AR Rahman wins Oscars for music

Indian composer AR Rahman has won two Oscars for his work in Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.

Rahman took one Oscar for the best score and another for his song Jai Ho from the film, a rags-to-riches tale set in the slums of Mumbai.

He praised Slumdog Millionaire's themes of hope and optimism.

Rahman is among five Indians to win an Oscar. Two other Indians, Gulzar and Resul Pookutty, picked up Oscars for original song and sound mixing.

Earlier Oscar winners from India were costume designer Bhanu Athaiya for her work in Gandhi in 1983 and director Satyajit Ray, who won a lifetime achievement award in 1992.

British director Danny Boyle has won best director for Slumdog Millionaire and the film also took best picture. Altogether, it netted eight awards.

Mumbai celebrations

Rahman, 43, picked up the Oscar for best original score before, minutes later, picking up a second for the best song, along with Gulzar.

"I just want to thank again the whole crew of Slumdog Millionaire, especially Danny Boyle, for giving me such a great opportunity," he said, while accepting the award.

The composer said he hailed "all the people from Mumbai and the essence of the film, which is about optimism and the power of hope and our lives".

He went on: "All my life I've had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I'm here. God bless."

TV pictures showed Rahman's family cutting a cake in his home city of Chennai in southern India and celebrating the composer's win.

A local band played a tribute to the composer singing the hit song, Jai Ho.

The BBC's Prachi Pinglay in Mumbai says there have been celebrations in the slums of Mumbai, where two of the film's actors live.

Many slum dwellers have been watching the Oscar ceremony on television sets.
Rafique, the father of Rubina Ali - who portrays the youngest version of the leading lady Latika in the film - said: "It's a proud moment for India that the film has been awarded an Oscar. I am waiting for my daughter to return home with the stories."

A neighbour, Shameem, said Slumdog's success would spur the children in the area to succeed in life.

"Rubina should continue to act, she should not give it up. We are really happy for her," he said.

Indian sound engineer Resul Pookutty also picked up an Oscar for sound mixing along with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke Resul Pookutty for Slumdog Millionaire.

Mr Pookutty, a graduate from the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India, has been in the industry for over 10 years and has worked on several big films.

Bollywood actor-director Aamir Khan said he was "thrilled" by India's successes at the Oscars.

"It is great to see Indian talent [in cinema] being recognised internationally. We are no less than anybody else," Khan told TV channels.

Another film with an Indian connection won the best documentary short Oscar.

Smile Pinki, a 39-minute documentary by American director Megan Mylan on an eight-year-old Indian girl born with a cleft lip, was one of the four short documentaries nominated for the Academy Awards.

There were celebrations in the north Indian village in Mirzapur district where Pinki lives, the BBC's Geeta Pandey says.

The girl's uncle said that several hundred people had made a procession, chanting "Bharat mata ki jai" (Hail to Mother India).

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