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Will M.I.A. perform from a bed at the Oscars?
Arthur J Pais

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February 20, 2009 17:24 IST
Last Updated: February 20, 2009 19:29 IST

Whether A R Rahman will take home an Oscar or not, he will make history on February 22, as he performs two Oscar-nominated songs from Slumdog Millionaire [Images] at the ceremony. This is the first time ever an Indian song is presented at the event.

The Kodak Theatre will have a star-studded 3,500 attendees. Out of the three songs nominated this year, the third one is from the animated hit film Wall-E [Images].

There is a lot of speculation about surprise Oscar presenters. Some Hollywood insiders say that Shah Rukh Khan [Images], who presented a Golden Globe [Images] a few weeks ago, will give away an Oscar.

There is also speculation that Sri Lanka-born rapper Tamilian M.I.A., who gave birth to her first child, a boy, last week soon after she performed at the Grammy Awards, will sing or watch someone else perform her part of the O Saya number. Oscar insiders say that they are afraid that she did not have enough time to practice for the event but she would certainly be joining Rahman.

"Her contribution to the song is extremely important," Rahman said. "She was the one who approached (director) Danny Boyle [Images] telling him that she wanted to be a part of the project. Besides, when we were thinking of pushing Jai Ho for the nominations, she urged that we submit O Saya too."

The Independent wrote a few days ago that 'the organisers have allegedly begged the singer M.I.A to perform live, via video link from her bed if necessary.'

Some Oscar observers believe that the song presentations are not really that important. Wouldn't it be interesting, then, if M.I.A appears in an oversized bed, wondered a commentator in Entertainment Weekly.

'I actually really, really hope this cockamamie bed thing happens -- and not just because I like comically oversized/inappropriate beds, like the one Charlie's grandparents live in Willy Wonka, or the one in the so-bad-it's-hilarious Bedknobs and Broomsticks, or the one Lane rides down the street on that episode of Gilmore Girls,' the commentary said. 'Not only would an awesome and strange M.I.A. Oscar song bed be an important addition to this list, but it would also really liven up what can sometimes be the national bathroom break during the ceremony.'

Rahman has spent nearly a week in Hollywood preparing for the event, even canceling his trip to New York to be at the world premiere of Delhi-6 [Images]. Each of the musical items will have just over a minute at the presentations, unlike the four-minute slot in previous years. Instead of the individual presentations, songs will be presented this year as a medley. That did not go well with singer Peter Gabriel, who declined to perform Down to Earth from Wall-E. Some one else will then do the singing.

'I do think it's a bit unfortunate," he explained in a video statement last week regarding the reduction of the time allotted for the song and dance items. 'The songwriters, even though they're a small part of the whole film-making process, still work bloody hard and deserve a place in the ceremony. I'm an old fart so it's not going to do me any harm to make this little protest.'

The producers of the show are serious about wrapping it in three hours. Presenter Hugh Jackman [Images] is fully aware of the mandate.

'I feel like I'm part of something new,' Jackman told a British publication last week. 'I'm part of a new era, hopefully, and history will tell us if we went the right way... they're guiding me in a way that is going to make the show fun and, between you and me, a little quicker.'

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