Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is The Honeymoon Over??

I went to watch Slumdog Millionaire last Tuesday. With all the shiny golden awards that the film bagged, I and KT went in with a lot of expectations. 

We hated the fact that we missed the first 2 minutes of the movie. All settled into our seats, we began the journey of Slumdog. I infact quite liked the portion where they extensively show Dharaavi and the kids navigating through the mysterious lanes and by lanes. Then in a very small period of time comes a series of things that any foreign eye thinks is quintessential India - Gallee cricket matches on runways, policemen chasing slum kids, the fan frenzy for Amitabh, the communal riot, the bad beggar gangs, childhood love, if anything was missing Danny Boyle completed it with the last dance number in bollywood ishtyle Jai Ho....though Kudos to AR Rehman for the fantastic music. 

Many might think that I have a problem with foreign directors like Boyle showcasing only the worst of India. But trust me I have no such issues, I am not ashamed of saying or seeing what is my own (I know, i can say this easily, as I don't physically belong any of these spaces), and if I get awards and fame for it....what could be better. But if anyone is to ask me, whether or not I liked the movie....I would say, it was just OK. A mediocre film for me, that did not really transport my movie watching experience to something I had never experienced before. I perhaps wanted to like the movie, so much, that I felt guilty for getting bored. Since then, I have spoken to quite a few of my colleagues, friends, and family who watched the movie and each one of them is a little dissappointed with the fact that the movie was just OK for them too. Why so? What went wrong with the movie releasing in India, when it won such high remarks outside?

To give a very amateur opinion, I think, the whole content of the movie is for a foreign audience, who finds shock and surprise at the sight of a place like Dharavi, seeing all that makes a slum in India. With kids fighting their own way to adulthood, with a child being exposed to the malice of the grown up world, they watch all this in awe and perhaps feel pity. I think, it is all very unrealistic for a foreign eye and therefore, they enjoy experiencing something out of their own worlds. But for us, there is nothing new, we see such scenes everyday. This is where, I think, the movie fails. 

For us, it is a way of life in India. Many of us may be even want to do something to help them. But still we very much accept the fact of their existence and the conditions in which they live. But for the world of America and Britain...it is beyond imagination, leave apart acceptance, to think of this way of life. I think this is where the movie is such a hit outside of India. Talking about cinematic brilliance, I could not really find many of such moments in the entire movie. It is more or less like a very good documentary cinema, if we can place it in that genre. May be the end dance & song number was only to make the audience feel that they were watching a mainstream cinema, may be even the love story was there for this very reason. Though, personally for me, it completely lacks any spark, chemistry, or even reason :)

But I do give points to Danny Boyle, Dev Patel, Freida Pinto for surviving India and Dharavi without a scratch. Also, I think, I will give points to Dev Patel and Freida Pinto for going on and on giving interviews about SDM, without stopping to think...hellos people, you literally had no role in the movie....I am angry that Salim has been completly forgotten...

What I love in the movie is the way, the kids have acted.  Hats off to whoever made them act so naturally. I love Salim's character in the movie, it is the best developed character in the film. I think....more people should be talking about the kid, the guy, and the character who played Salim, than the typical NRI looking Dev Patel, whom if you want you can completly ignore in the movie, or better place anyones face instead of his...and the movie will make no difference at all.

All this said and done, I think the Honeymoon is over for SDM atleast in India! Also, I think this will make no difference to the Oscar nominations or results. Big deal, if the movie is all about India....and a bigger deal if it wasn't really a hit in India, who cares....let's lobby for the film...since very few Indian(ummmm, if we can call it that) films reach the Oscars.....three cheers for Oscars....hip hip horray!


15 comments:

Anonymous said...

But Let's root for Rahman?
For he is Indian (born and brought up)

And Let's root for him for undoubtedly and unfairly, oscar gives a global fame.

Let's root for Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan and Saurabh Shukla, who all were were a part of the film.

What about the idea, the story that you can rise from rags to riches...let's root for that?

TO TOUCH THE HORIZON said...

i have not seen the movie yet and plan to do so this weekend, going through your I felt one thing, is india all about beggers and slum dwellers...i am an optimistic...but why only the dark side of india is shown to the world by writers and directors who try to portray india...and then bag a pulitzer or a golden globe.....is India all about such things.

wasted said...

@Anonymous - yah, sure let's root for everything Indian. But frankly speaking, what would we root for Anil Kapoor or Irfah in the movie? They were used or rather misused as Dummies? Give me a clue and I will root for that :)

@Horizon - I know, many have felt that way about being portrayed unfairly. But you might want to remember, the rich Worlds of America & others already have seen enough of the good stuff. And India still remains a mystery with all its 'dark shades...'

myriadmind said...

i had no clue you had a post on this
better expressed i feel...
Keep the juggernaut rolling...

wasted said...

I felt the same when I read your post of the same...better expressed I mean

Amalendu said...

very well written...you perhaps expressed what I felt,, and many more who have seen the movie would have felt....The kids part was the most interesting and of course I liked the questions of Crorpati of which I would have failed miserably to answer...The kids part reminded me of Raj Kapoor's boot polish with very interesting songs (specifically the Hum matwale....). I liked the way you critique the film without being positioned in favor or against.

wasted said...

@ Amalendu bhaiya - The Bootpolish comparison is really nice and interesting. Yes of course who can again forget the songs :)

shock said...

I have just one issue. Why in the name of crap are we bothered about the Oscars anyway? It's a Hollywood thingy for mainly American films. Its a very prestigious thing ..again for mainly Maerican films. Why other countries care for that is beyond me. Just coz America is the superpower, does that mean that their awards are the most valuable? Who says? Why this hype? When in hell's name are we going to come out of the colonial ass-licking mentality?

wasted said...

@shock - in the end of my post...I was exactly trying to mean the same thing by sarcastically cheering for the Oscars

Anonymous said...

Because...Lets face it. The whole world don't watch the FilmFare. Why begrudge them their international fame? Anil Kapoor in Yuvraaj might have been misused too, but then the whole world dint get to See that. (Anil Kapoor was Brilliant! in SM) Can we forget (of course We cant) the indian -- colonial -- slum -- are we really like this -- debate. Live Global guys! And don't be a hermit crab. Also, @horizon "is india all about beggers and slum dwellers..." Yes it is!!!!! you and i, the bloggers are a mere minority.

wasted said...

@Anonymous - To begin with just a very petty advice, it would be nice if you could be a little more coherent in what you say going forward. Anger and quick reaction only shows your frustration and ends up messing your language.

Secondly, no one is grudging them any international fame. I just want to repeat what I said, "I think Anil Kapoor and Irfan are far more talented than the cameos they have done in SDM. They could have been better used.

Thirdly, let us not really start a debate about being global and being a crab hermit. Because, honestly I and many like me could go on and on about defending both the standpoints.

Lastly, I agree India is surely about slums, and poverty and all that goes with it.

Since, you seem really aware and concerned about India and the poor lot of Indians...I would suggest go back to your agenda about Going Global...because Going Global will have a lot of adverse effects on all that is quintessentially Indian.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your concern about my language. Someday soon we are all going Global...and it is not going to hurt any one's oneness. India's indianness, sweden's swedishness will not be hurt or lost. Going global will entail more knowledge about each other's culture and how can that go wrong?

Buny, Only ignorance harms.

Nilamber said...

happy to read that one more supporter of the movie. thank god there are less Arindam chhoudary type pepole who just hate to hate and justfy there hate. Each fram of the movie unforgettable. just great movie...

wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing....


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wasted said...

@ Anonymous - whoever it is, you seem to know me. So, why don't you just spell out your name as well.

Just a point - with globalization also comes mis-using the wealth in an un-equal manner. Though I am no economic major, but I do understand one effect of the big G would be adversely affecting the farmers of our country, the indigenous tribes that thrive for sustenance would be wiped of their space & exist in places like Museums...development has its own hazards...not that I personally have anything going global, i work for a multinational...but just for the sake of argument