Rahman and the Oscars

I am really happy for A R Rahman. He is a musical genius, and deserves everything he has got. In fact I gave him the title “Mozart of Madras” and it caught on. But does the West really get his art and his genius ? I remember getting into an argument with Andrew Lloyd Webber about allowing A R Rahman to explore his own creativity for Bombay Dreams. We had co produced the show and I had introduced Rahman and his music to him.
I asked A R Rahman to score the music for Golden Age, and even then I was allowed only to take him as a co composer. And I watched as the studio rejected the most beautiful compositions from A R Rahman, because they did not get or were not willing to embrace something from another culture. As it happened the score of Golden Age was not half as good as it could have been.
Recently Rahman did the score for my short film that I did for Swarovsky, called Paasage. The one I shot in Argentina. One of the pieces in it is a beautiful song and an aria in French. I ask people to guess where it is from, and they search for all the great composers of the western classical form. And are stunned when I tell them the piece was composed by A R Rahman, sung by an Indian girl from his Music Academy, and produced in his studio in Chennai.
That is the genius of A R Rahman. Then why do we need the West to tell us how great he is ?
And that’s why I don’t understand why this hype of the Oscars for A R Raham in Indian Media (Rah Rah Rahman was the TOI headline).. He is bigger than the Oscars Slumdog is not his best work. His music has been far more evocative than in Slumdog.
We in India have a far greater culture of music. Our depth of understanding of music, its resonance, its culture, be it classical or modern, is far greater than any culture I know. So why don’t I see that the West celebrates when one of their artists becomes popular here in India ? Why don’t we see headlines in the LA times then ?
Why do we admire the West so much. Even in my career I thought that Bandit Queen was a far far better film, a more heartfelt film, and a much more meaningful film than Elizabeth or any of the other films I made in the West. But in India I was suddenly celebrated as a film maker after Elizabeth. I even was awarded a Padma Shree after that film. Why ? Because the film was nominated for 7 Oscars, and Bandit Queen was not.
When will we stop being aspirational towards the West ?

57 Responses to “Rahman and the Oscars”

  1. austere says:

    With due respect, the music for Dil sey (the heart rending title track in particular), Bombay, Bombay dreams(remember that going home song? and Shakalaka- you want fusion?here’s fusion) were way superior. Jai ho was fine, but not the best.
    My humble opinion. But one is thirsty for anything from the genius. Even Chandraleka, without one word of Tamil. 🙂

  2. hari says:

    When we start producing indigenous global quality products in big numbers to let the world know the significance of our culture in the world cultures.
    It weighs upon us to show to the world what is worthy of respect and aspiration in our culture.
    Would the world have survived from the mutual hatred and aggression if there were no Gandhi,no NAM,no exemplefyingly tolerant India,no Indian example of ‘Unity in Diversity’,no Yoga,no vegetarianim,no Ayurveda,no Zero.
    May be Shekhar its time to showcase the best in us than the worst.

  3. ajayprabhu says:

    Hi, Shekhar
    I think its in our subconscious that we feel inferior because from 100 years or so, or since other people have came and started conquering us years back ,then they were more technnologically advance than us and our mindset has started to changed since then that all western people are better than us that feeling did not gone even after getting independence and so much freedom and development in all aspects of life ,we still feel ourselves inferior. Take and explore more and think why untouchables in india still live in inferiority complex because upper caste ruled them so many years that they still feel catching up..I would say and correlate same with Western and Eastern mindset..
    However ,in early civilization we were best but last 1000 years has seen entire eastern belt has loosend its charm and culture because western advancment in technolgy and they ruled us…
    So believeing in ourseleves ….will come soon as now global world is so small that everybody can see,understand the difference….
    Bye shekhar

  4. bhawana says:

    I know..I am so with you here!!
    **When will we stop being aspirational towards the West ?
    I don’t know..I mean its The Question in a lot of sense..
    But like you n I and a Lot of other people are not aspirational to the west, in our own ways..
    I guess this realization and reverence for our own, extremely rich culture has to come from within.
    And there is so much to explore, there will be no time to look at ‘others’ for appreciation.

  5. Good to see something like this coming from a reputed director. We all have had this feeling sometime or the other. Slumdog is not Rahman’s best work by any length of imagination. And yet it is celebrated because its in a movie made by an “insider”. We got to stop celebrating what they think is the best.

  6. Vikash says:

    May be it’s because of the fact that grass is always greener on the other side.. & its evident everywhere.. be it the aspiration of working middle class, Bollywood as a whole … fashion trends .. anything .. for anything cool or good people tend to look west..
    I don’t want to be judgmental here .. but it’s true that despite the treasure of history & wealth of natural beauty here in India .. our films are shot foreign locations and our golden history is hardly depicted in Movies… One brave attempt was Jodha Akbar.. but that was after a really long time.. there was a time when Mughal-e-Azam, Raziya Sultan, Hatimtai, Laila Majnu and many others where portrayed and were appreciated by our people. It would be heartening to see more of our history being portrayed on silver screen & with advances in budget & technology I am sure it will be a treat to watch it 🙂

  7. Abhishek says:

    Thanks you, sir!

  8. SuperPower – May be then.

  9. To the thought that ‘Hari’ stands for,
    There is nothing that we have to showcase to the west. They are not the judges, we do not need them to recognize us. When will we see ‘modern media’ is a western invention. It has been a vehicle of thought for the west for long now. We are slaves our own thought. One which assumes a poor country cousin status to the west.
    Rahman, deserves any and all recognition coming from be it the Oscars or Indian Govt. He stands for the talent, genius and earnesteness that is strongly rooted in Indian ethos. He was as global in sound and appeal with ‘Roja’ as ‘Hans Zimmer’ was with his last best known work ‘ Pirates of Carribean’.
    I cringe at how our media hails western adulation. Imagine this – Media as we know world over will be owned by us, the content drawn and opinions shaped by us Indians. When a ‘Filmfare’ awards will be as aspirational for the west as ‘Oscars’ sheepishly are for many of us. Can you imagine that. Can you see yourself being a global opinion influencer. If not what stops you from doing it right now. What about India shames you?
    Realise that you need to recognise yourself before anyone else.

  10. Aakarsh says:

    Sir,
    Any attempts to release the soundtrack of that shortfilm you did in Argentina? How will we get to enjoy that music?

  11. Brijesh says:

    Dear Shekhar
    Academy never had a chance to nominate ARR, except for Golden age which you rightly said, final mixing was way different than you intended it to be. Why jump for Academy?? I believe it is one of fairer system around, look at out National awards which was the best few years ago until the best actor award went to son of chairman of the film board if I remember correctly. BTW it may not be ARRs best work for SDM, but what is more important is it gels well with the screenplay.

  12. _ram-jaane' says:

    I agree that we as Indians shouldn’t aspire to be getting the nod of approval from the West. I do believe our people know this. It’s the media that dwell on the recognition at the Oscars & thus become talk of the town(s).
    I can understand the media perspective too though. The Oscars may be Western but they’re recognised on a global scale, our Filmfares are far from it & with good reason, as well as the fairness factor, we are quite closed to outsiders.
    I think if we as a unity (the Indian film fraternity) started thinking more at pitching ourselves globally, we’d leave everyone behind & this is what I as a contributor would like to aspire to, at whatever small level that I can.

  13. CBS says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    Accepted that it takes to be awarded in west to be respected in east but the reason is simple, the evaluation criteria in west is “generally” unbiased than it is in east.
    In India do we even care who gets a filmfare or such awards. Its not only the awards also the movies. Many movies which have good storylines are cheated from a english or korean movie. I am not questioning the talent or pottential of Indian film industry but I am questioning what is offered to us in the name of popular demand.
    Here in UK there was a huge popularity for bollywood after release of slumdog, but what the media got from bollywood was Ghajini a copy of Memento and Chandni … which is a utter BS.
    If bollywood want itself to be taken seriously then I guess its high time there are some regulation on copycats and medium to promote originality. The very reason why we all respect Rahman more than a Anu malik or Pritam.
    Cheers,
    CBS

  14. ruchi says:

    i agree, west has no understanding or real appreciation o four music/dance. as indian in usa now a days every one see be as part of slum dog but when i dont go ga ga over movie or direction or acting neither music in this case they dont understand. i recommend them some movies from india to watch and try to develop real taste/appreciation for this form of movie making

  15. Mee says:

    Zany write this one! And you know what, this ‘jay ho’ song’s the one I like least of Rehman’s repertoire
    Some goras to give us the fizz of gulfosh kahin …..
    The mind set’s archaic, worn-out, jaded, waiting to be binned
    Mohenjodaro and Bandit Queen any day for me:)

  16. To ‘CBS’:
    It is easy to get caught in assessing quality from a western standpoint. Yes there is excellent content coming from the west. But when you watch a ‘Shawshank redemption’ why don’t you question, when Tim Robbins comes out of the sewage pipe, a defining moment of liberation, we should have had a great song picturised on that event. Why not? Do you see what I getting at? We are for too enamoured with a western concept of assessing quality and content.We are blind to how are sensibilities are shaped by that influence.
    It would insulting of intelligence of a billion people and more who appreciate a ‘Ghajini’ or a ‘C2CC’ or a ‘Singh is Kingh’. You or I may disgaree with their source and their originality. There are enough people to whom the brilliant idea behind ‘Memento’ would have gone amiss simply because it was a movie they did not know existed and even if they knew , it would not cater to their sensibilities. You could argue the story telling aspect which was unique to Memento was borrowed by ‘Ghajini’, but I will argue Memento borrowed age old Indian movie story of a lover trying to avenge the murder of his loved one.
    Have you overlooked how Rahman has used the rythm arrangement and basic structure of ‘Cholee ke Peechey’ in ‘Ringa ringa’ for Slumdog.
    You need to see Indian awards for what they are. They come from people who are driven at an ? emotional level and hence the choice of awardees,scale and flavour of ceremonies. If you expect to rate and assess them from how they are done in the west (unbiased rationale), they will not fit it. Simply because recognition in India is not for merit alone. You get recongnised for connecting emotionally. We need to recognise our inherent attraction for the emotional over the rational. That is one of our defining cultural traits.
    My question is can the west accept that an idea of quality work that is defined by an Indian or eastern sensibility?

  17. justbe says:

    do re pa so” ma ga re sa”

  18. raj says:

    Again, ask our founding fathers of our Nation. Why did we let Mountbatten stay back in India after Independence? Why we had to depend on him so much that he had to occoupy the post of Governer general of India until 1948 and on the other hand Jinnah refused to accept him as governer..Giving importance to White skin has been inherited from our God fathers of our country.
    We are obsessed with super power nations. Before it was British and now it is USA and am sure when China will lead, we will be obsessed with Chinese..We never lead but just follow..
    Its not the West, we are obsessed with anything which has the label of “best”.
    And yes, Bandit Queen was a fantastic movie but unfortunately not many in India would appreciate that movie, as you did not show phoolan dancing around trees..Other reason is it did not go for Oscars..If it had gone, am sure It would have been a cult movie in the West..and I don’t want to tell you how you would be treated in India..

  19. koizen says:

    Sir,
    A R Rehman is one of the best music composer and director we have and it comes as a surprise that he is nominated for 3 oscars. Personally I do not find anything path-breaking or earth shaking work in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ film. He is far better in other movies which west has not noticed. I will be shocked if he gets an oscar in this particlar film not that he does not deserve it but there are other films he has done far, far better then SM
    In early 90’s there was a wave of beauty queens ruling world beauty contests and now there is’nt. What is happening now? Did west wake up to Indian film culture? Or west (under recession) now needs Indian film audience money? last year many hollywood films were made with Chinese location and a few years back west gave oscar to China…it works as business sense rather then recognition of talent.
    Our Indian mindset too is quizzical…I remember a film magazine right after you made ‘Elizabeth’ they put you as ‘most powerful person’ in Indian cinema and after that it dwindled…now Yash Chopra is powerful…or Shah Rukh…Tomorrow if a new face makes a hit in hollywood film and it becomes either commercial success, they will put that person in most powerful category in Indian Cinema…all this happens not only in movies…lets see Swami Vivekananda…if Swamiji would not have returned after Chicago (my dear sisters and brothers lecture) would people from India and Kolkata respected him? or others like Yogananda…or Gandhiji (after successful stint in South Africa) So is it the Oscars or universal recognition? A hero is not respected in his own homeland…in Hindi something similar is ‘Ghar ki Murgi dal barabar’. But we cannot take the credit from aforesaid personalities including you. It is just that people see the tip of everything weather it is success or failure. As an Indian I still will be happy to see our film fraternity getting recognition in Oscars or Indians winning booker prize or any other subject.
    What is needed is…again your previous posts will they (west) compete for our awards? will I live to see a day in wall street where rupee is equal to Dollar? Will foriegn authors compete for Indian awards?

  20. raj says:

    Sir,
    Also wanted to make a short note
    I recently saw a documentary by Michael Woods called “The story of India”. I was just amazed by the knowledge of this guy about India and its just a shame that a British guy has to tell us what India used to be..
    While we are obsessed by the west, the west is digging the past of India to revive the lost glory ..If u ever get time, please watch it..what really astonishes me if the fact that just 1 lac British soldiers controlled 400 million Indians..

  21. Harb says:

    The fundamental reason we are aspirational towards west is the same the male are aspirational towards female.
    Recall the Chinese Yin/Yang figure half of which is white while the other half is black.
    White half represents the female/body part while black half represents the male/mind part. (In white things are in front as with body while in black things are hidden as in mind.)
    Similarly, west represents the female part on global cultural scale while east represents the male.
    Not that in white or west there are no males or in black or east there are no females but that in the first male are latent or in the background – like night or dark is in the background in day time – and in the later the female are in the background like day is in the background at night.
    (Which is in fact why in the west female usually leads the male while in east it is the opposite.)
    West represetns mind up to intellect while east represents mind beyond intellect comprising intelligence/intuition. In other words west represetns brain or its left hemisphere while east represents right hemisphere of brain.
    We both aspire towards each other, west hidden like females but easterns apparent like males, compelled by the evolutionary force especially when it is time for unification as it is now.
    Harb

  22. CBS says:

    To Deepak Ravindra:
    This is the point where were we generally divert and miss the argument. How can our incompetence or may be general negligince towards originality and creativity (in a creative industry) be justified by blaming the perspective.
    Why are we to justify the reason for Ghajini being copied from Memento. The point is can you ask any body in the world to rank Ghajini against other movies in the world, when you know its a copy. Using your example of ignorance, Just because a billion people have not seen Monalisa does not mean you can make a copy of Monalisa in Grey shade and sell it as yours. A theft is a theft, whether we know about the original or not.
    Today the korean and chinese movies are more respected than Indian for this very reason. They have originality and creativity. Though they have their own style of making a movie.
    Here again it is not a question on Indian talent or pottential but what is served to us claiming popular demand.
    Deepak, Indian awards are not given for creativity and last possible reason is emotional quotient. Everyone knows they are given based on whether you will perform in a award event or not. That is why they have no value hence called biased. Not because Indians dont know how to judge, questioning the Intelligence of billions, its more business not award ceremony.
    Is SM not a movie we all like to view – which has least nonsense (rona dhona), perfect editing and technology and Indian stars? Is this not west recognising the emotional aspect of east? Is this not how we want to view bollywood movies to go forward (may be minus Danny Boyle and more of People like RGV and Shekhar)??
    Cheers,
    CBS

  23. Ajit says:

    I agree that ARR’s best work is not represented by the music of SDM, but keep this mind: Would the music of SDM have been appreciated as much by the West if it was composed in the style of Jodha Akbar or Zubeidaa? ARR himself knows that to reach a Western ear, he has to adapt his music and sound accordingly in order to get his foot in the door. Westerners can be quite closed minded about foreign music, and hence, Rahman needed to create the type of music that would be accessable to that audience. Within this context, having the music of SDM the way it is (techno/electronic, edgy) makes sense.
    As for aspiring towards the West, I too agree that greater ownership and pride of our own products independent of Western judgements need to be a greater part of the Indian mindset, but that will take time due to historical forces still tugging at our collective subconscious. As part of the global aspirations of India, there do need to be attempts at creating better bridges with the Western world, which ARR has now done with SDM as far as music is concerned. He has broken through an important barrier, got his foot in the door. Now that he has the West’s attention, there will be a time in the future when Rahman can feel more comfortable in creating a musical score for a Western made film that is profoundly and proudly ethnically Indian in nature

  24. ART says:

    That is precisely the reason I ask, why do we need the WEST to endorse us? Don’t we know how good we are? don’t we know that we make much better and sensible movies than the WEST? That we know what creativity is and knew it all along?
    http://anurussell.blogspot.com/2009/01/who-ef-cares-for-oscars.html

  25. V S Rawat says:

    Dear Shekhar Ji,
    You wrote: “And I watched as the studio rejected the most beautiful compositions from A R Rahman”
    by any chance, if you have that rejected composition of ARR with you, would it be possible for you to kindly share it with us so that we can enjoy this beautiful composition.
    Thanks.

  26. Sid Singh says:

    the motion picture academy (MPA) liked the soundtrack, they nominated it. we should be happy for Rahman.
    why all the analysis and reading between the lines?
    remember the MPA is listening to Rahman in the context of a movie that they liked. the whole (the movie) is greater than the sum of it’s parts (story, screenplay, music, acting). they are looking at the whole and awarding the parts they think are outstanding.
    the MPA is going to recognize who they think they should recognize, filmfare can recognize what they think they should recognize.
    do american people protest when the filmfare awards go to the roshans and not to “no country for old men”?
    and Shekhar, what’s all this “my culture is better than your culture” or “my culture is superiour to your culture” thing? surely we can like aspects of all cultures without resorting to a ranking of cultures?

  27. Anup says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    Discovered your blog today via ‘arrahmanfans’ yahoo group and am enjoying reading through the posts.
    I agree with you, on the whole Oscar-pandering attitude that needs to be cast aside; is it some sort of inferiority complex?
    Rahman sir’s greatness as a composer and as a spiritual person is and will remain beyond the amount of recognition he will get from inside or outside India.

  28. CBS:
    From whose eyes are you judging competency? Who is judging creativity? Are 20million people incompetent in judging the creative and entertainment potential of a film like ‘Ghajini’ before buying their ticket? (Its not my favourite movie, infact it felt like a relic from the past fused with a borrowed idea of short term memory loss).But we need to question where that tint of judgement in our spectacles comes from?
    I agree with the need for copyright control to an extent. But that in itself does not solve much. You can see how ineffective it simply has been in Hollywood itself. Look at the average Valentine Day, Halloween, Christmas, season line up of releases from Hollwood over the years. While they cleverly escape the copyright noose , they all smell the same and insipid while struggling to be look different.Hollywood, riddled with an overbearing structure and controls as this is hardly the haven of creativity these days. With the same token for every 10 Ghajini’s and CC2C’s , you also get to enjoy a ‘Rock On’, a ‘TZP’ a ‘Johny Gaddar’, and a ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’.To quote a cliche’ – there after all are 7 (or is it 8) scripts/stories in all. How exclusively creative can you get without treading the same territory in some way. You can at best get innovative with the way you tell the same story (Memento for eg:) but you simply can’t escape the basic premises. The boundaries between of creative originality and theft as you say blur as you dig deeper.
    Appreciating cinema and judging its quality is a learnt process which is reflective of your ever evolving world view and exposure(to films and otherwise). When there are enough people who wear a spects with a different tint, it doesnt make their judgement inferior in quality, just different. And that needs as much respect. All I am saying is we need to avoid measuring our content from standards and notions learnt of the back of a western sensibility of quality and competence. Our movies and content are popular for a reason. When we begin to see them for what they are,we will stop being ashamed of it. And as for the role of business in the whole scheme of things here as you mention, a business does not operate in vaccuum. It knows its consumers and their demands.

  29. Aaaahh…Shekhar you’ve hit the nail on the head!
    In my own little theatre production which I wrote and produced Me Eat Manicou? as can be read about on http://www.meadysmusings.com I had this huge argument with my 18 yr old cousin who was studying at a top arts program in Toronto and who I invited to direct…he is of indian ancestry like me but grew up in Canada and is not Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani like myself.
    He didnt know of AR Rahman and we had this huge argument when I wanted to use AR Rahman’s music in the background of some scenes…we have a COTT (copyright thing that covers it by the way but it doesnt hold for international stuff yet but it allows you to play the music publicly even if it is not yours and pay back some % I didnt have the cash so i used the international loop hole so just for records I wasnt illegal) and of course my production was small and was for a good cause so hope all understand! So anyway I needed some ‘burrowed music’… So I used this mix thing from Rahman for a fight scene between my hero – the manicou and the lagahoo- a local folklore baddie! The eternal fight between Ram and Ravan in a kinda way! And my cousin said i was crazy…but after the show wrapped he had to say to me I was right it fit the scene perfectly! But he couldnt appreciate before cause he simply didnt appreciate who on earth rahman was before! The piece of music I used was from Taal the raga dance bit -Raga Dance track 8 on the Taal movie soundtrack.
    So in my own little way I’ve fought for AR Rahman’s music too! It seems people still worship the ‘white people’ though so I’m glad they are perhaps about to soon anoint him. I hope his music continues strength to strength despite of this though! 🙂
    You know I’m surprise to read what you say about Andrew Lloyd Webber cause I bought this dvd on the making of Bombay Dreams and on it they make it out that he is so thrilled by Rahman’s music blah blah and how he was at home in the UK and happened to hear clip on TV when he was in his kitchen or something of Chaiya Chaiya and was so mesmerised by it and so…good PR on the dvd then? I had never known u were involved in the play back then. I’ve not gotten to see it cause I visited London last when it had just closed…I understood they were doing in an off broadway prod now? So when I had caught some shows in London buying that making of Bombay Dreams dvd was the closest I could have gotten to seeing it…too bad I missed it!

  30. Neeta says:

    I think the celebration less due to a glittery-eyed adoration of the west than a good-willed acknowledgement that we appreciate the Oscar even while knowing there is much more talent where it came from. Shouldn’t we be glad we have the best of both worlds ?

  31. hari says:

    Hey Deepak,
    I never wrote “showcase to the West”.
    What I wrote was just “showcase” and if one must one could extend my quote as “showcase to the world”.I don’t think we should be so arrogant and self-congratulating to say we don’t need to be appreciated by anybody just because we know we are great,while in truth others don’t find much to applaud here.
    Don’t our ethos tell us to be humble even while others glorify us,and appreciate complements with grace.For others are not just others but parts of the same Universe.And probably parts that complete us where we lack.

  32. CBS says:

    To Deepak:
    Does movies like TZP,Rock On etc.. not sufficient evidence that there is no lack of stories its all about lack of intent?? We are not asking for Indian terminators or matrix,to follow th west, we are asking for sensible movies. Too much to ask?
    You are right for one thing, a business does not operate in vaccuum. It knows its consumers and their demands. or may be nature has its own ways of curing problems, thats how I see the emergence of multiplexes resolving the issues of spineless movies.
    Well difficult to understand why you feel any reason to support copycats.
    A following of billion do not qualify as natural reason for taking bolly the standard of evaluation. I dont think a taiste, songs or perspective is enough excuse for quality issues.
    Good acting,goos storyline,good editing and good music looks beutiful in whatever shades you have. Same goes for the baddies.
    Why do we always cry that west is unjust to us? Well lets first deserve than desire. There again, if we want to be taken seriously then do some class work. Dont demand respect, do good work, things will follow automaticaly.Like it did for Rahman.

  33. Sriram says:

    I agree SlmD M is NOT rahman’s best work, but its very good, he’s done better numbers than JAI HO, but a ‘mausam & escape’, dreams on fire, latika’s theme, O…Saya are very good and up there with Rahman’s best.
    There are people who say Rahman DOESN’T deserve the Oscar, am like Why?! Have you heard the compositions from the other nominated movies?! How can anyone pass a judgement, after just listening to Rahman’s album, arnt you supposed to check out the other nominee’s work as well?!
    SlmD M might not be rahman’s best, but its still the best among the others and that’s the most important thing. I really hope people get that point.
    Cheers!
    Sriram

  34. Anith says:

    I did wonder why he was a co composer in Golden Age . I happened to read this review http://www.tracksounds.com/reviews/elizabeth_golden_age_craig_armstrong_a_r_rahman.htm
    I know Shekhar is a fan 🙂 … the way you get excited ,describing a song he composed for you ,tells it all .
    How do we listen from a westerner’s perspective … only they know . So we appreciate what we get .
    I’m a Rahman fan throughout and i dont really care about the awards he got . I like it that he always looks to learn and bring on something new in every song he does .

  35. Saurabh says:

    Good One, I also believe AR Rehman has done much better compositions than slumdog, I would Rate Bombay and Roja over Slumdog Millionaires score. However, I consider Oscars to be something like Filmfare in India and not much higher because you can notice equal amount of bias in both of them.But really we are still obsessed with the west, dont know why.

  36. Babita Dubay says:

    I think Bombay, Roja and Dil se are some of my favourite music from him (AR Rahman). My fav Indian composer still is Ismail Darbar for his work in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas. And it just adds to the power that he composes for Sanjay Leela Bhansali films! 🙂

  37. Atif Haider says:

    I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Why are you guys trying to defend that “We Indians have made great movies”, Indeed we have. But it’s disappointing that many of our movies is actually borrowed from the west. I completely agree that their movies are much better than us. We have a long way to go to match their qualities. Take the example of recent movie ‘Ghajini’. It’s a huge hit. But, After watching ‘Memento’ i realized that our film industry has mastered the art of fooling us. So, rather than making huge fuss let’s make some great movies(and please don’t adapt foreign movies). And the rest of the world will follow us. 🙂

  38. Chaitali says:

    Yesterday they were showing on news channel, Amitabh Bachchan saying somehting similar to what you are saying and Sharukh saying the other way round. And media hyped it as a conflict.
    But hey I think there is politics everywhere. As far as general public is concerned, I loved A. R Rehman ever since I have heard him. His music just touches my soul. So does Mozzart’s. So a perfect title you have given him. But hey why should we call him that. I mean A R Rehman is A R Rehman. He doesnt need a title, he is a title.

  39. Navin says:

    Shekhar,
    It’s uncanny that we were thinking about the same thing at the same time. You wrote this blog at 12:07 PM on Jan, 27th and I posted the following message on an A.R. Rahman group on FB on the same day. I hadn’t read this blog till right now.
    “Navin Bajaj wrote
    at 11:05pm on January 27th, 2009
    I think AR Rahman is pure genius. If you guys are impressed with Slumdog Millionaire’s score, then listen to the soundtrack of Delhi 6. That’s even better! Rahman doesn’t really need an Oscar……the world has already bowed to the talent of this Maestro.”
    Cheers!

  40. Amrita Tripathy says:

    I haven’t yet seen the movie so it sounds a bit sceptical on the fact that Rahman’s music no doubt goes with the theme and context of the movie, well potraying the backdrop of the scene. But honestly, I didnt like Slumdog Millionare’s music… I dont know … His works have been far more better esp in FIRE and WATER…

  41. Pankaj Agrawal says:

    I would say that it is our insecurity about ourselves that makes us think this way. Oscars is mainly about hollywood movies. This is certainly rahmans best in hollywood. Personally i think this is also among rahmans all time best. Ringa ringa and o saya are among the all time best songs of rahman if not the best. The pluses of slumdog are excellent background score that just feels so part of the movie, brilliant cinematography (depicting slums in a presentable manner) and the on the face screenplay. I wasnt too happy with the acting part except for the characterisations that the director somehow managed to bring out from not exactly brilliant actors. Just one thing i would like to say about those critisizing the name or the portrayal in the movie. Slumdog is not indias story…it is just an indian story. Just because a foreigner has made it doesnt mean he is portraying india. But an Indian strory will bring forth a lot of Indian pluses and shortcomings. It was a story about rags to riches so naturally the concerntration will be more on the negatives and the hardships faced by the character. I am a staunch Hindu myself but throughout the movie I dindnt feel that it was an anti-hindu movie. I have watched deepa mehtas movies and though i admire her movie making skills, it was always very evident that she has a prejudice against hindus/hinduism. I didnt feel anything like that in this movie.

  42. Amit Sethi says:

    I think that this ‘looking to west mentality for recognition’ stems from somewhere else. True, India produces far better deliverables sometimes, but at the same time, the true ingenious work gets lost somewhere in the labyrinth of the rubbish which is produced at the same time. The rubbish produced then becomes the reason of self doubt and rejection in our collective sub-conscious.
    I do not belong to west, and I do not know how much rubbish they produced at the same time. But I know for sure that a lots of rubbish and sometimes so called inspirational work is being produced here.

  43. Aneesha says:

    Oscar is an awarded to appreciate hollywood films not world cinema.So it makes no sense to judge a film’s calibre by oscar nominations. Moreover our culture is different, our music sensibilities are different;so why do we always crave for west’s approval.
    Let’s shrug off our insecurities and celebrate our cinema!

  44. vinay says:

    HI sir,
    wat ever u said it’s perfectly acceptable, and I want to point out one actor like that who has talent enough to get oscar, he is Kamal hassan but one of the great things of Kamal is he thinks never great of Oscars he said one thing which I liked very much. He said that he never thought of oscar award and he said I respect our national award and his intention is to change the status of our national award .. He says Hollywood must walk towards our national award . Our cinema must go in tough competition to hollywood.
    Any way do u never thought of casting Kamal hassan?

  45. To Vinay: Kamal Hassan: (sorry for digressing from the main idea of this post, but you just got me going on one of my pet pains)
    Kamal :He is one genius who has long climbed the hill of self aggrandizement. He has enough movie making genius in him to take Indian cinema to new levels of creativity, but has fettered it away in a collosal body of inconsequential work over years. You know to me Naseeruddin Shah another stalwart has remained true to the art and medium than Kamal has ever been. Kamal Hassan as an actor died long ago with ‘Nayagan’ and maybe ‘Guna’. What we see today is an overconfident performer with unchecked greed to promote himself at the cost of a story and script.A caricature of himself being retold over and over again. Sadly it appears he has surrounded himself with enough people who find it more advantageous to agree with him than have the gumption to wake him up to his own genius.

  46. Anand says:

    I have many friends in the West and I totally comply with your rejection of Indian attitude. As far as I have analyzed, people in West value others only on the basis of what they have done, not on the basis of awards. They respect the Indian culture in many ways. That is really inspiring. We generally tend to weigh things on the achievements we’ve had and the hype takes it to enourmous heights. Instead, we should value the work the person has done and has been doing and appreciate in the most appropriate manner.

  47. Vijayakrishna says:

    Rahman is a great genius. Like most of you I’d agree that Slumdog Millionaire is not even his best but he’s got global recognition through this. And to those who say that Rahman has produced many other superb albums in Hindi, you should know that the best of Rahman has been his tamil music.
    Whether you understand the language or not, get the tamil albums (movies) of A R Rahman. Listen to them. The man’s a genius. The national audience have noticed only a quarter of what he has produced and the global audience have noticed not even one percent of his work.

  48. jai says:

    hi shekhar, sorry if its out of topic.
    but uve mentioned bandit queen in this post. ive not seen the film. upon some googling, i found this old write-up on the film from arundhati roy way back in 1994 when the film was released.
    part 1 – http://www.sawnet.org/books/writing/roy_bq1.html
    part 2 – http://www.sawnet.org/books/writing/roy_bq2.html
    what is ur opinion on her thoughts. did u ever respond to that in writing?
    thank u
    wud luv to know

  49. SSQuo says:

    Touche! Its some sort of validation that people are constantly looking for. God knows why! I guess its also the case of – if you ask always place yourself in a position where you offer the other person a chance to intimidate you, or wait for an approval, then they are most often than not going to take it.
    For e.g. I really like Anil Kapoor. I am not a Hindi movie fanatic but he comes across as a nice person, someone who isnt superficial and is thoroughly passionate. Still, when he was on many of the shows here, he said things like ‘who knew I would be with you guys here talking about a movie’ its only a dream, and something to the effect of feeling he is a newcomer because he is only NOW making his way in the Western movie world. This is Anil Kapoor, a almost household name in India!! I dont get it.
    Another factor is the closed-mind mentality of the west that lives and thinks in a bubble and refuses (ok not generalizing completely), but refuses to venture beyond familiar waters. Did we need a Slumdog Millionaire for people to sit up and take notice? No. Not at all. If we as Indians want to have people know more about our land, then Indians livign abroad should accept the way of life, (we have to, to be successful), but dont give up on your race, and dont badger your hometown. Speak truthfully of what you know, your experience, and tell the trusth, dispel myths as some people are just truly ignorant and I mean So ignorant, they only need someone to get them to think otherwise. I have experienced this a lot. As they say education is the key, and I say in more aspects than one.
    For context: I am an Indian who has been living outside the country (US-now in NY) for almost 71/2yrs, and while the opportunities are great, my heart belongs to Mumbai, I do hope that in the next few years I will make my way back home.
    Finally just want to add that I really loved Bandit Queen, I saw it much too late – but was do glad I did. 🙂 Here were my thoughts after I saw the movie. http://matterofgray.blogspot.com/2007/11/queen-of-hills.html
    Nice blog!

  50. Meera says:

    You asked a very pertinent question in this blog? “When will we stop being aspirational towards the West?”
    The answer is very simple. When Indians have self-esteem and believe truly in their hearts that they are good people, hard working people, smart people equal to anybody in the world, that is the day we will stop chasing this elusive need to catch up with the West. The remedy is hard and involves the following:
    1) Mass media and journalists should highlight the progress we have made in the last 60 years.
    2) Education should focus on encouraging students to look for positive approaches and follow that with praise for their achievement and efforts.
    3) We have to seriously look back at our history and change the entire focus which has been driven by pre-Independence Anglo interests to a truly honest look at the events that unfolded and teach to the truth.
    This will encourage Indians to develop national pride and then we will start in a serious way helping each other to grow and develop and we will truly have national growth.
    Mr. Kapoor – as a director, you can help make this change happen by the kind of projects you take on- highlighting the progress we have made and how individuals can make the difference. Pitting slum dwellers against IT programmers cinematically as in Slumdog is not the answer.

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