Slumdog Wins Best Picture Oscar
(For GK, Gandhiji & his many avatars, The Gora & Terraferrous)
All ye Bollywood curs, hang your heads in shame because the Slumdog is soon gonna expose you.
An Oscar-worthy gem and the finest movie made in India this century, Slumdog Millionaire (based on the novel Q and A by Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup) is coming to India in January.
Naturellement, as fine a movie as Slumdog Millionaire can’t be from a Bollywood director (although plenty of Indians do feature in this English movie directed by British filmmaker Danny Boyle, produced by Christian Colson and distributed by Fox Searchlight).
Outstandingly executed, Slumdog Millionaire is the riveting life-story of an 18-year-old Mumbai ‘slumdog’ and chaiwallah Jamal (Dev Patel) who happens to win the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire much to the bafflement and chagrin of the program’s host (Anil Kapoor).
Jamal is a slumdog, with his roots deep in the bowels of Mumbai’s slums. Ergo, he must be cheating in some way to get at the right answers. Right?
So this young man is promptly dispatched to the police station where Jamal undergoes what thousands of Indians unfortunate enough to enter the precincts of a police thana experience everyday across the country – merciless thrashing.
When the beatings don’t work, the police inspector (Irrfan Khan) ups the ante telling his underling Srinivas (Saurabh Shukla a.k.a. Kallu Mama of Satya) – A little electricity will loosen his tongue. Give him.
But even the electric shocks administered by Srinivas don’t yield a confession of cheating from the young boy, who resolutely maintains – I knew the answers.
How does young Jamal know the answers to difficult questions that would stump even the most educated Indian. Like for instance, whose figure adorns a $100 bill?
No, we won’t tell you how Jamal knows the answers to some of the most difficult questions.
All we’ll tell you is that Jamal goes on to tell the police inspector an incredible story that is brought to life in an extraordinary manner rarely seen on the big screen in India or elsewhere.
Slumdog Millionaire is not merely a magnificent movie but it’s also the most absorbing portrait of India we’ve seen on the big screen.
And that’s what raises Slumdog Millionaire to the level of a classic – its amazing portrayal of the wonder and chaos and injustice that’s India.
The filthy slums, the abject poverty, the Hindu-Muslim violence, the Bollywood craze, cricket mania, Mumbai underworld, horrific exploitation of young children, the ‘new’ India rising over the demolished slums of Mumbai, police brutality, the call centers, inexplicable goodness in some souls, the packed commuter trains et al – nay, the very essence of India is distilled and captured with unusual verve and dexterity in the moving story of Slumdog Millionaire.
Hey, director Danny Boyle seizes on, and brings to life, even the Indian fascination with Amitabh Bachchan.
A Poignant Tale
Explaining how he answered one question relating to Lord Ram in the Who Wants to be a Millionaire contest, Jamal tells the police inspector in one of several poignant moments in the movie – If it weren’t for Ram and Allah, we’d have a mother.
But Slumdog Millionaire is more than just a sob story. It’s a fine amalgam of the tragic, the comic, the fatalistic and the anarchic elements of life in India today.
Younger Jamal Dazzles
More than the grownup Jamal, it’s the young Jamal played by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, who cast a bewitching spell on us. All of our Bollywood veterans are zeroes before this young boy.
The younger version of Salim (Jamal’s elder brother) is also played with elan by Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail.
Compared to Ayush and Azharuddin, Dev Patel (who plays the grownup Jamal) and Freida Pinto (cast as the older Latika, the love of Jamal’s life) prove to be disappointing.
But even the less-than-compelling performances of Dev and Freida can’t dim the lustre of Slumdog Millionaire for such is the power of the camera, the allure of the story and the depth of the screenplay. And of course, there’s A.R.Rehman’s music as well.
Tired as we are of the endless run of ugly monsterpieces coming out of the Bollywood cesspool, Slumdog Millionaire is that rare masterpiece set oddly enough in the Mumbai cesspool.
Yes, literally in one early scene in the movie Jamal emerges out of the cesspool.
If you love movies as passionately as we do, if those moving images on the big screen in a dark room excites you as much as it does us, if a gripping narrative on the screen raises the hair on your hands like it invariably does to us, go watch Slumdog Millionaire.
By the way, watching Slumdog Millionaire after seeing Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is like using Listerine to get rid of the unpleasant taste of a bad meal.
(Slumdog Millionaire is in limited release in the U.S. now – nationwide on December 19 – and is set to come to Indian screens in January.)
Cidade de Deus vs Slumdog Millionaire
Will Slumdog Roar at Oscars Too? Gets 10 Nominations
Bachchan Bitchin Bakwas, Again
Slumdog Millionaire Sweeps Golden Globes; Thrilled
A.R.Rahman Wins Golden Globe; Hooray
Slumdog Millionaire Wins Best Picture Golden Globe
Danny Boyle Wins Golden Globe for Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire Wins Golden Globe
Slumdog Millionaire – How the Critics See it
More Indians Living by Gutters