Monday, January 19, 2009

Watchdog Millionaire

I finally managed to watch the much talked about “Slumdog Millionaire”- the movie which has captured the attention of all and sundry. It has received its share of bouquets and brickbats- while it has been critically acclaimed and swept almost all the awards (most notably the Golden Globe) and is a definite contender for the Oscars, it has also invited the wrath of many, especially Indian celebrities who inspire a million Bollywood dreams. The movie rocks, but much of the brouhaha generated can be attributed to the controversies it has stirred- as they say, there is no such thing called bad publicity.

If you notice carefully, the secret to critical acclaim is no longer a secret. There is a definite method to this madness in the name of art- the global audience and the critics love to hate India, they derive a perverse pleasure in India’s squalor, its sleazy underbelly, its slums, corruption and dirty politics, it has a feel-good factor for them and elicits a pseudo superiority complex. Sex sells, but so does the rickshaw pullers of India. And if you are smart enough, you will find a way to make money and fame out of it- “City of Joy” hardly had any element of joy in it, “Shantaram” exploited Mumbai with immense success and the latest kid in the block Aravind Adiga made it big with his Man Booker winning novel, “The White Tiger”- again a dark portrayal of all that is not-so-great about India.

But as an Indian why are we taking it so personally? You can’t accuse Danny Boyle, the director of Slumdog… of misrepresenting India because whatever the movie portrays is a glaringly honest account of what goes on in the slums of Mumbai. Amitabh Bacchhan may rave and rant in his blog but I am sure Danny dearest is not complaining! We know that Mumbai isn’t only about slums or the underworld or corrupt politicians, we know that it’s only one side of the story and there is more to Mumbai than what’s been shown onscreen, so why give in to this provocation and give the movie more than its due share of importance? Talking about it only adds to its glamour. Why can’t we be a secure and mature audience who goes into the theatre, enjoys the 2 hours of cinematic saga and leave it behind without getting all judgmental or without feeling this sudden patriotic surge of a vindicated citizen? Let the world concentrate on “Slumdog” while we focus on “Millionaire”…

1 comment:

Anoop said...

hi shimonti,i too believe slumdog millionaire is a work of fiction and should not be taken seriously.I felt there is more about the movie than the movie itself.There are a lot of undercurrents which we miss in the first screening of the movie amidst the buoyancy of the film and amazing background score.I for one was moved when jamal and salim's mother is killed in front of there eyes and they didn't know how to react.They didn't weep.Then later i observed how a joyous littile jamal transforms into a submissive and diminuitive character who was left alone by his brother.I was deeply affected by the scene in which jamal meets arvind,the boy who was blinded earlier in the film.He recognizes him and also recognizes benjamin franklin.It is not explained in the movie how arvind managed to do all that.This means that part of story may be a lie which jamal is telling to the inspector.And the unforgettable penultimate sequence in which an old lady identifies Jamal and praises him for winning crores.But she wishes him to win more and not to forfeit.That for me was signature of the movie.So for me movie works for these deft littile touches which makes the movie special and a triumph in movie making.