Following a massive haul by the film Everything Everywhere All at Once and an overall huge night for the community, the 2023 Academy Awards shone a spotlight on the South Asian Community, who took home Oscar statuettes in eight categories.
MM Keeravani and Chandrabose (RRR)
SS Rajamouli's RRR, starring Ram Charan and Jr NTR in lead roles, has won an Oscar in the Best Music (Original Song) category. The film's song 'Naatu Naatu' is the song that took home the coveted award. The song, composed by MM Keeravani and with lyrics by Chandrabose, was performed live by its singers, Kaala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj.
During his acceptance speech, Keeravani said, "I grew up listening to 'The Carpenters' and now here I am with the Oscars."
Picking from The Carpenters' track 'Top of the World', he added, "There was only one wish on my mind, so was Rajamouli's and my family's. RRR has to win, the pride of every Indian and must put me on the top of the world."
At this year's Golden Globes, 'Naatu Naatu' won Best Original Song, making RRR the first Indian film to win a Golden Globe. RRR also proved to be a highlight at the 28th Critics Choice Movie Awards with two wins - Best Foreign Language Film and Best Song for Naatu Naatu.
With his roots in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Daniel Kwan was responsible for wins in three categories, after his film Everything Everywhere All at Once (EEAAO) won best original screenplay, best direction and best picture.
While Kwan shared the first two award with his co-director Daniel Scheinert, the third was shared with producer Jonathan Wang, who’s late father was from Taiwan.
Praising his parents for their sacrifice and inspiration and addressing his son, Kwan said, “You rearrange my DNA everyday…You should never have to live up to this standard. This is not normal. This is kind of crazy. I will love you no matter what.”
Both Kwan and Wang became the first American-born Asians to win in their respective Academy Award categories.
Guneet Monga and Kartiki Gonsalves
Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga's Netflix documentary The Elephant Whisperers won an Oscar in the Best Documentary Short Film category. The documentary’s director and producer, Gonsalbes and Monga took centre stage to accept the coveted award, where the former gave a moving speech regarding the motivations behind the film and dedicated the award to India.
During her acceptance speech, Kartiki Gonsalves said:
“I stand here today to speak on the sacred bond between us and our natural world. For the respect of indigenous communities. For entity towards other living beings, we share our space with. And finally for co-existence."
Monga further took to her social media to talk about the historic win and she also shared a statement regarding the same.
Monga took to Instagram to thank her friends and family. She also went on to write, "Tonight is historic as this is the first ever Oscar for an Indian production. Thank you Mom Dad Guruji Shukrana To my Co-Producer Achin Jain, Team Sikhya, Netflix, Aloke, Sarafina, WME Bash Sanjana. My lovely Husband Sunny. Kartiki for bringing & weaving this story"
Ke Huy Quan
EEAAO’s Ke Huy Quan bagged the Oscar for best supporting actor and spoke of his experience as an immigrant who fled the war in Vietnam as a child. In a heartfelt and emotional acceptance speech, Quan said, “My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp and somehow I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage.”
Addressing his mother, he said, “My mom is 84 years old and she’s at home watching. Mom, I just won an Oscar!”
Quan was a child star who grew to fame after he played Harrison Ford’s sidekick in the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom but subsequently gave up on acting, attributed to the lack of substantial roles in film for Asian people.
His return to the big screen was with Everything Everywhere All at Once in 2021, for which he also won at the Golden Globes, Critics' Choice and SAG Awards.
"For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof to dream big and dreams do come true," said a teary-eyed Michelle Yeoh in her acceptance award at the 95th Academy Awards.
Yeoh not only won the Best Actress award for her phenomenal performance in the sci-fi fiction Everything Everywhere All At Once, but also created history as she became the first-ever Asian woman to be honoured with the award.
Michelle Yeoh, who has been vocal about the struggles faced by immigrants and people of colour in the industry gave an inspiring speech that despite setbacks, 'dreams do come true'.
In her speech, she addressed women and said, " Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you’re ever past your prime." Michelle while dedicating the award to her mother added, "(To) all the moms in the world, because they really are the superheroes and without them, none of us would be here tonight.”
Judy Chin became the first woman of Asian descent to win an Oscar for make-up and hairstyling in The Whale, joining legendary Japanese makeup artist Kazu Hiro, who was the only Asian man to have ever won in the category.
Chin, alongside Anne Marie Bradley and Adrien Marot, transformed best actor winner Brendan Fraser into a morbidly obese English teacher for the film.