Oscars night was full of surprise victories, with the South Korean film, “Parasite,” making history with four wins. And while the ceremony, held Feb. 9 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. was hostless, just like in 2019, a ton of celebs added stardust to the stage as presenters and performers, including Indian American actors Mindy Kaling and Utkarsh Ambudkar.
Kaling, glowing in a floor-length one-shouldered Dolce & Gabbana gown in yellow with Chopard jewels, presented the Academy Award in two categories: the best animated feature film, and the best animated short film.
But before announcing the winner of the best animated feature film, she shared that as a “shy” young girl from an immigrant family, she found comfort in animated films, and that animation is one of the most sophisticated forms of storytelling.
“I can’t wait to introduce those worlds to my daughter now,” Kaling said before announcing that “Toy Story 4” was the winner. “Hair Love,” which shows how an African American father succeeds in styling his young daughter’s hair, won the best animated short film award.
Interestingly, Kaling told Variety that her necklace was “identical” to the one they stole in the “Ocean’s 8” movie.
She shared with E! News that the Chopard diamonds are being protected by a security guard.
“I cannot lose this necklace. The diamonds, right?” she told Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet. “I have to make sure I don’t lose these, I don’t trip, I don’t flub any names. I will tell you this, there is a man here, a security guard to make sure that nothing happens to this.”
Ambudkar was one of the night’s performers alongside talents like Elton John, Janelle Monae, Cynthia Erivo, Idina Menzel and Billie Eilish. He made the most of his Oscars moment, delivering a power packed freestyle rap recapping the first half of the show, and leaving many wondering, unfortunately, who he was.
Ambudkar, wearing a suit that gave a subtle shout out to his Indian roots, addressed that off the top of his performance, saying even though he’s been around for a while, he is still relatively unknown.
“This is incredible, I do not belong here,” said Ambudkar. “You don’t know me. I am Utkarsh. Movies, I have been in a few. Broadway too, but you still may consider me new. But anyway, I am here to recap the show, for I am seeing a bunch of nominees who don’t look like me.”
His rap included nods to several of the night’s winners like Brad Pitt, “Hair Love” and “Toy Story 4,” and performers like Monae.
“First up, Janelle let us know who we been coasting/Chris Rock dropped in ‘cuz he ain’t hosting,” he started off after his introduction. “Mr. Pitt, congrats on winning your trophy/now please make a sequel for World War Z.”
He also used the opportunity to credit Kaling for representing South Asians in Hollywood. He made a reference to John Travolta’s Idina Menzel flub from the 2014 Oscars.
“Heard an amazing singer, nobody colder / Her name is Idina Menzel, Mr. Travolta,” rapped the actor of films like “Basmati Blues” and “Brittany Runs a Marathon.”
The Oscars crowd nodded their heads along with Ambudkar’s rhymes and Questlove’s music.
“Been a long time trying to be colorblind/What you see right in front of you’s a sign of the times,” he continued.
Ambudkar, a member of Freestyle Rap Supreme, an improv-rap troupe started by Lin-Manuel Miranda with Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale on Broadway, ended his performance with “Keep an open mind, I’m sure you’ll find/there’s plenty of light for us all to shine.”
Indian American filmmakers Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan’s “St. Louis Superman,” a 28-minute documentary on former Missouri Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr., was one of five nominees in the documentary short subject category, but lost to “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl).”
Meanwhile, Indo-Canadian YouTuber and talk show host Lilly Singh, a vision in an all-white outfit, posted a photo on her social media that showed her munching on chocolate chip cookies on the Oscars red carpet because “let’s be real…this show is long, and I need snax.”
Watch Ambudkar’s performance here: