New England Malayalee Association’s blog

January 22, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire – a different take

Film National Board Awards

Girish Potti is familiar name for New England Malayalees,  he’s former President of NEMA and recently we saw another facet of his talent here.  Girish watched the movie Slumdog Millionaire recently and he has  jotted down his feelings about this movie and  has some insights on the Oscar awards.  We invite your comments on this as well as any other creative contribution in the form of reviews, articles, story, photo etc.  Incidentally this is our 50th post.  Read on …

Slumdog Millionaire is an entertaining and rivetting movie. We thouroghly enjoyed the fast pace and the creative story telling. A.R.Rahman should have got Oscars and Grammys long time ago. Better late than never; A.R.Rahman rocks!

I am not convinced yet that SDM is a realistic movie and deserves an Oscar. The movie follows the familiar pattern that would get you into Oscar. It sure looks like a set formula for any foreign made/based movie to get into Oscars.

This is the thumb of rule that would get you into Oscar:

1) It should have some weird message – like Gays, oppression, slums or why that foreign country sucks. An uplifting movie like Lagaan/Mother India  will never win at the Oscars.

After seeing the movie, it felt like India is Dharavi. There is a scene in the movie where the Millionaire show host laughs at the notion that a chai-wallah made it to the podium and the audience goes along making fun of the chai-wallah. Really. If there is any place that wouldn’t happen it would be India.

But the movie follows the familiar sure step to success in international forum. Look at all the Indian booker prize winners to see the pattern..The book White Tiger makes India bashing  a science  and guess what – Wins the booker price. Arundati Roy’s God of small things laughs at the petty Indian from outside. Sure enough Booker Prize.

Amitabh Bachan is a national treasure and the way he is adored is unique to India. Somehow the film has managed to give negative connotation to that too as being mindless adulation of a star who is really another movie star removed from the common man. I am not batting for Amitabh.I am just pointing to the notion of how bashing  a cultural icon win accolades outside India.

2) It should have some hints as to why America and Americans are good, for that matter Westerners.

If you look at foreign based movies like Life is Beautiful – It was an excellent movie but what I think really clinched the oscars for the movie is the climax where the americans come in tank and save the kid. Wonder what would have happened if it were to be russians who were in the tank.

Slum dog millionaire has a scene where the kid is mercilessly hit and beaten by a driver and the kid says  – you wanted to see real india, this is what it is – Then the American says – We are Americans and this is what we do and she hands the kid  a $100 bill. That should definetly win at  the Oscars. Does any body is India really have the guts to go into a slum and kick a kid in the face?

I am not taking anything away from the movie. It depicts reality to an extent. But has managed to portray India as Dharavi and also the Dharavi as the whole reality of India. I wonder whether these accolodes would flow for the story of  a resurgent india, or of a patriotic Indian who sees the good in India too. I doubt it but am sure planning on writing a book which would get international accolades.

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