes credit for the attempt since her heart was in it. Was she close? Normally I wouldn't even watch the show. Fantastic that he won, and like you said your job as a Bollywood pusher no non Indians just got a lot easier.

Pitu said...

Aww, I missed your live blogging :_( but I totally agree with your views as we've discussed back and forth in our emails lol. Also totally agree on your observation regarding Smile Pinki :-p (No, I will not. Yall need to wake up and smell the garam masala, Academy Shmacademy). Anywho, Congrats to Rahman, you rock. And joining you in the BOOING to the Foreign category.

Pitu said...

Oh and I lurve Kate,Sean and Penelope. Rly thrilled nasty Brangelina didn't win. Team Aniston! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, that was great, tBF! I was there with you. Maybe it'll all be on TV tonight. But I loved your live coverage, even though it is 11.30 am Monday morning while I'm reading it.

I can understand you feel a certain bitterness, and I do too even though I'm not Indian. I thought SM was a really good film, but where would it have been without that freaky plot? The narrative was mainly what it was about. Whereas, the plot of TZP could have been written on the back of a bus ticket. But it was a much better film. In every way. (So why is the goddam dvd still not in the shops? I refuse to watch a pirated version but I'm running out of patience now!)

As for the music, well WOW! (I only saw Slumdog for the first time on Saturday afternoon, by the way.)The music blew me away. That man can write anything, ANYTHING. He's a genius! While the end credits were running the rest of the cinema audience had left but I insisted on sitting it out till the last bar, as I always do. No, actually, I was standing. And a row of cleaners at the back were waiting for me to leave so they could start work. But I refused to walk out while the music was still playing. It would have been direspectful to the maestro!

I hope we get to see some coverage on TV here soon. But in the meantime, your live blog was the first coverage of it that I have read. Now I'm off to to see what they have to say. I hope I won't find any more dreadful Boylisms like the one you quoted at 1540 PT!

Pitu said...

Also now that SM mania is ovah, can Miss Pinto pls go hide under whatever rock she used to live under? *Sigh*

theBollywoodFan said...

Sita-ji: I liked the attempt at the pronunciation, really did. Attempts at attention to detail are always nice. And these were pretty close. It would be unfair to expect even an average Indian to get the Arabic pronunciation right, though

like you said your job as a Bollywood pusher to non Indians just got a lot easier.

There's hardly any question about it. People voluntarily asking for Hindi film recommendations is nice! It's working in the opposite direction for once. At least that's the the reaction here in L.A.; Bollywood is most definitely better equipped today than it was a few months ago, to benefit financially from it in the long term. Whether they avail the opportunity remains to be seen.

In the mean time, I'm going to have to contend with mention of SM every time I tell someone I'm from Bombay. Oh well.

Pitu: I was thinking of our discussion. Several from among my group of friends who are not Indian and have not seen Taare Zameen Par, have expressed their surprise at how little they'd heard of it, in the wake of SM, especially. I wonder if the reaction to TZP here would have been different if it were a non-SM year. I doubt it, although there was absolutely *NO* way TZP and SM would have won the same year any way. And I only mean well for people, but for all the crap Freida Pinto's talked of Bollywood, I wouldn't be surprised if she found herself knocking on Bollywood's door a couple years from now. Success brings out the best in some people (how classy and cool was Rahman?), quite the opposite in others.

Joss: Thanks! TZP was effective where it aimed to be effective. Aamir in particular is known to not care much for awards, and I'm comfortable with that stance. There's word on the TZP DVD release (but don't know much about the UK version), shall be sharing that soon. Some of Slumdog's music is quite powerful, I can imagine it must only serve to enhance the narrative. LOL at the waiting through the end credits comment, I'm usually like that too when it comes to Rahman!

You probably won't find too many Boylisms elsewhere (I can't forget such things once I've read them). This NY Times piece is from around the time of the release, and it speaks volumes of a director's confidence (or lack thereof) in the term 'Bollywood' that he feels the need to distance his product from it, to pull in the crowds. It certainly worked initially, which is all it seemed to need!

theBollywoodFan said...

I'm hardly a style expert, but I did comment on Freida above. Here's interesting commentary on her wardrobe. Maybe it's why I was missing Kats?

notofthisworld said...

I missed most of the Oscars, so really enjoyed reading your post:)
You're a Kate Winslet fan, too? I just love her, really want to see more of her work!

NidaMarie said...

Oops, that above comment was from me! That was my brother's Google account;)

theBollywoodFan said...

Glad you enjoyed reading! Yes, Kate Winslet! Not a 'fan' fan, if you know what I mean, but a fan. I think she's a fine actress. More later, and say hi to Chris! :)