Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jai Ho!!

So much is being said/written about Slumdog Millionaire so I didn't want to left behind and as you all can see the deadline is fast approaching(Atleast one post per month), so why no take a dig at the most discussed topic after Kasav and Ramalinga Raju.

As I write Rahman has already won two Oscars and a 'little known before' Rasool Pookutty from God's Own Country(I also play the regional card once in a while) added one to his belt. And the 24 hour TV channels are showing their acceptance speeches ever since. So much so that every kid who is exposed to the Idiot Box knows the speech by heart and also knows that India is proud for some reason.

We have had mixed response for the movie with some liking it very very much(dont know how many switched sides after the Oscar glory) and the others bashing it. Lets take a look at what the critics of the movie said: they labelled it as a 'Poverty Porn', 'India shown in poor light','India has much more than the slums' 'This film degrades India' 'This is getting all the notice just because a westerner made it' etc etc.

So much so that some bigwigs of the Indian Film Industry started bashing the movie even before it got released in India. And adding on some statistics the Hindi and English versions of the movie did not do good in India in terms of financial numbers. I will tell you one the main reason, because it was available on everybody's thumb drives.Pirated copies of the movie was available everywhere. And it did not cater to the otherwise dumb Indian audience, it did not have edge of the seat action sequences. The protagonist gets beaten up, his girl gets stolen and all he does is go back to his normal life and participate in some quiz contest. There were no item numbers. The hero heroines werent well known and they wore pretty disgusting costumes throughout the movie. And the movie had no real songs. Such a dampener for the teeming populace which hits the movie hall every day, expecting some masala for three hours, so that he can forget the bad bad world outside;his own miseries and enjoy the money he has spent on the film ticket. It should have lots of emotional stuff like hero bashing up all the ones who comes his way, stealing his girl, dancing and singing like never before on every given opportunity, some skin show,and lived happily ever after climax.

Well this is my take on the movie, it was a good movie, its certainly not the best and I wouldnt compare it to other Oscar Winners like a Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind or the Million Dollar Baby etc. It was different, the topic was different, it was about Mumbai, the financial capital of India,one of the fastest growing economies of the world which also unfortunately houses one of the largest slums by the name of Dharavi. It showcases much more than mere poverty, it outlines the optimism, it also shows that Mumbai has developed and that the slums are now replaced by huge multifloored apartments.
So what made the movie a winner? To name a few, the movie has been shot brilliantly and the performances by the kids are a revelation. It captures the India which how much ever we may deny exists. The music by AR Rahman has been a masterpiece for over a decade now and to think that this in many ways is not his best music, is to understand that the talent we have in our midst. The movie showcases 'HOPE' the new buzzword in town, the buzzword that catapulted Obama to the reigns of power in the US. The word that keeps us all going in these troubled times. The recession and all the gloom thats prevailing, everyone could identify himself with Jamal, the hardships he undergoes(albeit it may be in a different in everyones life) and could appreciate the way he comes up trumps finally because of the experiences he gained during these hardtimes and due to dame luck and how he reclaims his love and fame.

Why dont we realise that there is so much in the movie thats Indian apart from the actors and background? It has a familiar Bollywood movie theme, boy meets girl, they fall in love, they get separated and years later they meet and reclaim each other, there is also a song and dance sequence at the end of the movie. Half the movie is in Hindi. May be its just the case of sour grapes.

And as to the argument that we wouldnt have won the Oscar or the recognition if any Indian movie director had made this movie, I have only this to say, we couldnt have made such a movie. We were bound to put in some unwanted masala somewhere in our bid to cater to the Bollywood audience and this is where lies Boyle's winning formula. He adapted a Indian story written by an Indian, shot it in the locales of India, acted by a hoarde of Indian actors but keeping in mind the audience of the West and hence the accolades.

100 plus awards is no mean achievement and here is my thumbs up to the entire cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire. Hope we finally utilise our potential and make movies keeping in mind the World Audience.