Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rahman at Oscar: Appreciation or Ignorance?

Our very dear, very own, A R Rahman gets three Oscar nominations in two categories. One of the nominations is for the same song for which Rahman got a Golden Globe, the golden song - Jai Ho. The thing i'm happy about is that this time Gulzar also got nominated for the song along with Rahman.

The other song in the same category of original song is o saya, which is a fine song, though not upto the level of Jai ho, or even other creations of Rahman while one counts the best of him. Still, a nomination is acceptable.

But the nomination that came more as a shock to me rather than surprise was for a category called Original Score. For slumdog millionaire, of course. This was something i did not understand. I feel that if a movie gets an award (or a nomination) for an original score, it has to have more than a few good songs. And as far as Slumdog Millionaire is concerned, i beg to differ. Slumdog is hardly one of the best original scores Rahman has produced, even with a good song like Jai ho, for which i would like to give credit to Gulzar and Sukhwinder Singh along with Rahman.

If one has a doubt about the mediocrity of the score of Slumdog, one just needs to listen to Ringa Ringa, the song which is almost a choli ke peeche, I need not write, from Khalnayak. (probably more because of the notoriousness of the song, rather than popularity)

Though, i was told by somebody that Rahman and the Slumdog team wanted to give a 90's touch to the music. But then, i suppose if it's that much inspired or has a 'touch', it can't be Original.

On the whole, the thing that troubles me the most is that Rahman has made far better songs than the soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire, but owing to the ignorance of the 'big' people, the ones giving out all those Golden Globes and Oscars, and who never came to know about all that great music of Rahman, all awards are being given to a mediocre creation of Rahman, and I feel it's unfair to all of us Indians who know what actual Rahman is. And still, we're so happy to get all these awards. But I don't feel like celebrating the ignorance of these big people myself.

Anyway, for now I wish all the best to Rahman, because he has given us lots of lots of great music for which he deserves a lot more.

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  • Anonymous said...


    The award for Original Score is for the whole movie, which you know, but it is not about what Rahman created in the past. The Original Score Oscar nomination is only in comparison to other movies for this past year, and only those that came out in the United States. Look at only the other movies that were out this past year in the United States. I cannot think of anything memorable from any of those other movies! So, Rahman's work easily does fit into the top five, when one only compares the music from movies that came out in the United States, for just one year.

    The other thing with the Original Score nomination is not just the music itself but how it is used throughout the entire movie, and how it fits. For example, yes, Jai Ho by itself is incredible as a song, but saving it for the end is brilliant!!!! The story ends and everybody is all happy, then comes this joyous sound and dancing, which makes people feel even happier. If they put that song earlier in the movie, it would overpower the story. That is part of the criteria for Original Score, how the music fits with the movie.

    In other places in the movie, the music fits with what is happening in the movie yet it does not overpower the story. That is another part of the criteria of how music gets judged for that Original Score category. Music should not get in the way of the story; it should enhance the movie but not overshadow it.

    Of course, Original Score also means new and different. In comparing just the movies of the past year in the United States, obviously Rahman's music is going to sound new and different from anything else.

    One last thing--Many people make a big deal about the director not being Indian and thinking that is the reason why this movie got attention. Most people in the United States do not care who made the movie or which country he came from but only care if the movie is bad, good, or outstanding. A well-known director or well-know actors might make it easier to get people to come see a movie when it first comes out in the theater. If there is an unknown director and unknown actors, if a few people show up and they like a movie, then they will tell others. This is how the "Blair Witch Project" became popular a few years back. It was made by a bunch of no-name amateurs who barely knew what they were doing with the camera. But, a few people told other people to go see it because they liked it and eventually it became popular as more friends told friends.

    I hope this helps.

  • Harshit Gupta said...

    Well.. Thanks for the detail. But my problem is more with the people who are feeling as if rahman has suddenly done something he never has. It's about the eagerness to get the so-called-ultimate-recognition in which they seem to undermine the genius' previous works.

    I hope that one is understandable. Anyway, thanks for the huge comment. there were some points i really found good.

  • Sanket said...

    Why not look at it in a more positive way? I agree that A R Rahman has produced better songs than Jai Ho before. But, this Oscar has acquainted western audience with A R's music and hopefully they will dig up his old songs!