Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kebayas and Crowns

I woke up with a headache – I was feeling the after effects of the champagne and the wine. I was in the afterglow of last night’s celebrations and my spontaneous acceptance speech. Next to my bed, the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay reminded me of the thrill of winning an award for telling the story of a global reunion of close colleagues. More importantly, it was validation of the strength of the relationships that were established in the innocence of our youth in the 80s. Despite time and space, we had been able to pick right up where we had left off, even though all of us were now parents with children almost the age we were when we had formed the close bonds of friendship.

Who would have thought that when I initially penned my diary of events since the auspicious trip to London that it would become a movie script that would bring together a constellation of stars. As director, Clint Eastwood was able to bring to life the emotion, laughter and quirkiness of each of us. Halle Berry played Iranthi Anandappa to perfection, even getting her “Yah” expressions interspersed so effectively.

I had wanted to play my own role, but Reese Witherspoon’s convincing performance made me realize that it would never have been such a Box Office hit without her. Her sense of stylish elegance combined with her bubbly personality brought out all the subtle nuances of my mischievous personality. She had won her second Academy Award for Actress in a lead role. Halle Berry had won her second for Actress in a supporting role.

Colin Firth was an excellent selection to play Jeremy Soertz who had a confidence with a soft aura of endearing arrogance that was more charming than offensive. I must admit that my initial trepidation about George Clooney playing Prince Kamalanesan was eradicated when Clooney brought out Prince’s “aw shucks sincerity.”

Yes, Clint Eastwood’s casting was spot on. Aishwarya Rai as Maya Daniels, Jim Carrey as Fabian Rooff. Charlize Theron as Becky Wambeek. He even managed to get Shahrukh Khan to play the role of Siva Ramachandran. Khan had turned down the role of the game show host in the blockbuster Slum Dog Millionaire, so the fact that he signed on for our movie was beyond belief.

My reverie was interrupted with my phone ringing off the hook and my Blackberry was signaling the flood of emails. I realize I need to get my coffee so I can focus on the time differences in the various parts of the world and call each one of SQ Eighties team who had made the reunion possible. This award was for each of them who inspired the story.

We were the Royal Flush … all the high value cards in the same vein. Although we were each different, the unifying factor was our common interest in doing the best job we could. We didn’t compete with each other, yet we helped each other succeed. We shared our successes and our disappointments. We had the best time of our lives – unfazed by whatever was going on. This was before TV, the digital age or the Internet. Our entertainment consisted of any kind of get together – lunches, dinner parties, picnics and playing pranks.

As I held the Oscar in my hand again, I smiled thinking back to 2012—the year Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 60 years of wearing the crown as Monarch of Great Britain. It was the year that started the global reconnection of the Colombo Singapore Airlines staff of the eighties. The era when the Singapore Girls of Colombo wore their Kebayas with pride and the team embraced the airline’s motto “In Pursuit of Excellence.”

And I reached for the phone to call Iranthi to thank her for her encouragement to develop the script that eventually became the blockbuster movie that earned me my first Oscar and the thrill of working with Sir Elton John on the lyrics for the songs. That was the crowning moment of my life because it doesn’t get more Royal than that!

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