What happened on the night AR Rahman won an Oscar
Born as AS Dileep Kumar, AR Rahman’s life could as well be scripted. From being compelled to shoulder the responsibilities of his household at a tender age, converting to Islam at the age of 23 to emerging as one of the most successful music composers in India and finally walking upto the stage and collecting an Oscar in 2011, Rahman’s story was waiting to be told.
With the help of the reclusive composer, author Krishna Trilok has written Notes Of A Dream, an authorised biography of Rahman. The book, published by Penguin, traces the highs and lows in his life and makes for a compelling read.
The 81st Academy Awards ceremony commenced at 5.30 p.m. at the Kodak Theatre (today known as the Dolby Theatre) in the Hollywood and Highland Center complex on Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. AR arrived at the venue with Saira and Kareema Begum. For the red carpet—the publicity blitz that takes place outside of the auditorium before the presentation ceremony, the swirl of photographs and interviews—he wore a black Lanvin tuxedo with a light pistachio green tie, though he would change into a black sherwani designed by Sabyasachi Mukherjee for the rest of the evening.
Mani Ratnam’s production company Madras Talkies had wanted to give AR an outfit for the event as a gift, but Saira (the ‘fashionconscious one in the marriage’) had approached Sabyasachi directly to design something for him. Australian actor Hugh Jackman hosted the Academy Awards and opened the night by saying ‘the Academy loves to salute range, ladies and gentlemen’. (Something that it is often panned for not doing.)
The show was a departure from the Oscar ceremonies that came before (including the previous year’s show, which garnered very mixed reviews and earned the lowest viewership for an Oscar telecast since the figures began to be recorded in 1974). For the 81st Oscars, in a bid to shake things up, everything was new. Apart from the host, the producers of the event, Bill Condon and Lawrence Mark, announced that they would not be disclosing the names of the presenters or performers at the ceremony in order to build up suspense.