Friday, January 9, 2009

Slumkutta Crorepati

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.

40 comments:

Oxy said...

With all due respect to Boyle (only cuz I haven't seen SM yet) I beg to differ that our film-makers do not have balls enough to make such a movie. Wonder why it boils down to testicles (balls) cuz film-makers with bigger balls like Mira, Anurag, Rituparno, Mani Ratnam (and not to forget the newbies like Navdeep, Sriram, Amol) have made some fucking mind boggling movies which I see you definitely chose to ignore by generalizing the whole damn scenario

Hobo ........ ........ said...

Most of the time in the job, the discussion was about money & money, forget script. I have to quit.
Till date, I am trying to understand what comes first and last, script or money ?

Kaber said...

Dude, Oxy they have...

Haven't watched the movie yet, heard very good reviews, similar to Shobaa's

Have you heard this. Its like this anti terrorist song. really good.

Amol said...

The movie was great!!
But was the real life host of KBC similar to one shown in the film??

@lankr1ta said...

I think this film strikes us more because it shows poverty without sanitizing it Hindi film style. And Hindi films need to sanitize poverty because of the guilt that reality evokes. We need it for sanity maybe- to pretend that poverty is not the gut wrenching cruel thing that makes people maim children to earn a few rupees more - to pretend that poverty is not such a dangerous horrible world- to be able to breathe as we watch India shining coexist with real India.
A very astute analysis Ms De.

onKIA said...

M'am 'De,
I have had the opportunity to watch the movie and I totally endorse your views and comments. It's a movie that a mumbaikar will understand better than any one else. Nevertheless Danny Boyle has given it an International audience. Vikas Swarup's credit is due for writing Q & A which got translated in 33 languages and created an opportunity for getting this an International perspective.

About the film makers in India there's no doubt that they are caught up with so many limitations and perspective.

I know when Mr.Boyle was shooting in Mumbai he shared a secret of production guy always carrying a bag of Indian currency at all times and all places instead of running around with last moment permissions.

Vinod Agarwal - All's well that end's well.

mememememeee said...

I haven't seen this movie yet. I live in the UK and am counting down the days till I can drag someone to go with me to the cinema. I have heard so many good things about this movie (including what you have said) so here's hoping I am as enthralled.

Did you hear the great news? At the Critics Choice Awards last night, Slumdog Millionaire won 5 of the 6 awards it was nominated for. It is truly getting the recognition it deserves.

Spontaneous Mini said...

why slum Kutta Crorepati??
translate the slum as well.
ChwaalKutta Kottipotti.
it makes.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

Interestingly some bollywood film makers have called it a "generic western movie about India". That makes me giggle at thier audacity.

Naach na jaaney aangan tedha!

Ram said...

Hey Shobhaa,

Three days back only, I get to see your blog. Just browsing through the sites and bumped into ur blog. Its really nice to be here on your blog..I follow all your columns in TOI. You always dare to say things (which are true) that people don't like thats what makes me to follow you. Any way to cut a long story short, Your blog entries and the contents are nice..Keep doing the good work....

Digistrom said...

My initial impression was that Slumdog is just an over-hyped, well marketed (still true) flick, but after reading your take on it I'm really looking forward to catching it.

Anorak said...

Friends, don't make up your minds either way until you actually watch the movie. And please swing by to read my take on it.

divesh said...

another 'white tiger' born in a generation...

Sathyanarayana said...

The Slum Dog millionaire
Shows the world that even before US could elect Baracka Obama, we have a long history of childrens of different religion,skin and color co-exists in India. It's the very own country, where a mosque,Temple and church exists in same city within the vincinity.
The movie was brilliantly made and handled and sensitive issues of children were properly told. Cuddos to Tandon- the co-director for her effort to expose the Really Mumbai. Few years back the Mumbai home minister was planning to build the Shangai type High building flats to accomodate very poor people of slum. Every one was happy for that. Later nobody heard what happened next????

Sathyanarayana

Mahadev Kapuskari said...

Hi.. shobhaaji,
I have not seen the movie yet.But to read comments on your analysis is more interesting for me.because you also handle so many sensitive issues perfectly.

Ramnarayan said...

Yeah, your right. None of the filmmakers in India can match with those western men. Yeah, they need to upgrade their balls from desi to angrezi. ;-)

desi balls always suck
angrezi balls always rocks!

Dreammaker said...

I don't find any reason to compare this film with Traffic Signal..or..Corporate..or..Metro..
Slumdog has grabbed the attention for many reasons like a angrez director has realised the desi realities..and a desi music director have created an international music..
The film has a good script with great cinematography and has a story to tell about Mumbai..but that does not mean that all Indian directors are nuts..who cant make any sensible films..
Was Satyajit Ray a nut?
Slumdog is good...but not the best..who will disagree he / she might describe the reason also..i would love to hear that..

eye-in-sty-in said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eye-in-sty-in said...

err... There was an Indian co-director involved who goes by the name of Loveleen Tandon! She ensured the scenes portrayed captured the true essence of the Bombay slums and also the rest of India - people travelling on top of trains... etc!

Pushkala said...

I disagree!!!! Even our film makers have made wonderful movies like that of SM.. May not be on the same story line. (and I'm sure they would continue to....). May be you didn't have the time to recollect some movie names that I'm sure you would have admired.

oo7 said...

one of most entertaining flick i watched !

loved it totally


as you said.. Slumdog is a diff class.
actually at least 20-30 times far better than ghajini..

tc mam

Deepak Murthy said...

Hi Shobha,

I'm reading your posts & attending law school at the same time. Growing long hair & breasts as well.

My blog is at www.communitiesblogger.blogspot.com

in case you need to reach me.

Regards,
Deepak

romulus said...

your statement that desi filmakers create amateurish films is fairly dullard. it is what the population predominately wants to see as a form of escapism. clearly you have lost touch with the people whilst floating around in your ivory tower.

Anonymous said...

Slumdog is a word in english, and using Slumkutta word is just disgusting. . . .

Raj Walia said...

Last night, I was watching Golden Globe and was really looking forward to A.R. Rehman's nomination. And I almost jumped out of the couch when they announced him the winner. It was a proud moment for me, for him and for One billion people back in India. You made us proud. You have taken Bollywood to a new level. God Bless you!

I personally did not like the subject. Why do you want to show the cruelty and torture? Why these goras (americans, englishmen) like crappy movies? The torture and cruelty stuff? Now, its been nominated at oscars and has already bagged many awards. What is wrong with the world?

Certain parts of this film do become interesting and capture the imagination, like when the brothers landed at the Taj Majal and instantly recognizing a business opportunity, became tour guides and entrepreneurs, stealing shoes, selling them for money, learning to SURVIVE! Amazing how quickly children can become little capitalists.

In first part of the film, kids have acted so good. They stole the show. Thumbs up to them!

But still "Slumdog" is too disturbing to be considered entertainment. Just there is so much of torture and violence in this world, does not mean you can cram it down our throat.

Please STOP. Do not come to India to shoot movies like these. We are much more than that what you think we are...

-RAJ WALIA
(New Jersey)

ankur kakkar said...

awesome maaam..... this is the best movie review i have ever read !! hats off to you shobhaa maam....

ankur kakkar said...

i watched 'slumdog' in stunned silence ... this line resonates on everyone's minds i guess !! drawing inspiration from you, i shall be attempting to write a review on my blog soon...

PS : maam your ability to gather points is unmatched , i really look forward to the day when i can atleast aspire to write like you !!

thanx maam...

Abeer Varan Dey said...

I haven't watched the movie yet but I find the exhibition of Indian poverty worldwide and it winning top awards disconcerting. As it is, the world can see nothing but India's poverty. Never mind that researchers say that once upon a time we were one of the two richest regions in the world. Foreigners mock Indian poverty or make it a tourist attraction (touts arrange tourist visits to city slums). Has the Indian civilization broken down to the point of reveling masochistically in the exhibition of its present day miseries?

I don't know about lots and lots of Indians, but for me, the only recognition that will matter is when India develops once again and it is known for its development.

Chiranjib Mazumdar said...

hmm... I guess I need to watch the movie!!!

Cool4u said...

Madam De
How did you see the movie when its not even released in India yet? Have you been abroad lately?

vikasgupta said...

Cool4u has asked a good question! Shobha ji, did you see a pirated copy like me?!

Rakshith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am an Indian living in UK. I was quite surprised to see SRK dressed like a clown. And in a news channel here, he said he was here to represent India. What was he thinking when he wore a tie the way he did. I think next time India sends someone to prestigious ceromonies like GG, they need to be careful about whom they send. And the way he spoke on stage...he said something like pelvic thrust, way to go Boyle..etc.it sounded like some college day programme. He must be used to the Indian whistles and cheering when he opens his mouth in India. But in an international stage ,he should act with dignity and pride. Rahman was brilliant, he was dressed decently ,spoke less ,but made sure he displayed his pride being an Indian. Why cant India send some geniouses like Nasiruddin Shah or Anupam Kher as representatives who speak, dress and act much better than a clown like SRK?

pari said...

SLUMDOG IS AN UTTERLY RACIST MOVIE MADE TO ASSUAGE THE RACIST WHITE EGO AND WHAT BETTER WAY TO DO IT THAN ENJOYING OTHER PEOPLE'S ( WOGS ) POVERT AND MIS-FORTUNE IN SUCH TERRIBLE TIMES OF CREDIT-CRUNCH. GET REAL SHOBHA. THE BTIRISH ARE ABSOLUTE MASTERS AT THIS GAME OF PUTTING INDIANS DOWN.

Renuka said...

"Kahan 'Metro', 'Traffic', 'Corporate' etc etc aur kahan 'Slumdog..." We are separated by leagues and oceans" Eh??? They're such different stories..and its people like us who, (like you mentioned in another blog) prefer to see the "rosy picture" that the industry caters to..

Deepak Murthy said...

Hi Rakshith,

Thanks for your very original comment on SRK. Yes, I did dress up as a clown in "Yes Boss". Any problems in UK?

Regards,
Deepak

Sanjeev said...

There were so many things wrong about this movie - for crying out loud, they can't tell a Rama from a Krishna; no one can tell us why suddenly in the middle of the movie, two kids from the slum are talking in a strange English accent; none of the characters are developed fully; with some lazy acting and dead-pan dialogue delivery I can't believe the actors of Slumdog are sharing the stage with the likes of Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet; worse than all, having listened to Rahman from his 'Puthiya Mugam', I found his score jarring and unnatural. Have people not seen films like Maniratnam's Bombay or Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay, or read Rohinton Mistry's Fine Balance? Finally Shobaa, to see the innards of Dharavi, you can see Thotta Tharani's art direction in Nayagan or step outside your Rolls Royce. To make a movie like Slumdog you don't need balls, you need a billion-pound bank account, and a busy PR team.
Sanjeev
London

Sumitra said...

You know I am teaching these children, in fact Younger version of Salim and Latika are studying in my class so with keen interest I went and saw the movie, in spite of knowing the children's background I teach, I could not digest the cruel fact that how they live and the hardship they go through for survival.

sir m00ng said...

Oscar Special... :-)

-----

Subject: Fwd: FW: Danny Boyle planning to make 'Princedog Billionaire' next?
Date: Sunday, February 8, 2009, 11:37 PM


Danny Boyle planning to make 'Princedog Billionaire' next?
http://www.bbc. co.uk/shropshire /content/ articles/ 2009/01/09/ bollywood_ previews_ slumdog_feature. shtml

After the moving story about a slum kid winning millions on the Who Wants To be A Millionaire game show and its success, Danny Boyle has embarked on a more ambitious 'Princedog Billionare' film.

The story revolves around the real life story of the death of People's Princess Diana and her ill-fated boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed. Unlike the true story. Dodi Al Fayed in survives the car crash and rises with a vengeance to become the first Muslim prince of England with the help of the People's princess!

Dodi Al Fayed, son of Harrods Departmental Store chain owner Muhammed Al Fayed an Egyptian immigrant who strikes it big in England and grows to become a billionaire. His son, Dodi Al Fayed who grows up in the slums of London, also beats the odds of racism and rises in life.

The people's princess Diana is lost almost suicidal after being cheated by her husband the prince for another woman, when she meets the humble Dodi and falls in love.

But as luck would have it, it is frowned upon by the scheming royal family and the equally scheming English establishment. An assortment of henchmen and henchwomen from Mi5 eventually plan an accident in Paris tunnel to kill Dodi and the people's princess.

James Bond is sent by Mi5 to assasinate Prince Dodi and Princess Diana. James Bond actor Daniel Craig, who plays the role confesses "I always wanted to play the dark side of James Bond and Mi5 in a movie". "And Danny Boyle provides me with a perfect opportunity for that in Princedog Billionaire" adds Dainel Craig.

The accident is planned in a Paris Tunnel and the stage is set to be blamed on the chasing papparazi and executed by none other than James Bond 007 and Mi5. However, things dont go exactly as planned by James Bond this time and he ends up falling into the trap he set for Dodi. "This is one movie where James Bond doesnt come off beaming" quips Daniel Craig.

This is the turning point of the film and the story takes a twist from the true story of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed's car crash in a Paris Tunnel.

Dodi and the people's princess are rescued by a sympathetic papparazi who reaches on the spot and pulls them out of the crashed car. After a nearly two month struggle for life, Prince Dodi and the People's Princess eventually survive. Desperate to fight against the injustice done, they decide to reach out to the people of England to challenge the English royal family and the English establishment. In the process he also chastises the wayward prince 'Potty Harry' to give up racism.

An almost fairy tale like rise after his accident in Paris tunnel along with the people's princess, Princedog has all the ingredients of Slumdog's success recipe, though dollops more of it!

Prince Dodi's rise in Princedog Billionaire is comparable to the rise of the slum boy in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Prince Dodi starts off in a humble way in his approach to the people, but eventually becomes a phenomena in the country. The people of England embrace Dodi as the 'People's prince' along with the people's princess Diana. Prince Dodi is eventually designated as the next heir to English crown instead of William as he has people's mandate.

The Music for the film is composed by John Barry of James Bond Music fame. Daniel Craig plays the dark side of James Bond in the movie. However, despite the success, the winning star cast of Danny Boyle of Slumdog are missing from this film. Loveleen Tandon is missing from the direction and A R Rahman will not be composing music for this movie. "The cast and crew of Slumdog are not comfortable with English culture." says Danny Boyle. "I will recreate the magic of Slumdog in Princedog with a new set of crew altogether" says a confident Danny Boyle. "I may chose Dev Patel to play Prince Dodi, but the hunt is still on for an actress who can portray the people's princess Diana" concludes Danny Boyle.

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