Oscar Czar Slumdog
Slumdog Millionaire will go down in history as the one film which has taken India on the centre stage of world cinema like no other movie has done so far. It is true that there have been many good films that have come out of India and there have been some truly great filmmakers whose contribution to the world of cinema is second to none but one has to acknowledge the role this particular film has played in drawing attention to the immense talent that is available in this country. In a way it has opened windows of opportunity for some of our gifted actors and technicians and other creative people to get on to the world platform and work on a bigger canvas.
I have personally never considered AR Rahman the best composer India has produced but I have no hesitation in conceding to the fact that he has popularized Indian music before a wowing global audience like no other composer has done. The West has always had a great fascination for Indian music and one can recall how the Beatles, arguably the most hailed Western musical group, drew inspiration in the late sixties
from Pandit Ravi Shankar. George Harrison even went to extent of learning how to play the Sitar. The great Allah Rakha would always leave Western audiences mesmerized with his percussion wizardry while
playing the Tabla. Ustad Vilayat Khan was again undeniably the greatest Sitar player who enthralled audiences all over the world.
Back home, amongst famed musicians, to me there was no one like Shankar Jaikishen.
However, without any question, credit goes to Rahman for increasing the reach and sweep of Indian music like none of his predecessors.
He has the distinct advantage of being familiar with the rudiments of ‘western music appreciation’ given his stint at Trinity College.Plus, the layers of Sufi strains, seamlessly rippling in his compositions, give his creations a distinctive edge. His score in the movie, as Lata Mangeshkar put it, Post Oscar Awards, was immensely appreciated since it was very contextual to Slumdog. Hats off to him many times over,
he, having put the country on the map in more ways than one. Rahman’s music has also propelled Gulzar , the first Hindi Song Writer into international limelight.
Resul Pookutty, also a relatively unknown artiste-technician with immeasurable talent, has brought the tricolour fluterring high on the winning podium. He has shown that Indian technicians, once they
operate on a large canvas, can successfully compete against the best of the best in the world. His work in other films, Gandhi, My Father and Sanwaria too have been noteworthy.
However, I have the gotten the feeling that Slumdog Millionaire has evoked many jealous responses from Bollywood where many film makers such Mukesh Bhatt have tried to attribute its success to the movie
being produced and directed by foreigners. Some have gone as far to say that the movie was in the reckoning because it showed the underbelly of India and Westerners could connect with the depiction of
poverty in Bharat.
I, for one, do not agree with any such argument. I personally found the movie really outstanding and thought it completely deserved the awards. I had seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in New York
and had found certain aspects intriguingly appealing. Slumdog, though, has the potential of connecting extensively with more people. It is a movie based on a novel by Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat and has
everything Indian about it. The setting is apt and it does not show our poverty as much as it reflects our reality. India, after all, Shines only for the Few and not for the Whole. For it to Shine for All, we have to with relentless collectivity put in endless effort.
Reality must be recognised. Say when you go to a doctor you have to lay your precise symptoms on the table (warts and worse) for the good doc to come to a hopefully curable diagnosis. Similarly, if we only
see the limited developed side of our country, we will never be able to address its real maladies. We must not go by fudged empirical data to showcase our achievements without caring to look at the country’s
underbelly. Incidentally, in the movie, the underbelly was in the background of a great narrative that unfolds subsequently.
There, perhaps, maybe some flaws in the film (like there are in every movie) but by and large, it is one movie India must acknowledge. For the Jealous-Ones who are going hoarse crying from their rooftops that
its success is due to a British director, I have only one thing to say: Danny Boyle has been able to portray with a painter’s swift brush the theme on hand. Cinema, music etc is about Talent not Nationalities. I am sure that the great Indian Cinema Czars such as Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor must be quite content ‘up there’ with the Slumdog’s success story.