Thursday, February 19, 2009

AR Rahman: On his way to a Double Oscar?

Will he win both the Oscars? There is a very good chance he will. If he does, he would be emulating Howard Shore. In 2003, Howard Shore won 2 Oscars, one for the Best original score and the other for Best Original Song for the movies 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'. As the Oscar weekend arrives, interest is understandable high in India for the nominations of AR Rahman, Gulzar and Rasool Pookutty. Especially AR Rahman -'The Mozart of Madras' as the TIME magazine called him, has a very good chance of achieving what Pandit Ravi Shankar couldn't in 1982 for 'Gandhi'. Pt.Ravi Shankar was then nominated for Best Original Score.

He is expected to at least win the Oscar for 'Best Original Score' hands down. In fact, he has an unfair advantage with 'Slumdog Millionaire', which is shaped on the lines of a Mumbai-made Hindi film, where the music is as important as the imagery and the narrative. “We wanted it edgy, upfront. Danny [Boyle, who directed] wanted it loud,” says Rahman about the score. So his soundtrack occupies the central space and propels 'Slumdog..' with its zing and grandeur. Music in Other Hollywood nominations, obviously, do not serve that kind of impact. It is difficult to imagine how 'Slumdog..' would have shaped without that kind of score. He won the Oscar for the score at every major film festival in past few weeks, including the Golden Globe, BAFTA and the Critics Choice Awards in LA.

Now this brings us to his Double nominations in the Song category for the songs 'O Saya..' and 'Jai Ho..'. The other sole nomination is from “Down to Earth” from 'WALL-E'. Rahman, in addition to the 2 nominations, has an advantage here too. The Academy has always shown a tendency of shying away from awarding tracks relegated to a film’s closing credits. They believe these kind of songs are mainly tools to market the movie and the movie wouldn't suffer without the song. In other words, the academy looks not just at the merit of a tune but also how vital the tune is within the narrative of the movie. The Peter Gabriel's song from 'WALL-E' plays over the closing credits. So Rahman is undeniably the favourite and my favourite is 'O Saya..' which amidst all slum poverty brings out the joie de vivre of Jamal and Salim in 'Slumdog..'. However, it is also to be noted that the WALL-E song won the Grammy last week. But then 'Slumdog..' was not in fray. The Golden Globe was won by "The Wrestler" by Bruce Springsteen from the movie 'The Wrestler', which to the shock of many of the fans of 'The Boss', is not even nominated for the Oscar. But then, this song too plays over the closing credits.
The nominations show that the Academy is nodding to a world beyond Hollywood. That fits in well when they have a president in White House with Kenyan ancestry. It would be a great thing for Indian music. And considering that 'slumdog..' is not exactly Rahman's best when you think about what he dished out last year in 'Jodha Akbar' or the 'Delhi 6' stuff that's ruling airwaves these days, we can be sure many more young musicians would be ready to work hard and experiment with the many sounds - Western classical, Indian classical, jazz, opera, sufi, folk, African beats, Arabian sounds, reggae, hip-hop, rap, rock, pop, blues etc. Rahman has been fervently doing all this especially the last couple of years.

Indians who won Oscar earlier -
Bhanu Athaiya, shared the Oscar with John Mollo for "Costume Design" (1982) for the film "Gandhi".
Vanita Rangaraju-Ramanan, was credited with an Oscar in the "Technical - Lighting" category for the animation film "Shrek" (2002).
Satyajit Ray, won the Lifetime Achievement Special Oscar (1992).

There could be others of Indian origin in technical crew in Hollywood productions who won an Oscar. Starting this edition, we many not have search on the net for our winners :)


Sandeep Naredla said...

Even Jai Ho Plays on the closing credits only

As far as i know the jury listens to the Original Song nominations separately away from the movie....And Infact Jai Ho is the favorite in this category..

My take is Jai Ho from SlumDog

Raghavendra Keesari said...

first of all, all the best to AR rahman, i am a fan of Rahman, to me its
a suprise, SM,is nominated for Oscar, bcoz, there are many other masterpiece's
done by rahman, to which SM is no were nearer, like (Roja,Rangeela, Jodha Akbar,
Rang de basanti, Latest Delhi6, and list goes on..) anyway i wish him goodluck and
all the best.

hariesh said...

Indeed what a moment to savour for music fans of A R Rahman. For all the years he has enthralled us with his exsquiste music its high time his efforts get recognised. Although not his best work SM, his score and music fits the theme well and connected. So come oscars and sure we have Rahman walking away with the honours.

hariesh said...

Watching the events unfold at Academy Awards this year the one thing that struck me;
Has India come of age this year at Oscars? It was distinctively Indian. Yes, India was live and kicking at the Oscars, or are we just riding on the success wave of SM?

Four Oscar’s awards in different categories borne the stamp of India;
A R Rahman for Best music score, and Best music for song and Resul Pookutty for sound mixing both for SM.
For best documentary, ‘Smile Pinky’, tracing the wobbly period of an outcast six year village-girl named Pinky in UP, India. Directed by Megan Mylan.

A R Rahman has won hands down in both the categories he was nominated. In fact he was clear favorite. Resul pookuty’s brilliant work earned him a deserving award in sound mixing category. These awards ultimately rode on the overall success of the film. And ‘Smile Pinky’ a story of a girl in UP village whose cleft lips leads to social outcast and the undying social taboos that complicate her childhood further. The 39 minute documentary takes through the journey of the little girls’ stigma and her return to normalcy after a corrective surgery. Even a documentary is worth an Oscar - that is, if you get the ingredients right. India, I believe has a story to offer and tell to the world.

SM may just be the perfect recipe to fet the appetite of world audience about India. While many contested the poor light India was portrayed in slums, the theme of rags-to-riches had a universal appeal. The success of SM may spur a new resurgence of cinema in India. Has India finally arrived at the centerstage of world cinema? That is coming to Oscars as far.

SM is a foreign film with Indian presence and innately Indian. What will be interesting is whether an Indian film with similar success would reap awards of a SM at Oscars? Well, we have to wait and watch.