Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rahman, Slumdog & Co

Slumdog Millionaire has won 8 Oscars. Reams of articles have been written about it. And I feel obliged to join the bandwagon, especially since I am an Indian. So here's what I feel about this phenomenon that has flooded at least 4 full pages of my newspaper today (and that's just the main section.)

1) Seriously overhyped. It's an English movie directed by a British director, that has won recognition at an awards ceremony meant for English movies. But the people behind Oscars should be giving out marketing lessons on how to convert such a niche award (globally speaking) to something which has captivated the hearts of people worldover, more so in India.

2) It is NOT an Indian movie. Yet the media here seems to be touting it as such. True, the cast and the technical crew might be made up of Indians, but it is strictly a foreign production.

3) I, as an Indian, am not offended by the content shown in the film. Everything shown in it does exist, from poverty, to filth, to communal riots, yes- it's all true. In fact, an Indian film, Traffic Signal, too had a similar subject central to it's plot (No wonders that didn't have full frontpages dedicated to it). The one-sided depiction of India might be criticized, but there is something called creative liberty.

4) I will not point fingers at our film industry, to ask how come a foreign director made a film on our country and won Oscars for it while none of the people here could. Firstly, the credentials of the Oscars as the ultimate recognition for any movie in the world is questionable. Also, it seems since the film was made through a Westerner's perspective, it appealed to the Western audiences. It is something like a war movie made on the middle Eastern countries, or a human rights movies made in Africa- it caters to the Western cliches. Personally, for me the film didn't work, nor does it seem to have set the box offices on fire here.

5) What it has done, is given recognition to people outside Hollywood, which I think is commendable.

6) Finally, I don't think Jai Ho! is Rahman's finest song. There are scores of songs he has made, which are much better than this. Of course, I am happy for the international recognition he is getting now, but we've been calling him the Mozart of Madras much before Jai Ho went from being political party workers' favorite words to a mainstream refrain. Some of my favourites are Azeemoshaan Shahenshah (Jodha Akbar), Jungle mein bole (Taal) and Yun hi chalaa (Swades). My current fav, of course, is from Ghajini:

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