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Why Gulzar missed the Oscars

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February 24, 2009

Gulzar has been penning beautiful songs for Hindi movies through the years. But it took a Slumdog Millionaire [Images] -- and A R Rahman's brilliant music in it -- to get Gulzar [Images] his first Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, Gulzar, who wrote the lyrics of Oscar-winning song Jai Ho, could not make it to the awards ceremony. He talks to Girish Rao about his experience.

How do you feel right now?

I'm thrilled. More than me, I am thrilled for the whole team. I was very happy for Rahman and it's all because of the emotional relationship I share with him. I consider Rahman as a great composer. I had a lump in my throat when I heard his name being announced.

I thanked God that he got an Oscar for Original Score, that was more than enough for me. I wonder what might have happened to me if I had gone there. I might have cried. I am so happy for him and of course, Danny Boyle [Images], and his team.

Rahman and you have taken Indian music to greater heights.

This happiness cannot be measured. It's a great thing and a great achievement for Indian music. It's not that such a thing has happened for the first time. It's just that for the first time, Indian music has received so much recognition. We have stalwarts like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Allah Rakha, Pandit Jasraj and L Subramanian, who have won Grammy awards.

The success of Indian music at the Oscars is a great achievement. This recognition goes on to prove that not only Indian classical music but light music also has great strength in them. It all started with the Golden Globe [Images] awards, followed with the BAFTAs and now the Oscars. It's a great achievement for anyone, who is a part of the film industry.

Had you ever thought that your words would have such an echo?

You never can predict what will happen in the future. It's not my words but the greatness of Rahman's composition that calls for the ultimate success. It's all about the success of Rahman's composition and that's why he has been bestowed with such an honour. In that success, I have become a part, as has singer Sukhwinder Singh.

So in this hour of happiness, I would also like to include Sukhwinder, who has created magic with his vocal skills. The way he has rendered the song is beautiful. But the fact remain that the true success goes to Rahman. I thank and congratulate him for it.

Now when we are talking about Slumdog Millionaire, it becomes essential to include other factors too. Firstly, Danny Boyle. The film is a director's medium and is a director's responsibility to create a team and manage it. The director follows a concept, and deserves [credit] equally.

Then there is Simon [Beaufoy], who has written the film's screenplay. The day I watched the film, I realised that that the screenplay is just too good.

The cinematography of the film and Resul [Pookutty] deserve a clap for the work they have done. Last but not the least, the kids of the film. They look like they are born actors.

Did you watch the Oscars on television?

Unfortunately, I could not. I was under the assumption that an Indian news channel was to air the live footage but that was not the case and so I missed those defining moments.

Why did you not go to the Oscars?

I had hurt my right shoulder while playing tennis. The pain was excruciating. My family insisted that I go and I now regret not having gone for the Oscars. At that time, no one knew that we would win the awards. But that regret will always remain with me.

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