May Bombay win Oscars

Feb 24, 2013, 09:44 IST | Shakti Shetty

Bombay Jayashri's Pi's Lullaby in Ang Lee's film Life of Pi has been nominated for the Academy Awards, 2013 in the category of Best Original Song category. The Carnatic singer speaks to Shakti Shetty about being surprised and now, hopeful

Like 2012, Anil Ambani is most likely to be present at the Oscar gala this year as well. After all, Reliance Entertainment is one of the three studios behind the much-acclaimed Daniel Day-Lewis starrer Lincoln.

However, the billionaire industrialist won’t be winning any statuette even if the biopic makes the most of its 12 nominations. Similarly, Anupam Kher is playing a small but significant role in Silver Linings Playbook — which has garnered eight nods. These developments make Bombay Jayashri the only nominated Indian at the Academy Awards this time around.

Bombay Jayashri sung the Tamil track Pi’s Lullaby in the Oscar-nominated Life Of Pi, and penned the lyrics, too. File Photo

“When I first heard the news, I couldn’t believe it,” says the Carnatic exponent. She has been co-nominated — along with Mychael Danna — for Pi’s Lullaby in Life of Pi under the Original Song category. She has not only sung the Tamil track but also penned the lyrics. According to Danna, it was director Ang Lee’s idea to use the soothing number at the very beginning of their 3D film. “He wanted to convey the tone right from the very first scene itself. The voice is magical and transcends the need to understand those spoken words,” adds the Canadian musician.

Pi’s Lullaby might have helped Jayashri get noticed on the global scale, the Chennai-based vocalist has been active on the classical front for more than three decades now. On Monday morning, she’ll be up against several bigwigs from the world of music. The other contenders vying for the trophy include Skyfall from Skyfall (Adele and Paul Epworth), Before My Time from Chasing Ice (J Ralph), Everybody Needs a Best Friend from Ted (Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane) and Suddenly from Les Miserables (Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil).

 Shankar Mahadevan

Interestingly, she has sung just two songs for Bollywood films so far — Zara Zara (Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein) and Chahoon Bhi Toh (Force). And this numerical reluctance is evident in Kailash Kher’s assessment as well. “I’m not really aware of her work. Having said that, I’m glad for her because it’s a huge honour. This nomination also begs an important question: how much really is the western world aware of us? There is so much to offer and exchange. Lullaby is just a glimpse of the rich treasure that lies here,” points out the Sufi-folk crooner.

Tomorrow, at Kodak Theatre, she’ll be rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in showbiz from across the world. For someone who has collaborated with international artistes before, her rooted background has only proved an admirable advantage. At least that’s what Pankaj Udhas observes.

“Thanks to access and opportunities, there are qualified as well as unqualified musicians performing nowadays. Jayashri clearly belongs to the former category and that’s what makes this recognition sweeter. Given her classical backdrop, I’d be very happy if she manages to bag the award,” adds the ghazal singer.

Those who made it, and didn’t
Over the years, the Academy has somehow mostly shied away from Indian cinema. Except these few instances listed below:
Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957) was the first Indian film to be nominated
Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s An Encounter with Faces (1979) got the nod for Docu Short
Bhanu Athaiya became the first Indian to win an Oscar for Best Costume Design in Gandhi (1982)
In 1988, Salaam Bombay! became the second Indian film to be nominated
Satyajit Ray received the Lifetime Achievement with Audrey Hepburn personally handing him the award
Lagaan (2001) came the closest to bagging one
In 2004, Ashvin Kumar’s Little Terrorist earned Live Action Short Film nod
AR Rahman, Gulzar and Resul Pookutty won for Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Smile Pinki (2008), made in Hindi and Bhojpuri, won Best Documentary (Short) 

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