Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's only an award!

The hype about Slumdog Millionaire can be blamed on many things, but the reality is that we in India are pathetically anxious about international recognition. So today the first five pages of the Hindustan Times are dedicated exclusively to this movie's Oscar performance (with a little space going to "Smile, Pinki").

My (unsolicited) advice to bloggers and assorted talkers is this. If you didn't like Slumdog Millionaire, don't feel bad about it. If you did like Slumdog Millionaire, don't feel bad about it. It's only a movie, and only an award, and we are all free to hold our opinions.

I personally did like the movie a lot. I am dazzled by Danny Boyle's directorial style and was first dazzled by it many years ago when I saw his 1996 movie Trainspotting. As I recently pointed out on Rahul Basu's blog, the jumping-in-shit scene in Slumdog is similar to the jumping-into-a-vomity-toilet scene from Trainspotting and clearly Boyle is using it as a metaphor (this comment of mine provoked Rahul to respond that "Hanging a label on a scene does not redeem it in any way."). As I said, people are free to have their own views.

I was particularly amused, though, by Sonia Gandhi's quote for the Oscar occasion. My interpretation could be wrong but I see it as delicately understating her evident dislike for the movie, coupled with her compulsion as a leader to say something good about India's success. Here are her words:

"I am delighted that A.R. Rahman and Resool Pookutty have won the year's much-coveted Oscars for music and sound editing. They have done India proud, as have all the Indian actors, technicians and support staff who participated in the making of Slumdog Millionaire".

Like the movie or not, it's hard to disagree with this statement. Now if only all our politicians could express their opinions so neatly.

I can't resist pointing out that the movie has achieved something rather striking and unusual. An Indian upper-middle-class hungry (desperate?) for international recognition has finally achieved it via a movie directed by a non-Indian (and whose "Trainspotting" clearly shows it is not India per se or slums per se but human degradation and the human response to it that fascinates him). Moreover whether we like it or not, it has thrust slums into the limelight, somewhat messing with years of our callousness, hostility and downright hatred towards slum dwellers. For causing such acute social discomfort in our evolving country, the movie deserves a special plaudit.

8 comments:

Rahul Basu said...

"...it has thrust slums into the limelight, somewhat messing with years of our callousness, hostility and downright hatred towards slum dwellers."

Will that make the present moribund, incompetent Government of Maharashtra sit up and take notice? Methinks not, despite the much longed-for departure of the incredibly ineffectual Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Sunil Mukhi said...

Obviously a movie like this (or any other) wouldn't work on the Government! Least of all the wonderful Government of Maharashtra!! But if it contributes a tiny bit to forming social opinions, that would be welcome.

It may even happen that Mr Nicholas Almeida, the social activist who named his dogs after Danny Boyle et al, will one day decide to rename them!

Ramanan said...

lol on your comment on Nicholas Almeida. Maybe we should start calling Indian politicians Seatdog or Kursidog.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Hi Sunil - Came by your blog on recommendation of Sury and I'm glad I did. Do add a 'follow me' button -makes it easier for your 'fans' :)

Corinne

Sunil Mukhi said...

Corinne: Thanks, and I'd be happy to add a "follow me" button if only I knew what that meant!

Parenthetically, I recall Stephen Hawking saying "most physicists would consider themselves to be logical positivists, if only they knew what that meant". Turns out he was wrong, though...

Corinne Rodrigues said...

'Follow' is a gadget offered right here by blogger...if you visit my blog you'll see what I mean. :)
Corinne

Cheeta said...

I think the "Follow Me" button (which is a Blogspot feature) is already added to the Tantu-Jaal main page - those who aren't already "followers" will see the button in the left column, below "About Me" and "Blog Archive" ("followers" will of course the pics of those who are already following Tantu-Jaal).

Sunil, you don't need to do anything, except perhaps tell your friends (and relatives, and others) about the button...

Sunil Mukhi said...

Cheeta: It's there because I added it following Corinne's suggestion - just a few days ago!