Film set in Mumbai wins 8 Oscars, including for best film; two for A.R. Rahman; Resul Pookutty shares award

LOS ANGELES: "Slumdog Millionaire", the rags-to-riches story of a Mumbai slum dweller, had a golden run at the Oscars sweeping eight awards with two going to music maestro A R Rahman, the first Indian to achieve the historic feat.

43-year-old Rahman bagged Oscars for Original Score in the film, named the best at the 81st Academy Awards, and along with veteran lyricist Gulzar also won the Best Song award for the foot-tapping number 'Jai ho'.

"Before coming here I was excited and terrified. The last time I felt that way was when I was getting married," a beaming Rahman, dubbed as 'Mozart of Madras', said in his acceptance speech as he became the first Indian to win an Oscar in the mainstream section and the third after Bhanu Athaiya (costume design, 1983) and Satyajit Ray (lifetime achievement, 1992).

"The film is about optimism and the power of hope...all my life I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I'm here," Rahman, clad in a black suit, said about the low-budget movie based on Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup's novel "Q amp; A".

Kerala-born sound engineer Resul Pookutty notched up an Oscar for Sound Mixing while Briton Danny Boyle was adjudged the Best Director.

It is a great thing to be a part of this composition which has won an award. It is an extra happiness and extra thrill for me," Gulzar said in Mumbai.

"My first reaction was surprise and thrill but as soon as the programme started my bet was on Rahman. I am very happy for Resul."

After Steven Spielberg announced the best film award for "Slumdog Millionaire", most of the team members went up the stage amid thunderous applause.

Several of the child actors of the film were the cynosure of all eyes at the pre-Oscars red carpet parade, overawed by the glitter and glamour, a far cry from the Mumbai slums.

Rahman performed a medley of 'Jai ho' and 'O saya' assisted by dancers and singer John Legend and left the audience at the packed Kodak Theater awe-struck.

"Bollywood dancing should become the rage in Hollywood and I must take up some (Bollywood) dancing lessons myself," Amy Adams, nominated for the Best Supporting Actress, said at the post-Oscar party.

Simon Beaufoy picked up the best Adapted Screenplay and Anthony Dod Mantle the best Cinematography award for "Slumdog Millionaire" which also bagged the honours for Best Editing.

Rahman dedicated his Oscars to god and his mother Kareema Begum, who was seated among the audience here. "There is a Hindi dialogue 'mere pass ma hai' which means even if I have got nothing I have my mother here. I want to thank her for coming all the way to support me," he said.

"Slumdog Millionaire" edged past Brad Pitt-starrer "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", which had 13 nominations. The film won three Oscars.

In all, 25 Oscars were announced.

Kate Winslet won Best Actress Oscar for her role as a Nazi prison guard in "The Reader" while Sean Penn was awarded the best Actor Oscar his portrayal of a gay-rights activist for "Milk".

Heath Ledger bagged the Oscar posthumously for best Supporting Actor for his diabolic role of 'Joker' in "The Dark Knight".

Penelope Cruz picked up her first Oscar as she was named the Best Supporting Actress for the role in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona".

The Oscar statuette, which depicts a knight holding a crusader's sword and standing on a reel of film, stands 13.5 inches tall and weighs in at a robust 8.5 pounds. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers. -- PTI

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