By Akshay Bhansali
For the first time since Sir Ben Kingsley brought the great Indian leader to life in 1982’s “Gandhi” — which also won eight Oscars — we have a runaway hit, with a cast made up of Indian legends like Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan. But this film’s success reaches far beyond that: I actually hear random people in Times Square singing the film’s “O … Saya” at the top of their lungs. When has anything like this ever happened before? Mira Nair’s “The Namesake” and Deepa Mehta’s “Water” came close, but never before have non-Indian folks come up to me and screamed “Jai ho!!”
Working at MTV News has always been a treat — on my first interview shoot, with Cam’ron back in 2003, he gave me a Prada shoe (only to ask for it back after we stopped rolling, but whatever!). But it’s especially cool to work with a team that “gets it” when they think you’re onto something. And from my first segment highlighting Indian composer A.R. Rahman (who collaborated with John Legend on the Oscar stage last night and took home two Oscars for his work on “Slumdog”), everyone has been enthusiastic about our coverage of the film. MTV News correspondent Tim Kash jumped at the chance to interview the stars of the film Dev Patel and Freida Pinto, and MTV News’ Movies Editor Josh Horowitz had to have them in his Oscars spoof segment.
Why is all of this a big deal? Last night was a HUGE night for Desis (South Asians) in pop culture. Indian actors, music, art and even our dancing was embraced on a global scale, more so than ever before. Jai ho!!