Namaste, India. From Slumdog Millionaire to Life of Pi, India has morphed into cinematic imagination as a place where miracles intersect with the mundane and stretch the limit of human possibilities.
This year, the Academy Awards/Oscars carried a distinct Indian stamp with a Delhi teenager playing a key role in “Life of Pi”, a story of survival and incandescent hope amid impossible odds. The film won the best director’s trophy for Ang Lee, who charmed Indians back home with his Namaste, while accepting the prized statuette. Another shot-in-India movie “Zero Dark Thirty”, on the execution of terrorist Osama Bin Laden, got an Oscar for sound editing.
Suraj, a 19-year-old boy, made his acting debut with “Life of Pi” based on Canadian author Yann Martel’s Booker Prize winning novel. His director frantically looked around for him from the stage, after receiving the award, prompting the debutant actor to wave at him amid all the glitter and pizzazz in Los Angeles.
While Lee paid his tribute to the Indian spirit by thanking his crew from the country and also rounded off stage appearance with a traditional “Namaste” – the Indian style of greeting people with folded hands, the Indian associates of director Kathryn Bigelow, who shot a substantial part of his film “Zero Dark Thirty” in sets built in Chandigarh, went about distributing ‘ladoos’, a traditional Indian sweet, to celebrate the success. Darshan Aulakh, who acted as the ISI chief in “Zero Dark Thirty”, distributed sweets in Chandigarh and said he was “very happy” that the film had bagged the award. The film shared the sound editing award with “Skyfall”.
“Lincoln”, a historical drama about the last few months of the iconic US President Abraham Lincoln who abolished slavery, also has an India connection as it has been co-produced by an Indian business house.
“Life of Pi” won four out of its 11 nominations at the 85th Academy Awards. The film won trophies for best cinematography (Claudio Miranda), best music – original score (Mychael Danna), and best visual effects (Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott).
Ang Lee’s ‘Namaste’ should be treasured by those who cherish such priceless moments that bring them home the greatness of India. The greeting sparked an orgy of celebration in that virtual country called tweetdom.
Tweeted actor-producer R. Madhavan: “Namaste at the Oscars… About time… Love you Mr. Lee. Congrats Suraj, Irrfan and Tabu. You more than deserve it.” Actor Anupam Kher was ecstatic: “Congratulations to the entire team of Life Of Pi and to the Genius called Ang Lee. Proud to have worked with him (in Conquest, Lust?).” Film director Sangeeth Sivan rhapsodised: “Namaste! You made us proud too. Take a bow sir!
The best director’s award for Lee was his second Oscar after 2005 “Brokeback Mountain”. Indian vocalist Bombay Jayashri failed to make it to the award distribution stage as she lost in the best original song category. She lost to Adele, who took home the golden statuette for “Skyfall”. The British singer also performed at the gala ceremony.
The best actor trophy went to Daniel Day-Lewis for portraying Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln”, which won a total of two awards out of its 12 nominations. The other gong was for production design. Day-Lewis is the only actor to win three best actor Oscars for “My Left Foot”, “There Will Be Blood” and now “Lincoln”.
Jennifer Lawrence won the best actress trophy for her work in “Silver Linings Playbook”. US First Lady Michelle Obama declared “Argo” as the best film. The thriller is based on a joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six American diplomatic personnel during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, the film also got the trophy for best editing and best adapted screenplay.