Monday, January 12, 2009

The Underdog Slumdog!!

I finally saw Slumdog Millionaire and I am cursing myself that why did I read the book first! It took the whole suspense out of it. Though the movie's screenplay is very different from the book Q&A and it is a great adaptation, I still knew most of the things. The plot of 'The Three Musketeers' and Latika as Jamaal's childhood friend doesn't exist at all in the book. Instead in the book, the hero falls in love with a prostitute Sapna when he visits a brothel and there is also a 'Sholay' type ending to the book with an element of a biased coin which was the defining moment of the book. Yes, there are limitations of a movie but the book was better. But still as an independent movie, Slumdog is a wonderful movie. The screenplay is absolutely brilliant. Danny Boyle's direction is excellent. The most beautiful thing about the film is the exceptional performances by the child actors. Dev Patel and Freida Pinto are good but clearly the child actors stole the show!! There is no doubt about it. The film exposes the darker side of our India, a Mumbai which we do not want to see. The horrific claustrophobic conditions in Dharavi, the world's largest slum are shocking. The community toilets, the huge mounds of garbage, the narrow alleys where sunlight doesn't ever enter, the chawls show a different face of India. The genius A. R. Rehman's great music score!! well, what to say about it. He deserves another post.I loved that tune which goes something like this 'Ring ring ringa, ring ring ringa, ringa ringa'. He has already won the Golden Globe, the first by an Indian and clearly a favourite for the Oscar. Shobhaa De in her blog made some comments that after Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali, the world's attention will shift to India. It is India's time. With Shah Rukh Khan being invited to present an award for the Golden Globe, it is recognition of the Indian film industry which makes the maximum number of films in the world.

I would have been more happy if an Indian had made a film of this type. It takes us a foreigner to show us the underbelly of Mumbai. But I still feel that the film is not a complete representation of India. It is just one aspect of it. Sometimes I feel the world doesn't want to see India's growth story, I may be wrong. They want to see it as a the stereotyped land of jungles. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga which was a bad book did not deserve the Booker in comparison to Amitav Ghosh's brilliant Sea of Poppies and Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence (which did not even get nominated for the Booker!).The White Tiger is also a story of a person from the Darkness, a euphemism which Aravind uses for poverty stricken villages. But no doubt, the film is great. Slumdog is the Underdog for the Oscars. Watch it. My rating ****.

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