Following Manchus comment here, I couldn’t help but pen down my thoughts on the ceremony yesterday. It was probably the first time I have paid the Academy Awards this much attention. There are snatches from previous ceremonies like when Halle Berry won that are etched in my mind. For some strange reason I even remember the detail on the dress she was wearing then.
So, yesterday I settled in front of the TV around 5:30 PM my time till about 11:30 or so when it was all over. Yes. It was predictable. Yes. I was somewhat embarrassed by the pink choli wearing dancers performing to the music from Wall-E in between O Saya and Jai Ho. It felt garish and out of place for me. Like GreatBong explains here so well, I did not think the movie was Oscar worthy.
Yet, amongst all this, I cheered each time I saw a brown face in the crowd. I was excited to see the whole crew of Slumdog walk the red carpet. I felt deeply offended by Ryan Seacrest holding up a slip of paper with the names of the kids’ on them. I used to feel a mild dislike for him till yesterday. Now I positively hate him. I felt it was insensitive, snobbish and utterly unprofessional.
Every time I took a break, I would tell Amma to call me if it was Resul or Rahman’s nomination being announced. In spite of that I did miss Resul’s acceptance speech because K chose that moment to call me. But I got to see every bit of ARR’s presence at the Oscars and it felt wonderful. For someone who grew up listening to his music I remember how much of a path breaking thing it was when Roja released. My favorite metaphor for something growing on me over time is ARR’s music. It has that kind of an impact. So watching him give a shout out to his mom or Mumbai thrilled me. I was hoping he would say something in Tamil and I had goosebumps when he was done.
Am I upset because people are calling Slumdog poverty porn? No. Am I troubled that we are celebrating what is in essence a win for a Britisher made movie starring a British born actor? No.
To me all that matters is that ARR was recognized on a global platform. The fact that Resul got an Oscar is amazing for the shadow industry that keeps the movie industry functioning. The kids who acted in the movie have a great story to tell decades from now. To me they were what made Slumdog worth watching. Their spontaneity. The movie captured the vibrancy of desi street life for me. So, whether the movie was made to play to Oscar ‘sterotypes’ or peddles the not-so-glossy part of India Shining is moot.
Perhaps it was written.