Saturday, February 28, 2009

Slumdog Oscarpati!!

Slumdog Oscarpati!!!!!!!!

Slumdog Oscarpati!!!!!!!!

And the Oscar goes to ..... Slumdog Millionaire!!!

Well finally it happened. A Oscar to a film made in India with all Indian actors. An when it rains here, it pours, literally. So when Uncle Oscar came to India, he did not come alone, but bought an entire gang with him.

Now with the number of Oscars that have been awarded to the movie, I think it should be rather called Slumdog Oscarpati!!

Well, we Indians have a snobbish way of putting things. We do not appreciate the work done by our fellow people, unless it is appreciated by the West. In this case it went the other way round. Since the people in the West appreciated Slumdog, people in India are smelling rats and fishes. Here are some of them:

How can a movie as ordinary as Slumdog Millionaire win 8 Oscars?

Why was Rahman given Oscar for this movie, he has done much better job elsewhere?

If it was presented as movie made by Indians, [formally for the Oscars Slumdog was a British Production] we would not have won the Oscars?

We are selling our poverty to get the world attention.

The film makers exploited the child actors. Did not pay them lot of money, but made loads of money themselves.

The film is anti-Hindu।

The film portrays India in a bad light.

The movie did not deserve the Oscars.

The Oscars are a ploy to enter into the lucrative Indian movie market by the Western people.

etc. etc. etc.
[No matter how long a list I make, there will be always some objection/criticism that will not be included in this list. Is this is a consequence of the Godel's incompleteness theorem?]

Given all the objections that are raised, I think the movie should have not have been made. It would have been better, remained as the book Q & A which it was written by Vikas Swarup. The criticisms fall into three categories as I see them

1. Actors and media people, who did not get a part in the Slumdog M.
2. People who smell conspiracy in everything that they hear/see.
3. Indian people who have an inferiority complex, who think that Indians are not good at anything.

I do not have any grudges against any of these people, but I will be presenting my point of view over all these objections. After all, this is my blog.

There is a tirade of media people criticizing the content of Slumdog, as it glorifies the poverty in India. But is this not true? Are there no people who are living in India, with exactly the conditions or even worse that are shown in the movie? Just visit to a nearby slum, and see for yourself. So what is so wrong in depicting what is actually present there? Its not as if all of India lives above poverty line and the movie is falsely depicting the people living in poverty. It is no fiction.

Have no films been made in India which depict the poor? If that had been the case, one might have agreed to the criticisms. But then this theme is not at all alien to Indian cinema, a poor protagonist is a goringly boring theme, is it not? What hurts us is the fact that some firang and not a desi has done this. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Of all the actors that are criticizing the movie, including Amitabh, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty amongst others, would they have dared the same if they thenselves had acted in that movie. Do they ever dare to criticize the movies that they work in? I can smell something burning. Given a chance most of them would have jump at offers from overseas, and it would be considered prestigious for them too, then why this farce?

As for Rahman, yes I know he has done much better work elsewhere. But, then, good music also needs other good things in the movie to make an impact. Personally if you ask me Dil Se is one of the best works he has done.

Cinematography wise the film is brilliant. Period. Though while watching the movie, sometimes I felt faint traces of the Cidade de Deus [The City of God] running among the sequences and camera shots.

Also lets not forget another thing, that there is no point in comparing the movie with the movies which were made before and won the awards. The movie needs to be compared with the movies that it was competing with now, not with all the great movies that were produced world over before. How many times does it happen that a movie certainly deserving an oscar, did not get one. When there is more than one movie which is good, certainly there are hits and misses. Definitely we have much better movies made before Slumdog M, but then it did not compete with them before the award. So we have to compare Slumdog M with the movies that it was competing with now, not all of the movies made before it. And maybe it was the best of the lot, for this year.

Also if we are taking the film apart as we have done, we are not doing any justice to the actors in the film, who gave their efforts for the characters that they were playing. Was that all part of the bigger conspiracy?

Has not this production brought some deserving youngsters to the fame in international cinema? What about them are they not happy for that? Ask them and you will know the answer...

Now the second group. There are two types of people in this world, one who find conspiracies in everything and others who find conspiracies only in somethings. I think I myself fall in the later category.

Some people think this is a propaganda by the Western people to proliferate the Indian production houses and reap the profits from Indian audiences. But why do they need to come to India for that? I mean lot of english movies made without any reference to India or Indians involved in the production have done quite well in India. Remember Titanic?

The others especially, the Sangh Pariwar people see this as a conspiracy to defame hindus. Well, where is that they do not see a conspiracy to defame hindus? All the media [national and international] is against them, well except what they themselves publish [I think sometime later even that might go against them ;)]. So it is no surprise to me that they see this as conspiracy. O
The following quotes from here summarizes the sentiments of the Sang Pariwar.

Every art whether it be the mad jehadi painter Hussain portraying hindu godesses in the nude and obscene posters or the slum dog film portraying hindu gods and hindu customs and blackening the image of hindus and hindu gods or the novels of Arundhtai Roy and Arvind Adiga maligning hindus, their culture and traditions and their parents, become instant hits since enemies of hindus are national and international and sadly national media exaggerate every bit of it.

And another one from the same source:

The film is a plot made by the Americans to despise the Hindus. This is also one type of war. The film should be banned in India. just like De vinci was banned in India. The film is seriously affecting the sentiments of Hindus before International flora. Alas! there is nobody to protect the sentiments of Hindus.Srirama and srikrishna were shown as villains.Godhra riots were shown unnecessarily. The hero , a slum dog could identify the figure on the dollar but not Mahatma Gandhi on Indian currency.

Well Americans? AFAIK the Brits would not like to call themselves Americans. War? Where is that you people not see war? If war is against all Hindus [who technically speaking I am], I don't quite agree to it.

The film is seriously affecting the sentiments of Hindus before International flora.

Which Hindus I may ask? Those who are already a part of the Global/International brigade of the Sangh Pariwar?

Srirama and srikrishna were shown as villains.

Well Sri Rama did play a part in the film, but Sri Krishna ? Well I think director forgot to portray him and I am sorry on his behalf. But then we have millions and millions of Hindu gods, why did you not depict them all? And as villains, I doubt it.

Godhra riots were shown unnecessarily.

Well, where the hell is Godhra shown in the film? The riots portrayed are the Mumbai riots, which happened at least 10 years before, please do watch the movie before you comment on it.

Why was the dude a Muslim and the dame a Hindu. Both should be Hindus! This is a [film about] Hindu nation!!

So far so good. Apart from religious zealots there are people who also smell fish in Slumdog M. But this is a different kind of conspiracy. The overall structure of this is like a communist propoganda. Financial gains. For the producers of the film. Well don't the producers want the financial gains from the films that they make? It is a business for them, is it not?

This is a British ploy to enter in to Indian film industry. So be it. If the result is going to be better movies, I am all for it. So where does exploitation of the poor child actors come? If at all Slumdog M did not became a hit, will such a hype be made about this? How many struggling actors are present in Mumbai, who would go to extremes for just landing a small role in the films, let alone getting being underpaid? Success has a lot of enemies. If at all directors and producers knew what film would be always a hit, why would anybody make a movie which would eventually be a flop? Are there no flop movies in the world?

Anyways these are my views about this whole Slumdog Business, lets see what happens next...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dev D

Dev D

Saw Dev D. Had heard it and about it. Had seen it in parts, now completely. Liked the movie and the posters [they are really good too]. The story is based on one of the most [ab]used characters in the Indian cinema. Just think about the dying scene in Bhansali's DevDas. I can't stand it, but I know many who adore the performance of the King Khan in that film. Sorry. I can't. Period. It's [rather he's] not my type. Have seen the older Devs too. But, nonetheless, found them boring too. What is that fascinates directors, actors and the moviegoers to the character of DevDas. What is in the character for everybody, that again and again the character resurfaces with the cream of actors each time.

Abhay Deol has done really good work so far, I mean he is definitely much better than his two cousins. The choice of the movies that he has made over the years, and his portrayal of the characters tells his story. No need for me to certify. But the character of Dev played by Abhay is the most brilliant one he has played so far. From a boy who has everything in life in his grasp, including Paro, love of his life, to a DEVastated Dev, who is lying waste on the streets of Delhi, the journey itself is the main theme of the film and also the essence of Dev's character.

Why is that what we desire is just within our reach, but we can never reach it?

The teasing is always there...

Life is like a juicy, ripe fruit just out of our reach.

Dev has Paro [Mahie Gill], but is unable to take her. Mahie Gill plays the role of Paro well enough. The rustic charm of a गवांर jaat babe, is present in her character and in her. The thought that she has shared herself with someone is unbearable for him. This is where the first explosion is shown. The breaking of bottle on the head, is where Dev unleashes himself, from the bonds of Paro. But the bonds are too strong, to be broken. The farther she goes from him, more intense the attraction is [F = -kx ?]. Why does the thought of sharing the one you love with someone [or even something for that matter] else is just unbearable? If this was not true lot of world's problems would have not arisen. But this is the tendency of the human mind and the human kind. True as Mr. Smith says, we are like a virus [ Do viruses have a mind?].

I love thee not, therefore pursue me not.
- William Shakespeare: A Mid Summer Night's Dream

Dev tells Paro, what he does not want to, its just a few moments of hate and rage, during which the silent bitterness comes out. This is one of other problems of life, you cannot tell a person how you excactly feel, the feeling is always within you, but somehow it does not find an exit. The feeling remains within you, becomes a part of you, does not depart, for there is nowhere for the feeling to exist outside you. And when you make a decision to talk about it, something else comes out, something that is not planned at all, something which has no meaning, but can be quite devastating and this is what Dev does. For me this is the "emosional atyachaar इमोसनल अत्याचार" of life. This is where Anurag Kashyap is brilliant. If it was any others formula film-maker, the scene would have had required gallons of glycerine. Dev is oblivious to the fact, even when told explicitly that he also did [ the same to] Rasika, that its the same thing Paro did. But obviously as for any self loving, self indulging person the standards for the self and the others are not the same. So is with Dev, a promiscuous Paro is not acceptable for him ...

Would a promiscuous lover be acceptable to you?

Paro more stronger than before [and definitely more than Dev] and "moves on" with life. Even when promiscuous, she has an absolute love and is mad about Dev. Dev is her first and true love. But after the Dev-debacle she first reluctantly and then whole heartedly takes the new life that comes to her post-Dev. But post-Paro Dev has no where left, so he goes to Delhi. When he is unleashed he is all around but no-where in particular, like the mists of Delhi. Life for Dev, becomes a psychedelic experience for us. The life revolves in circles in bottles of vodka, fumes of smoke from cigarretes, and the ATM. The hotel room which he lives in is a sort of mirror of Dev's own life, chaotic, orderless, yet we are somehow strangely attracted to it.

And the one encounter with Paro in Delhi, Dev again loathes her. Paro still down to Earth and still caring about Dev. [Is caring for somebody same as loving them too?] Paro does not stop his advances, but neither does she give any encouragement. [This can be really frustrating, believe me.] On the other hand, the imagery of Paro doing it with her [superman] husband is too much for Dec. This is surely इमोसनल अत्याचार.

Can you bear to see your loved one in someone else's arms?

So he again bursts, Chunni is there to handle him. And guides him to Chanda.

Enter Chanda [Kalki]. As a daughter she has "disgraced" her family and her father kills himself in shame. But Chanda emerges stronger, from all this. Post-MMS, she lives a double life, one of a prositute [A commerical sex worker if you prefer] and one of a college student, thanks to Chunni. Chanda makes a point when she says that, what right do they have to call her a slut, when they all watched "it". The character of Chunni identifies Dev as an appropriate candidate for the business he runs. In Dev, Chunni finds the ideal customer. And in Chanda, Dev finds the traces of lost love that he is looking for.

Though initially Dev loathes Chanda, she persists, in his life and his outbursts. A bond develops between them, which gives, if only vague, aim to Dev's life. So there is some relief from the Vodka bottles, but this is short lived too. Dev again unable to bear Chanda doing it to another man, walks out, literally. Again the psychedelic trance life begins. The relfections on the aviator that he wears is now his life. The neon lights of the nights are what Dev sees all around him, life is like a roller coaster ride, which only goes down, always speeding up, never slowing down, but which gives Dev a high, a high to rise above all the troubles life has presented him with.

And here we [all] wander in illusions.
- William Shakespeare: Comedy of Errors

Now that Dev has a BMW, the life speeds up. The life and the BMW gets a hit, literally. The accident scence is another brilliant stroke by the director. You would otherwise see tankloads of blood and dozens of dummies being crushed by the car... But here you see the accident from Dev's perspective, after all this film is about Dev. The scene is as it would look when you are in non-drivers seat and Dev is in drivers'. The deaths are just like bumps you would feel on a bad road. [Maybe they _are_ bumps for Dev on a bad road of life.] Overwhelmed by the experience he [rather his system] just crashes. Dev is in hospital. And in all this turmoil Sattu is dead. So Dev gets bail to attend the funeral. While coming back, Dev just runs away from the harsh realities in waiting for him back in Delhi. Dev escapes to the Himalayas, maybe seeking a nirvana, maybe just running away like a coward. Finally, his health forces him to come back to the coarse realities in Delhi.

... my pride fell with my fortunes.
- William Shakespeare As You Like It

Once the cash reserves are all gone, Dev takes to the streets literally. Paro is nowhere, neither is Chanda. Dev is and has lost. He desparately looks for Chanda, not Paro mind you, but she is nowhere to be found. Roaming aimlessly on the streets of Delhi, finally Dev finds Chanda, or is it the other way round? Anyway the end is a welcome relief from the other who followed the original DevDas blindly, without any brains good enough for their own interpretation of the story.

The story _is_ loosely based on Devdas, the novel.

Final rating 4.8 out of 5. Must see.