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When Hollywood met Bollywood

india Updated: Feb 24, 2009 01:08 IST
Naomi Canton
Naomi Canton
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The game’s over, and grand prize won, but the gents who took home Oscar knights for Slumdog Millionaire see it as the start of something bigger.

“The film has made it (Indian music) very acceptable and started a trend,” AR Rahman said after winning two awards for best original score and best song. “If we go forward and make more things that are acceptable to the American audience, it will be a great experience.”

“Tonight we have witnessed in an extraordinary way Hollywood and Bollywood — two great movie industries- reaching out to each other,” Danny Boyle, who won the award for best director, said. “It has been an absolutely extraordinary night, especially with A R Rahman picking up two awards.”

They were speaking to journalists gathered at the Mumbai studio of Fox Star, which is distributing the film in India, through a conference call from Los Angeles.

Resul Pookutty, who picked up the third Oscar to come India’s way this year, said it was “a historic moment for Indian cinema”.

These sentiments were reflected in statements by dignitaries from the Prime Minister down, and in celebrations across the country. Manmohan Singh called it “a tribute to the Indian film industry.” In Vilakkupara, a village in Kerala that didn’t have electricity until a few years ago, firecrackers greeted the announcement that village lad Pookutty had won the award whose name many had not heard until now.

There were similar statements in Britain too. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown congratulated the Slumdog team, and said, “Britain is showing it has the talent to lead the world. I think we should be very proud of what are great British successes."

The film is an Indo-British collaboration, with a British director, producer and screenwriter, an Indian cast and a mixed crew. Both India and the UK have claimed it for their own.

The only people who haven’t quite latched on to Slumdog yet are the residents of Dharavi, the slum in Mumbai where the film is set. A board in Dharavi greeted visitors with the following statement in Hindi: “We are not slumdogs.”