The Long Goodbye: a South Asian win at the Oscars

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South Asians around the world, especially the Muslim community, felt their hearts swell when actor/musician Rizwan Ahmed and director Aneil Karia’s film The Long Goodbye won the best live-action short film award at the 94th Academy Awards.

Ahmed, who is British and of Indian and Pakistani descent, co-wrote The Long Goodbye along with Karia (from an Indian, Irish, Ugandan, and Welsh background), and plays the film’s protagonist.

In The Long Goodbye, we are introduced to a South Asian family living in the suburbs of London, caught up in the hustle and bustle of wedding preparations for their daughter. The family are soon violently interrupted by what appears to be troops of white supremacists backed by police.

It’s not an easy watch. In an interview, it was revealed that The Long Goodbye is “intended as a dystopian future nightmare and yet… feels all too real in these times.”

To which Ahmed replied: “When you make a piece like this, you don’t want it to be relevant. But at the same time, just the act of telling this story is a hopeful act.”

Ahmed’s album, also called The Long Goodbye, features a track called ‘Where You From‘ which his character is seen performing in the short film.

In his acceptance speech Ahmed, 39, said: “In such divided times, we believe that the role of story is to remind us there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. There’s just ‘us’.

“This is for everyone who feels like they don’t belong. Anyone who feels like they’re stuck in no man’s land. You’re not alone. We’ll meet you there. That’s where the future is. Peace.”

This is the first Oscar awarded to both Ahmed and Karia. They are the first writers of South Asian descent to win in the live-action short category. Ahmed was nominated for Best Actor last year for his role as a drummer who loses his hearing in The Sound of Metal.

Watch The Long Goodbye here:

India’s stellar entry at this year’s Oscars Writing With Fire was nominated for Best Documentary Film but lost out to Summer of Soul. Writing With Fire documented the story of Khabar Lahariya, a newspaper run by Dalit women journalists in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

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2022 Oscar winners

The coming-of-age comedy-drama ‘CODA’ (which, incidentally, is the acronym for Child of Deaf Adults) and Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic ‘Dune’ emerged as the biggest winners at the 94th Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theater.

‘Dune’ bagged six awards, all in technical categories; ‘CODA’ made Oscar history by winning the awards in all three categories it was nominated in. It also became the first film from a major streaming platform — Apple TV — to bag the prestigious award of ‘Best Picture’, becoming thereby the first official nod from the Academy to the tectonic shift taking place in the entertainment industry because of the rise of OTT platforms in the Covid-19 era.

Jane Campion, staved off competition from the likes of Steven Spielberg and Kenneth Branagh, to win the award for Best Director for her much-admired film, ‘The Power of the Dog’.

Will Smith, who had earlier slapped comedian Chris Rock across his face over a joke directed at his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, won the honour for Best Lead Actor owing to his performance in ‘King Richard’.

The biographical drama ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’ won two awards — Best Lead Actress for Jessica Chastain and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Ariana DeBose was feted with the Best Supporting Actress award for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’. Best Animated Feature Film went to Disney’s ‘Encanto’. The Japanese film ‘Drive My Car’, an international awards circuit favourite, clinched the title for eBest International Film’.

‘Dune’ got the better of some serious competition — notably from ‘Shang-Chi’ and ‘Spider-Man’ — bagged Oscars for Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Best Sound. ‘CODA’ took home the honours for Best Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur), Best Adapted Screenplay (Sian Heder) and Best Picture of course.

Jenny Beavan was conferred with Best Costume Design for ‘Cruella’, a film she initially almost refused to work on. Kenneth Branagh walked away with ‘Best Original Screenplay’ for his writing in the coming-of-age drama, ‘Belfast’.

Other winners included ‘No Time To Die’ (Best Original Song) for the title track by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell; ‘The Queen of Basketball’ (Best Documentary Short Subject); and ‘The Windshield Wiper’ (Best Animated Short Film).

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