Friday, December 26, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

I would be remiss if I did not mention that I was one of a grand total of 7 Indian graduate students at the AMCs on a late saturday night. Some eager to watch a movie everyone was talking about, some just for the score and others with nothing better to do. Why do I bring this up? Because leading up to the movie I had a nagging suspicion about why this movie was so well received and however much I tried I could not drown out the 'foreign director in India' spiel that is as loud as the 'bright colors' that we are purported to enjoy. India is a subject that most directors in the west would salivate over. The triumph of innocence, the exuberance in squalor, the never ending spirit that drowns and resuscitates us -an Ajith-esque scenario. Not unlike that joke about throwing his captives in liquid oxygen; the liquid wouldn't let him live and the oxygen wouldn't let him die.

Danny Boyle, is a master at merging stark worlds together. A dark comedy of errors featuring heroin junkies that was Trainspotting is now a cult classic. Every person with an email account would have received that forward about choosing this and that appearing at the beginning of the movie in a screenplay tour-de-force. Two disparate worlds mashed together and capturing the chaos that would naturally ensue takes a special effort. That is essentially Slumdog. I do not intend to go in to the details of the storyline but essentially, it's not the large stash of Marijuana that the protagonist is after, but the heart of his childhood sweetheart.

Finally, in true Holly-Bollywood fashion, this is a movie after all, Jamal gets his Latika, the villain dies and everything is hunky dory. Everyone rightly cheers AR Rahman's wizardry. Movie done. A burlesque so cleverly disguised to make the west and the guilty expat weep. Followed by a vegan sandwich and a chai latte at the Panera Classic. This is terrible, I thought. This was poverty tourism at it's barest.

Through the travails of my life, our travails are our own, I constantly comfort myself that life is more than the sum of it's parts. Boyle in an almost literal interpretation, places the lead Jamal in the aptly named 'hot seat' of a game show. Every question is a haunting reminder of Jamal's terrifying past. A past shared by many millions at home. Who hasn't broken a window in a game of gully cricket and run away whilst being chased by a corpulent watchman? Who hasn't seen the safari suit clad businessman with his fake Ray-Bans sizing up an opportunity with his satchel safely ensconced in his armpit as he spits any remnants of his after-lunch pan to his side? Who hasn't been a vagrant foraging in the garbage dumps whisked away to be used in a begging racket? Who hasn't been inducted into tragedy hall of fame?

Who hasn't?

1 comment:

  1. yes yes most manipulative it is. but if it wins oscar and all ill cry off.