Danny Boyle has not made a movie.... he has made history. I watched 'Slumdog Millionaire' in stunned silence... I was entirely unprepared for its impact... benumbed by its content. This is cinema at its most powerful - searing, raw, brutal and honest. So honest that there are times you can't bear to watch... and yet you are unable to tear your eyes away. Mumbai's ugly secrets stand exposed... its many wounds are displayed right up there, for the world to see. One part of me said, ''I wish he hadn't made this film and stripped my city so cruelly.... revealed its nakedness..." The other part was protesting.... wildly protesting. I hated Boyle's portrayal of Mumbai .... felt protective, felt betrayed.... but also felt the truth. Which is why it hurt. Continues to hurt. There is no exagerration in Boyle's depiction. Mumbai's underbelly is as sordid as shown. Gangsters control India's most glittering metropolis.... the underworld's tentacles are everywhere - from child prostitution to supari murders. Boyle has exposed this underbelly in a manner that makes one squirm, cringe, reject and reluctantly accept - Mumbai is not for the faint hearted. Neither is this film. And if you can't stomach some of the scenes - too bad. Don't flinch. Don't look away. This is Mumbai meri jaan. Where kids watch their mother being hacked by communal forces and flee the bloodbath, only to come back to the same spot again. This time as a part of the evil force themselves.Redemption?? Who knows what this is called. It is chillingly authentic - we see the same kids each time we step outside our home and they come up to the car window, begging piteously.... getting shooed away. We rarely meet their eyes or 'look' at them. These are the street kids that grow up to become petty criminals, syndicate bosses, politicians (!!), dons and killers.
Boyle tracks them with precision.... surgically analysing their trajectory from the most miserable of Mumbai's slums (Dharavi's innards are photographed graphically..... poetically) to the time, Jamal, the protagonist, wins two crores in a quiz show. That's Mumbai, too. Anything is possible here. There are countless Jamals waiting in the queue for their turn to come ("mera number kab aayega?"). For some, the wait isn't in vain. During its dying moments, 'Slumdog...." offers hope and solace for the wretched of the city. In that sense, it is deeply moving, even philosophical in what it is saying.
Strange. It took a foreigner to penetrate the facade and show us who we really are. All those desi filmmakers who win awards and parade as geniuses for making amateurish, derivative movies that pretend to tell the asli story, should use 'Slumdog..." as a reference point.... an education. Kahan 'Metro', 'Traffic', 'Corporate' etc etc aur kahan 'Slumdog..." We are separated by leagues and oceans . Technically , Bollywood is already there. But that's where it ends. Our scripts and stories are pathetic.... and worse, most ideas are stolen or 'borrowed'. Which is why none of the present lot of top bracket filmmakers in India can ever aspire to get anywhere close to 'Slumdog...' They simply don't possess the errr.... testicles.... for the job.