The spirit of bonhomie at the Jaipur Literature Festival turned into celebratory cheer Thursday evening after the announcement that the movie Slumdog Millionaire, based on career diplomat-author Vikas Swarup's novel "Q and A", had bagged 10 Oscar nominations.
Though the author, who was present at the festival Wednesday, had left for Mumbai for the premiere of the movie Friday, lyricist Gulzar, who has penned the lyrics for Jai ho that has been nominated for best original song for the 81st Annual Academy Awards, became the hero of the evening.
The posse of writers, publishers and the large contingent of representatives from the publishing industry across the world erupted into cheer and uncorked bottles of champagne as a spokesperson announced the nominations on stage.
"It is a historic moment for me. This is my first international recognition. I am so happy for both composer A.R. Rehman, who has won three nominations and Vikas," the beaming lyricist, clad in spotless white, told the media post-dinner.
Gulzar, a close friend of the director-general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Pavan Varma, arrived in Jaipur Wednesday to attend a special session on poetry with Varma.
"My daughter and her husband rang me from Mumbai in the evening to convey the news. It feels wonderful. But I am especially happy that A.R. Rehman has won three nominations. He is the best thing that has happened to contemporary Indian music - his arrival has changed the music scene forever," Gulzar told the media.
According to him, "there were many more people who were behind his nomination". "For instance, the director of the movie Danny Boyle - without him the nominations would have been impossible. Certain compositions gelled so well with the shots," he said.
The lyricist met writer Vikas Swarup Wednesday. "We were discussing it. I did not expect a nomination for myself, but I had pinned my hopes on Rehman. He is very dear to me and has made the country proud," he said.
When quizzed about the protests against the movie in Mumbai, Gulzar said he did not want to be drawn into a controversy. "Why do you want to talk about negative things. Let us celebrate the positive development. It is the biggest honour for the country's entertainment industry," he said.
The mood was infectious. Almost everyone - right from the representatives of ICCR to the CEO of Penguin, which hosted the official dinner, director Muzaffar Ali, who anchored the Coexist Concert for Peace in tribute to the terror attacks in Mumbai and Gaza, the musicians and writers from Pakistan, the posse of authors from Europe and India and the cream of the glitterati from Delhi and Jaipur - was unanimous in their verdict: India could not have been more proud that it was Thursday evening. "It feels great," echoed all cutting across divide.
As for writer Vikas Swarup, it was luck all the way. "I have always been a lucky author," he told IANS.