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Vir Sanghvi in the Hindustan Times:
Few things annoy me as much as the claim often advanced by well-meaning but woolly- headed (and usually Punjabi) liberals to the effect that when it comes to India and Pakistan, "We’re all the same people, yaar."
This may have been true once upon a time. Before 1947, Pakistan was part of undivided India and you could claim that Punjabis from West Punjab (what is now Pakistan) were as Indian as, say, Tamils from Madras.
But time has a way of moving on. And while the gap between our Punjabis (from east Punjab which is now the only Punjab left in India) and our Tamils may actually have narrowed, thanks to improved communications, shared popular culture and greater physical mobility, the gap between Indians and Pakistanis has now widened to the extent that we are no longer the same people in any significant sense.
This was brought home to me most clearly by two major events over the last few weeks.
Without taking anything away from his broader point, the "fear of attracting religious prejudice" was not really the reason why Yusuf Khan changed his name to Dilip Kumar (and it was not in the "In the early days of independent India" but at least 3-4 years before that -- and the story is better told in Lord Meghnath Desai's biography)
When asked to name their favourite A.R. Rahman songs, almost every one agrees that Jai Ho, while a good song, is not on their top favourite list. Most people invariably bring up the songs of Roja, Bombay and Dil Se. It was the same among the many people that we spoke to recently, but some of them did name individual songs too. Given the composition of our sample size, perhaps it should not be surprising that a song from his very latest film should get mentioned by the maximum number of people
Frankly, I don’t think Slumdog Millionaire deserved the Oscar for best film. And even more frankly, I don’t think Resul Pookutty should have invoked “my country and my civilisation” in his acceptance speech for best sound mixing. India was not up there in the Kodak auditorium for approval. It was a British film financed by the indie subsidiary of an American studio which happened to be set in India and as a result they could not help but involve Indian actors (including Indian-origin Britishers) and shoot it in India. We crave too much for international recognition. A bit too much than is seemly. Even as all of us go around strutting, pretending to be a superpower.
...and we should really rejoice for the six children who acted in it, for they are the real stars of the film. We should rejoice for AR Rahman, though the music he has got his two Oscars for is not even of his average quality, forget his sublime and exhilarating stuff. But the Academy has decided.
NYT on Rah Rah Rahman:
An Oscar would certainly raise Mr. Rahman’s profile in Hollywood, and commentators in India and in the West have said that recognition for “Slumdog” could help legitimize India’s film talent in general. Only two Indians have received Academy Awards: Bhanu Athaiya won in 1983 for best costume design in “Gandhi,” and the director Satyajit Ray was given a lifetime achievement award shortly before he died in 1992.
But Mr. Rahman said he does not view the awards as a referendum on Bollywood, and indeed wasn’t getting his hopes up about the contests, in which his competitors include Mr. Gabriel, Danny Elfman and James Newton Howard.
He didn’t have an acceptance speech ready, he said, and his days in Los Angeles before the awards were packed with activity, including a performance of “Jai Ho” on “The Tonight Show” [above] on Thursday, meetings with various directors and record labels, and filming the video of a Pussycat Dolls remix of “Jai Ho.”
“I like to work fast,” he said.