Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stray Afterthoughts on India at the Oscars.

I was waiting for the euphoria to die down somewhat.

It feels great. We always knew that AR Rahman was a rare genius. I love music but have little or no knowledge of its science. But one doesn’t have to be a music academic to know that AR Rahman is the rarest of gems. I can never forget the first the first time I heard Chinna China Asai in Tamil. I was checking university papers. The song stunned me into inaction, suspended all my senses except that of hearing. It was nothing like I’d ever heard before. The novelty of it – the sounds and their management, the sound of water?, a brook tripping over stones? all captured in a harmony that I was sure would suspend the motions of the stars. Such was the total effect. It was incredible. Listening to Chinna Chinna Asai for the first time was an experience - of a sensation coursing through my blood; it was not just an act of listening to a composition. It was like being part of a hitherto unheard harmony of strange sounds descending from another galaxy. When Ar Rahman tamilised Beethoven in Thiruda Thiruda, I was bewildered, dazed, and ecstatic. The space between systems of music seems to collapsed totally.

Now, of course, the novelty has worn off.

However, we didn’t need an Oscar to tell us what AR Rahman’s place was in the world of music. But we are happy that he got this recognition.

But it took an Oscar and other international awards for Pookutty to make us realize that the ‘technicians’ are/have to be artists par excellence, that there is a high degree of aesthetics involved in the role of these technicians. I remember, more than twenty years ago, my very intelligent niece Anita was very vociferous on this issue. Strange, it took a quarter of a century and an Oscar to make me realise how truly she had spoken.

Both the Oscar award winners carried themselves with extreme dignity and confidence at the function and after.

But our own dear Anil Kapoor. What on earth got into him! On several occasions he made us go red- eared! But what took the cake was his excited declaration ('Guess who came on the stage after the best movie was announced?' Anil Kapoor -) that Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel came to the stage to congratulate the Slum Dog team, that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt came to his house(?), “they didn’t know who I was, they didn’t even know I'm an actor - - –“!!!??? He was incoherent with excitement.

Oh, he embarrassed us, to say the least. Why doesn’t he realize that the adulation of millions of his countrymen is a greater recognition than a few Hollywood stars shaking hands with him?

And so back to my pet theme. When will we recover from this colonial hangover?


  1. Isn't this obsession about Oscars also a colonial hangover?

  2. Just an observation - I guess, title of this post should be "Stray afterthoughts on India at the Oscars."

    I hope you don't mind pointing this out. You can delete this comment; no need to approve. :-)

  3. "The space btw systems of music collapsing completely"- I like that one!

    I could remember my mother humming only 2 songs all my life.. One was "En veettu thottathil" and the other "Ennavale"..Rahman music has pushed the limits of innovation and broke all barriers of language and culture.

    I'd like to comment on your previous article on Pookutty as well, interesting to see two Indian muslims taking the top honours.. Wonder when the likes of Modi, Thackare and co will come to their senses..

  4. yeah..i got really irritated with Anil Kapoor's behaviour during the Oscars...I would have expected him to be mature considering he is a senior actor and allow the people who deserved the limelight to enjoy it!!

  5. @bindhu unny
    thanks. have removed the space(dunno how it crept in) between after and thoughts.

  6. anil kapoor is an embarassment,and very public one,i must say.he acts like an upstart.and he was doing no acting in the movie..he was being his pretentious snooty self!
    chinna chinna asai is still mndblowing!and i love the very earthy..
    En veettu thottathil and ennavale are just enchanting...his earlier body of work is more appeling for sure.but what i dig about ARR is his humility.genius with humility is almost impossible to find.

  7. world is swiftly shifting towards a relationship in which we have to forget our past and build a new relationship which is betterment of the world as a whole..


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