Is an Oscar really “the kiss of death” in Bollywood, as filmmaker Shekhar Kapur claims as an explanation for why composer A R Rahman is allegedly being shut out of film projects?
Sound designer Resul Pookutty says he suffered “a near breakdown” because he allegedly received little or no work in the Hindi film industry after winning an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, the same film that gave Rahman his double win. Rahman, much loved and much admired globally, recently spoke darkly of a “gang working against” him, because of which he’s allegedly getting fewer films. Shekhar Kapur explained this as “more talent than Bollywood can handle,” in response to which Resul Pookutty added his post-Oscar experience.
Here’s what A R Rahman said in an interview to Radio Mirchi, as reported by news agency PTI. “See, I don’t say no to good movies, but I think there is a gang, which, due to misunderstandings, is spreading some false rumours.” This sounds incredible, coming from the man who gave us the unforgettable music of Roja, Dil Se, Kadhalan, Rangeela, Rang De Basanti and Lagaan. However, Rahman says Mukesh Chhabra, director of Dil Bechara which has a score by Rahman, was warned against working with him. “When Mukesh Chhabra came to me, I gave him four songs in two days. He said, ‘Sir, how many people said don’t go, don’t go (to him). They told me stories after stories.’ I heard that, and I said, ‘Yeah okay, now I understand why I am doing less (work) and why the good movies are not coming to me.’ I am doing dark movies because there is a whole gang working against me, without them knowing that they are doing harm,” Rahman said, reports PTI.
Unsurprisingly, A R Rahman’s comments made headlines – the very private maestro usually lets his music do the talking for him. Shekhar Kapur, who has had his own Oscar experiences with the films Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, wrote in a tweet: “You Know what your problem is, A R Rahman? You went and got Oscars. An Oscar is the kiss of death in Bollywood. It proves you have more talent than Bollywood can handle.”
In response, Resul Pookutty, who won the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing for Slumdog Millionaire, tweeted, “Dear Shekhar Kapur, ask me about it. I had gone through near breakdown as nobody was giving me work in Hindi films and regional cinema held me tight after I won the Oscar. There were production houses told me at my face “we don’t need you” but I still love my industry for it.”
Dear @shekharkapur ask me about it, I had gone through near breakdown as nobody was giving me work in Hindi films and regional cinema held me tight after I won the Oscar… There were production houses told me at my face ”we don’t need you” but still I love my industry,for it…. https://t.co/j5CMNWDqqr
— resul pookutty (@resulp) July 26, 2020
Rahman’s own response to Mr Kapur’s hypothesis was typically Rahman. “Lost money comes back, fame comes back but the wasted prime time of our lives will never come back. Peace! Let’s move on. We have greater things to do,” he tweeted. Rahman won his Oscars – for Best Original Score and Best Original Song – in 2009.
The cliquishness of the film industry has been something of a hot button topic ever since actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, allegedly by suicide. Several high-profile producers boycotted Mr Rajput despite his several screen successes, unconfirmed reports say; the Maharashtra government announced that the police investigation into the actor’s death would also probe allegations that he was depressed because of professional rivalry.