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February 12, 2002
Vivek Fernandes in Mumbai
The excitement was intense at Aamir Khan's Bandra residence in suburban Mumbai.
Sitting with him were his wife Reena Dutta, Lagaan director Ashutosh Gowariker, and a roomful of friends and well-wishers.
They were all glued to Star Movies' coverage of the announcement of the 74th Annual Academy Award nominees. As Lagaan's name was announced, a roar of triumph reverberated through Aamir's home.
Ashutosh exclaimed exultantly: "Ho gaya! Thanks to you [Aamir], yaar! We are in, we are in, we are in!" Even as Aamir and Ashutosh accepted felicitations on the phone, they were hugged by the happy well-wishers.
With a smile in his voice, Aamir spoke exclusively to Rediff.com: "I was extremely thrilled to hear Lagaan's name being announced."
He said the first phase --- which involved ensuring that Lagaan was nominated --- was to make sure that the 600-member strong Oscar Foreign Language Committee watched the film. There was no extraordinary strategy, he said, adding, "All I did was try to make sure people went to the theatres to see it. That was the only lobbying I did. My only desire was to get people to see the film; I left the rest to Lagaan. I knew it would work its magic.”
Now that Lagaan has been nominated, Aamir will focus on the members of the Academy. About 6,000 members of the Academy are eligible to vote for the winning film from the list of nominations. The only condition is that a member who wishes to vote for any particular film in a particular category must see all five films in that category.
Aamir Khan Productions (AKP) is now expected to move into phase two of the marketing strategy. Ashutosh and Aamir plan to do whatever it takes to make sure Lagaan will make it to the top.
The two were expected to leave for the United States on Wednesday, February 13. They will now leave after a couple of days. The AKP team is, at the moment, meeting at Aamir's residence to finalise the marketing strategy for the countdown to the Oscars.
Lagaan will be re-released in the United States for the mainstream audience by Sony Classic.
Meanwhile, reactions are pouring in from other members of the film industry. John Mathew Mathan, who directed Aamir Khan in the popular film, Sarfarosh, says he is "extremely thrilled" for the star. "I am extremely happy for Aamir," he told rediff.com. "I hope the film wins the Oscars. It deserves it."
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