It felt like a total Indian evening,” AR Rahman says of the night that saw him becoming India’s first double Oscar winner for his score in Slumdog Millionaire.
Despite Slumdog sweeping every major award on its way to the Oscars, Rahman says he “actually had no expectations at all” and was “completely engrossed and concentrating on the performance” on the stage. “There had been speculation here that we would not receive the award as the [film’s] music is very Indian,” he says. When he did win, it took a while for the facts to sink in. “When I got the first award, I was quite numb. On receiving the second, I realised the impact.”
Rahman’s biggest strengths were sitting in the audience — his mother Kareema Begum and his wife Saira Banu, the quiet but strong woman behind her very successful husband. Even at the Oscars, she kept a low profile. She wore a lovely black kurta-churidar by Sabyasachi Mukherjee and carried a Judith Leiber clutch.
The composer, who said choosing love over hate had got him this far, felt the affection all the way through the night. “The love and response that we have received has been immense,” he says. “I loved the way the [Slumdog] kids came and we all started crying in the end.”
Despite the overwhelming triumph, Rahman says he never composes with an eye on awards. “I don’t like to make music with any expectation,” he states, “because that leads to corruption.”