Anupama Chopra shares first-hand Oscars experience


By Hindustan Times

As early as 12.30 pm, the red carpet was already buzzing. The event didn't even start till 3 pm. Everyone present was dressed to the nines; even the technical crew was in tuxedos. When guests started arriving at 2, there was chaos, because there were so many people. But the energy was amazing.

The stars walked down and stopped at places for interviews. I spoke to Ang Lee, who was lovely as always. The last time I interviewed him, he said he felt like Pi (his protagonist in Life Of Pi; 2012), someone waiting for it all to get over. I asked him how he felt now. "This is the last night. Tomorrow, I get onto another job," he said. Suraj Sharma, who played Pi Patel, said he felt like he was in a fairy-tale. Bombay Jayashri (nominated for Best Original Song) was very calm. She said, "It's an honour to be here, and I just want to soak it in."

Not everyone on the red carpet gets to go inside the Dolby Theatre. I did, and was amazed by how classy and well-coordinated it all was. There are things you don't get to see on TV: the cues given to the audience to applaud; the open bar outside where you can go and be drinking next to a star (the producer of my show, in fact, said, "I met Anne Hathaway in the washroom!"); again, even the people who move the sets around between performances are impeccably dressed.

Unlike Indian awards, the Oscars isn't just about winning or being paid to perform. It's where the entire industry comes together to celebrate the movies. The high points, for me, were Daniel Day-Lewis's Best Actor speech, and Adele's performance. Seth McFarlane (the host) was funny, but not throughout. He cracked a joke about the real performance starting after the show, when the stars have to pretend they are enjoying themselves at the Governor's Ball. That was quite funny. For the stars, it doesn't get over with the ceremony. There are media interactions and after-parties to attend. The Oscars is an all-day-all-night affair.

Anupama Chopra, writer and film reviewer for Hindustan Times, attended the Oscars in Los Angeles

Not many know that businss tycoon Anil Ambani, who co-produced Lincoln, threw a small reception to honour the Indians who have been a part of the Oscars this year. Held at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills last Saturday, it was attended by the likes of Anupam Kher, Suraj Sharma and Dev Patel, and Carnatic singer Bombay Jayashri.

A small get-together with around 25 people, including select media members, the hour-and-half-long tea-time party saw a mutual fan club among the actors, who were heard praising each other's works in their respective nominated films, and catching up. Anupam, who later went on to attend the Oscar nominees' official dinner that night, however, had to resort to watching the ceremony as a viewer rather than as an attendee, as he didn't have an entry ticket on him for the main event.

At the Oscars, losers are winners too, as not many know that the nominees, who didn't get to take home the coveted golden statuette this year, got hampers worth $45,000 each. To most of the viewers' ignorance, LA-based marketing firm Distinctive Assets handed out its annual 'Everyone Wins at the Oscars Nominee Gift Bag' to the 'losers'. Also known as swag bags, these contain a bouquet of items such as trips to Australia, Hawaii and Mexico, personal training sessions, condoms, a bottle of tequila, hand-illustrated tennis shoes, appointments for injectable fillers and portion-controlled dinnerware for those watching their figure. That's not all. There's also an under-the-counter water filtration system, acupuncture and aromatherapy sessions, a one-week stay at a fitness and weight-loss retreat, and a one-year membership to London's Heathrow Airport's private VIP service. Nominees' children also get benefits as they get to enroll in professional all-kid circus classes.

And the oscar goes to...
Best picture: Argo
Best film editing: William Goldenberg for Argo
Best cinematography: Claudio Miranda for Life Of Pi
Best visual effects: Life Of Pi
Best foreign language film: Amour (Austria)
Best music (original score): Life Of Pi by Michael Danna
Best music (original song): Adele for 'Skyfall' from Skyfall
Best adapted screenplay: Chris Terrio for Argo
Best animated feature film: Brave

‘This will be the writers’ year’
Daniel Day-Lewis
Actor in lead role for Lincoln
“It’s a strange thing because three years ago, before we decided to do a straight swap, I had actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher and Meryl was Steven’s first choice for Lincoln and I’d like to see that version. And Steven didn’t have to persuade me to play Lincoln, but I had to persuade him that perhaps if I was going to do it, then Lincoln shouldn’t be a musical. My fellow nominees, my equals, my betters, I am so proud to have been included as one amongst you.”
Best known for:
Gangs Of New York (2002)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
My Left Foot (1990)

Jennifer Lawrence
Actress in a leading role for Silver Linings Playbook
“Thank you, you guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that’s really embarrassing, but thank you. This is nuts. Thank you to the Academy and thank you to the women this year, you are so magnificent and so inspiring… happy birthday Emmanuelle.”
Best known for:
X-Men: First Class (2011)
The Hunger Games (2012)

Quentin Tarantino
Original Screenplay for Django Unchained
“I actually think if people are knowing about my movies 30 or 50 years from now it’s gonna be because of the characters that I created. And I really only got one chance to get it right. I have to cast the right people to make those characters come alive and hopefully live for a long time. And, boy, this time did I do it. Thank you so much, guys. Leo ain’t over there, but I’m thanking him, too. Okay, I know, I know. I’m getting off… This will be the writers’ year, man. Thank you… I love the competition… Peace out.”
Best known for:
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Kill Bill: Vol 1 and 2 (2003, 2004)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Christoph Waltz
Actor in a supporting role for Django Unchained
“We participated in a hero’s journey — the hero here being Quentin. And you scale the mountain because you’re not afraid of it. You slay the dragon because you’re not afraid of it and you cross through fire because it’s worth it. I borrowed my character’s words, so sorry… couldn’t resist. Thank you.”
Best known for:
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Carnage (2011)

Anne Hathaway
Actress in a supporting role for Les Misérables
“I want to thank my friends, especially the ones who are cheering from Crosby Street tonight. My family, who I’m so blessed to be a part of. My husband. By far and away, the greatest moment of my life is the one when you walked into it. I love you so much. And thank you for this. Here’s hoping that someday in the not too distant future, the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and never in real life. Thank you.”
Best known for:
The Princess Diaries (2001)
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Hosting the Oscars is one of the most critical jobs in showbiz. But Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, 39, who had earlier proclaimed that his hosting gig was a “one-off” thing ended up receiving quite a few positive reactions. He also succeeded in hybridising the pointed barbs of three-time Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais with the classy style of Billy Crystal, who hosted the Oscars nine times, and most recently, last year. MacFarlane also sang during the show multiple times and had also received a nomination in the Original Song category for the film Ted. However, as he had predicted earlier, he lost that Academy Award to the super-talented Adele.

The writer's trip has been sponsored by the channel Star Movies that aired the Oscars ceremony live on Monday morning.

Prior to the release of Life Of Pi, Ang Lee, in an exclusive interview with filmmaker Karan Johar, had told HT Café some interesting facts about his journey.

Here's a recap.
Karan Johar: I believe you have given four years of your life to Life Of Pi. Why?
Ang lee: It was a thought-provoking book. It examines illusions and that's what filmmakers do, we tell stories through illusions. It's all about believing and also about the power of storytelling.

Karan: I think India has always celebrated you. This is not a question but a statement. The audience has really respected your work over the decades.
Ang lee: I've found that you can never make a movie as good as it plays in people's heads. So that is not something you can control. However the experience is the memory you can take home.

Karan: What is Ang Lee like on the morning of a big release?
Ang lee: I don't know. I don't do anything special now. Sometimes I just go for the movie to see how it plays for the audience. The audience doesn't give a crap about what you've done to make the movie. It's not their concern.