New Delhi parties at dawn after historic 'Slumdog' wins


Scenes of people dancing and firecrackers bursting in the early-morning sunshine outside A.R. Rahman's home in the South Indian city of Chennai flashed across the nation's news networks today, minutes after the composer collected his second Oscar for best picture winner "Slumdog Millionaire."

Rahman won statuettes for best score and best song, the latter following his rousing performance of winner "Jai Ho."

Rahman's excited family members even shouted "Jai Ho!" as they joined in the celebration. Similarly, newscasts showed scenes of jubilation among children in the slums of Mumbai, some of whom were featured in the film.

"This is a historic moment and living testament to the fact that Hollywood and Bollywood can come together," said Vijay Singh, CEO of "Slumdog's" Indian distributor Fox Star Studios. "It's an amazing showcase for Indian talent, and to see all the kids and cast and crew of the film onstage was incredible. This film has set the blueprint for the future."

Because "Slumdog" is still playing in Indian theaters, Singh said its eight Oscar wins will "definitely be a big boost to strengthen its successful run." In a marketing move timed to capitalize on the Oscar fever, the film was offered exclusively on pay-per-view for the past three days via News Corp.'s Direct to Home joint venture Tata Sky.

India's other Oscar hero was winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty, who was praised by Bollywood star Aamir Khan in a live TV interview for "showing that Indian talent can go global." Pookutty was a sound engineer on Khan's latest hit, "Ghajini," and the actor shared how Pookutty's "attention to detail was extraordinary."

Although the Oscars were telecast live on News Corp.'s English-language channel Star Movies, all news channels provided minute-by-minute updates beginning at 6 a.m., with live input from Bollywood personalities.

Given Rahman's iconic stature in the Indian industry, expectations were high that at least one of his three nominations would translate into an Oscar.

The media frenzy began during the weekend with Sunday newspapers devoting massive coverage to India's arrival on the Oscar stage. TV networks went a step further: New Delhi Television, for instance, roped in "Slumdog" actor and veteran Bollywood star Anil Kapoor to host a special "Road to the Oscars" feature that has aired during the past couple of weeks and followed his experiences on a U.S. promotional tour.

The Oscars will be broadcast again tonight in primetime on Star Movies.

As for a "Slumdog" homecoming party, Singh said: "We would love to plan an event, for sure. Right now, the feeling is still sinking in." (partialdiff)