Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Hope. Despair.

Faith. Cynicism.

Cruelty. Compassion.

Treachery. Sacrifice.

Filth. Purity.

Slum. Taj Mahal.

Greed. Generosity.

Traitor. Saviour.

Devotion. Betrayal.

Grit. Sympathy

Innocence. Junoon.

Slumdog. Millionaire.

These are the snapshots that flit across the mind when one sees the film. By now the film has been praised to high heaven (8 Oscars!) and bashed in equal measure. Quirkily, it has been praised and bashed for the same reason--- a westerner showing the ugly underbelly of India.

I don’t understand why we get angry if someone points out our shortcomings-----we turn around and say they have no right to comment on us! We were so hurt when a few years ago, Queen Elizabeth sniffed that Delhi was dirty! Why don’t we do something about it instead of criticizing the person who points at us? We conveniently forget the umpteen Indian films in which the foreigner is shown as cruel, greedy, chasing the pure maiden, in short--- downright evil. To make it worse, we used to depict them by painting some Indian actors pink and sticking a blonde wig on their heads! Stereotypes are always there. Which cannot be said of Slumdog, in any case.

My basic emotion through the movie was guilt-----for being where I am, when such a large chunk of humanity lives in utter squalor. Yet----and this is the high point of the film----they don’t let you feel sorry for them! The two brothers go through all shades of hell, yet they don’t come across as troubled. They are just getting on with their lives as best as they can.

Jamaal is a hero of course, but the character of Salim was more complex. He is fiercely protective about his little brother, yet has no hesitation in taking away what is Jamaal’s. Then again he can easily give up everything for the same brother. A searing portrayal.

Much has been said about how impossible it would be for Jamaal to recognize George Washington, but not Gandhiji. Well, that was the point the show host and the police were making! And all the circumstances were explained, some convincingly, some not so convincingly. I have only one small quibble. We in India are all aware of Soordas. But the film does not explain to Western audiences that Soordas was blind. Long before political correctness found its way into our vocabulary, we were calling visually challenged people Soordas!

Finally, Danny Boyle did succumb to the “Bollywood dream”----he could not resist that last song (Jai Ho) on the railway platform with scores of dancers, conveniently alighting from and boarding the trains!

We are like that only, I guess!

On my reading list: The book this is based on--- "Q & A" by Vikas Swarup.


Blogger Primalsoup said...

So, it wasn't the best music by Rehman or a movie that ought to have got eight Oscars or even the best Bollywoodesque tale of hope and triumph, but I still enjoyed the movie. And the two hours that I spent watching the movie, I had willingly suspended all disbelief, like I would do with a SRK or Rajni movie. Plus, twelve years back, Titanic won an equal number of Oscars. If that could win, anything can :)

23/2/09 7:31 PM  
Blogger Sachin said...

Heyyyyy, welcome back!!! Good to see you back.

And like always, great review!!! :)

26/2/09 2:44 AM  
Blogger LAK said...

Thanx, Sachin!

1/3/09 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Krish said...

Me too, visiting after a long time - my own blog, I mean ;-)

How have you been? Saw your post on Slumdog. Yes, we are like that only :-)

21/8/09 9:17 PM  

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