Oscar team welcomed with cheers and tears of joy

Mumbai, Feb 26 (IANS) The Oscar winning team of "Slumdog Millionaire" was greeted with tears of joy, garlands and champagne at the airport here on its return from Los Angeles early Thursday.

Sound technician Resul Pookutty and actor Irrfan Khan were virtually mobbed by a large crowd of onlookers who had gathered at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, while Azharuddin and Rubina - the two slum kids who acted in the movie - were the cynosure of all eyes.

As they stepped out of the airport, the family members of both kids hugged them with tears of joy at their achievement.

Slumdwllers of Garib Nagar had hired a bus to go to the airport to receive the children, said Yakub Sheikh, a neighbour of the two children's families.

When Pookutty stepped out, a cheering crowd offered him a bottle of champagne which he opened to a huge round of applause. All the team members were then garlanded by their friends, relatives and fans. Pookutty was taken to his home in Goregaon suburb of northwest Mumbai in an open car.

Even those who had come to either see off or receive their near and dear ones at the airport joined in the celebrities by offering flowers and cheering the Indians who had brought Oscar glory to the country.

Police had made elaborate security arrangements at the airport and safely escorted the team members to their respective vehicles.

When Azharuddin and Rubina reached the slum in Bandra around 5 a.m., almost all the residents of Garib Nagar and the adjacent Behrampada slums were awake to receive them, said Sheikh.

"Although they had been gone for just a week, it has been an emotional reunion for their families," he said.

"Slumdog Millionaire" won the big ticket Oscars for best picture and best director at the 81st annual Academy Awards as well as for six others, including two for Indian music composer A.R. Rahman, who won for best original score and best original song for the exuberant "Jai Ho" with lyricist Gulzar.

While Pookutty shared the award with two others for best sound mixing, the film also won best adapted screenplay, best cinematography and best editing awards.

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