It was yet another ordinary day in my life with quite a lot of spare-time in the evening. I was in a pensive mood, trying to excogitate a way of spending my time productively (atleast then). Finally, I adjudicated with the routine of watching movies. Yes, watching movies, once an avocation, has now become a routine in my life. This happens, especially, when you are a solitudinarian - a state where the living machines are out working and you are forced to live alone with non-living things! My laptop, now my best friend and entertainer, had quite a few gigabytes of movies. The first one which caught my eye was 'Slumdog ...'.
First, when I saw the movie name, something in me said 'It definitely is an Indian movie'. Bcoz, the very moment you hear words like slum, poverty, beggary etc., you sense something INDIAn in it. Then my mind surfed the fed in data and rightly retrieved that the music was composed by the Mozart of Madras, Dileep Kumar. Aah.. Then, it is worth spending my time. Before watching any movie, I have got this habit of going through IMDB information. Dont ask me why! I would say 'just to ensure if the movie is good'. But the true reason is to register the celebrity names and events in some part of my brain, though most often I am unsuccessful.
I found some names like Danne Boyle, Lovely Tandon, Vikas Swarup, Dev Patel, Freida Pinto (there she is.. the heroine!). It was the time when the movie was released in US and yet to gain its popularity in India. I have seen 'The Beach' by Danny, starring DeCaprio and it was kinda OK. So, without much expectation, I double clicked the movie to open in VLC media player. But, I was taken aback by the way the slum was captured, especially with 'O Saya' at background. I would really appreciate Vikas Swarup for the theme - the questions of the show 'Who wants to be a Millionaire?' being related to the life-story of a slum gem chai-wala.
The film has captured all the pathos of kids-turned-beggars. The film has to be unquestionably appreciated for its cinematic excellence. It is good to see the movie showered with accolades from all sides with Oscars, BAFTAs and Gloden Globes acknowledging its worth. When I speak about beggary, cinematic excellence & Oscar, my thoughts flow to 'Naan Kadavul'. Hasn't Bala shown India-Beggar relationship better than slumdog? Why no Oscar for Ilayaraja? This is another disputable topic. So, I have planned another blog exclusively for this discussion. Atleast I am glad that ARR has become an international icon with some hollywood movies in his kitty.
Ironically, my heart itches with guilt to celebrate the success of slumdog for the only reason - it is not an Indian movie, but just a movie made in India to portray her dark side. It depicts bitter reality such as poverty, prostitution, squalid slums, underworld etc. thereby tarnishing her image. In one of scenes, when Jamal II is kicked by the policeman, finding the foriegners' car ravaged, he shouts 'If you wanna see real India, here it is!'. What a way to gain sympathy from American tourists! Though the films boasts of optimism, there are many out there, experiencing a harrowing life without salvation.
In addition, I recently read in a magazine that Dharavi (the slum where most of the scenes were shot) is included in Mumbai Local Tour Package. Is it something that we should be proud of or that needs to be highlighted? Also, it is pathetic to see Anil Kapoor basking in Oscar shower, though his contribution to the movie was anything substantial. Same is the case with Freida Pinto, who has become Fashion Guru by appearing in covers of Vogue and other popular magazines. These stray dogs are worse than slumdogs. Though this is common in film and politics, I am merely pissed off rather than digesting it.
I do not simply veto the film. But would like to quote that it is high time we perceive the handicaps of our Mother. Let us enlighten everyone around us and take efforts to eradicate poverty, terrorism and other matters which hamper the development of our nation. The hollow message of social justice from the film has been decoded and shared with you. Now, it is time for us to act!