Mumbai was by far the shiniest star at the Oscar's! My heart was in my mouth just once - when the biggest of the biggest was announced - Best Film. I prayed to an entire pantheon of Gods as Spielberg read out the winner's name... and Boyle sprung into action. Anil K was first off the mark - veteran that he is. He knew his only chance of getting into the tight camera frame while Danny made his acceptance speech ( let down !), was to stick as close to him as possible - after all, the stage was pretty crowded at that point. So there was Anil, grinning away and giving the camera 'those ones'. He also managed to grab the Oscar, wave it around, and generally attract maximum attention right after the speech. Why not? Boyle called himself a 'bloody idiot' for forgetting a choreographer's name in the credits. Well, the choreographer must be thanking his stars about the lapse, since he was mentioned twice or thrice during the key speech!
Mumbai was also thanked over and over again - even Mumbaikars who opposed the film, were acknowledged by Danny! Smart! Should our real slumdogs be celebrating tonight??Will Mumbai's tourist potential go up? Has Mumbai suddenly become a sexy destination for goras in search of shitholes to crawl out of?? Ah well.... whichever way one looks at it, the movie obviously touched thousands of hearts. My own reading of its stupendous success in America is that watching Mumbai's wretchedness and abject poverty, must have made the average American feel less depressed about the recession and potential squalor that confronts the original Land of Milk and Honey.
Oh.... did you guys notice Angelina Jolie's eye -popping emeralds? If real and borrowed, that's another story. If they are her own ... she could flog them and adopt twenty more kids for the same price. I loved Sophia Loren's OTT appearance. Sean Penn's acceptance speech, and Anne Hathaway's EVERYTHING!
Strange how underplayed the LTTE aerial attack on targets in Colombo was here in India. There must be a bloody good political explanation for that. But believe me when I stress this - it was horrific and extreme. When I recreate the sequence of events now, it seems even more chilling in that it was daring, audacious and perfectly executed strike by well -trained suicide bombers who meant business. Kamikaze operations are undertaken by professionals, not amateurs. This was one such. One of the bombs had been dropped less than 500 metres from our hotel. Several models backstage who were standing by a large window had seen the plane swooping past the hotel and heard the explosion that followed when it crashed into the building (Internal Revenue Office) right behind. After enduring the horror and chaos at the venuel, we decided to spend the night at a dear friend's safe home - but what is safe? Who is safe? Nobody could sleep.... there were reports of a rogue rebel sub in the waters just a few yards away from the Taj Samudra. Naval patrol boats maintaining a constant vigil provided some relief. But that was not enough. When we staggered back to the hotel at 11a.m. the next morning, we were told everybody who stayed behind that terrifying night, had chosen to party on till 6 am! The club rocked! Cocktails and food were served through the long , dark hours. Colombo lives with terror.... people are 'used to it.' And yes, continuing in that same spirit, the fashion week finale was resceduled!! Eleven back-to-back designers strutting their stuff. Can you imagine the state backstage? The show had to go on...it did.
A few hours later, there we were in the same packed ballroom, with the same invitees.It was a demonstration of the undying spirit of the undaunted (or the foolish!). I opened the show with a small homage to the people of Colombo... who refuse to allow these frequent assaults to crush them. It was a very special moment. My last model, dressed in all black, walked the ramp making the universal peace sign. Minutes later, we headed for the airport and home. People asked whether we wanted to switch flights... or airline (we were booked on Sri Lankan). No way. By doing that, we would have surrendered. When civil society panics or gives up - the enemy wins. We lose.