It was a night that gave Mumbai — and India — a lot to celebrate.
On Thursday, just 15 km from the slums of Dharavi where it was set, Slumdog Millionaire won 10 Oscar nominations.
Four went to Indians.
AR Rahman was nominated for three Oscars in his first-ever showing at the Academy Awards — for best score and for two songs, Jai Ho and Ringa Ringa.
Mumbaiite Resul Pookutty was nominated for his first ever Oscar for the sound design.
It was a first-time Oscar nomination for British director Danny Boyle too. Boyle is up for best director.
The exhilarating backdrop —from the brothels of Grant Road to Dhobi Ghat to the skyscrapers — helped the flick get a nomination for Best Picture.
To boot, the award-winning film set in Mumbai was based on a novel by Indian writer Vikas Swarup’s Q and A.
And there was more to celebrate. The rags-to-riches tale that offered hope to those born into poverty became a dream come true in real life too.
Two of the child actors — Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail — who had, until they were cast, been living in makeshift homes in a Bandra slum, not attending school, were on Thursday night dressed in the finest clothes, their faces beaming as they clasped the Golden Globe Awards the film had already won.
The children now go to school and the directors and financiers of the film have set up a fund to take care of their long-term welfare and education.
Boyle (52) looked elated as he spoke to the media ahead of the premier at Imax in Wadala. Dressed in black tie, surrounded by the cast and crew, he said: “This is an unbelievable result, particularly three nominations for A.R. Rahman. I have a debt of gratitude to this city for how much it opened up its arms to us during the filming.”
He then went on to praise the talent of the actors from Mumbai.
“Filming here opened up my eyes to the breadth of talent here. Ninety-nine per cent of the reason why we have this kind of recognition is because of the actors,” he added.
At 9 pm the crème de la creme of Mumbai began arriving in glitzy cars and walked down the red carpet under the glare of the world’s media, to the sound of a dhol under a golden arch saying Fox Star Studios.
The 81st Academy Awards will be announced in Hollywood on February 22.