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'Slumdog' composer Rahman wins 2 Oscars

LOS ANGELES — In just one night, Indian film composer A.R. Rahman equaled the number of Oscars his fellow Indians had taken home during the first 80 years of the Academy Awards.

The 43-year-old composer, hailed in India as the Mozart of the Madras, won Oscars Sunday for best original soundtrack and best original song, both from the movie ” Slumdog Millionaire.”

Other Indians to collect Oscar gold before him were costume designer Bhanu Athaiya honored for “Gandhi” in 1982, and arthouse director Satyajit Ray who received a lifetime achievement award in 1992.

“I was excited and terrified,” the soft-spoken Rahman said as he collected his first Oscar, for best original soundtrack. “The last time I felt like that was during my marriage.”

Rahman competed against himself in the best song category with two nominations, for “O.. Saya” and “Jai Ho.” He won for the latter, the title of which translates in English to “Be Victorious.”

Rahman is no stranger to success in India. His fans there and elsewhere have made him one of the world’s best-selling recording artists, on par globally with the Rolling Stones and Madonna.

He believes music and film can bring people together despite boundaries of race, nationality and religion.

“All my life, I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love, and I’m here,” Rahman said as he collected his second Oscar.

Long an advocate of the universality of music, Rahman has called on people to be open to all styles, from heavy metal to jazz to hip hop to R&B.

Danny Boyle who won the best director Oscar for “Slumdog Millionaire,” said that he attempted to give Rahman the leeway he needed to pursue various musical forms in scoring the movie.

“I’m really happy and grateful it worked out,” Rahman said.

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