After Slumdog Millionaire made waves at the Golden Globe awards and then shocked everyone by bagging 10 nominations for the Oscars, everyone was eager to see what it had to offer. I generally do not blog about matters other than music even though I am a movie freak who does watch most of the good Hollywood films and international films.
I was thrilled to hear that A.R Rahman whom I admire, as does the whole of the nation had not only got a golden globe but also had bagged 3 Oscar nominations! This motivated me to see the film. But all my expectations were in vain! Slumdog for all it’s media hype is just another run of the mill, Bollywood movie, the only difference being that it’s directed by a british born Hollywood director. I would not say it is utterly bad. It is just an average film, especially for us Indians who are used to seeing such films right since Bollywood films have come into existence. For all the senior Indian actors in the film, their roles would have been a cakewalk as they would have been doing such roles since very long. It has the same story line of any typical bollywood film. Brothers separated after parents die and then an old childhood love separated and then reunited after many years, the underworld, and the red-light backdrops etc. I think that the only reason why Slumdog is there is in Oscars or has got the Golden globe awards would be that it was directed by a well known Hollywood director. If the same film was to be directed by an Indian, it would not even have been seen by anyone outside India. Either this proves that this is the downfall of world cinema or that this is going to be the state of things to come. Anyway this year amazingly there are no many strong contenders for the best film category, other than The curious case of Benjamin Button. Has Hollywood started losing its hold? Have they started seeing our masala movies with songs, dance and the like? Or is it that the jury would have never ever watched a typical Bollywood film before in their whole life except for Slumdog and then were so pleased to discover the beauty of Indian slums? Or does it mean that if the Oscars were for world cinema as a whole and not for Hollywood films alone, Indian films would have won several Oscars in the past? For me who has seen the likes of Gone with the wind, Ben Hur, The sound of music, The Ten commandments, and recently, A beautiful mind, Gladiator, Road to Perdition etc. the fall from glory is evident. I feel that even The Revolutionary Road was a commendable movie though it got only a single nomination. After watching Slumdog it’s hard to comprehend it’s entry for the Academy awards! Mumbai today is not what as is shown in the film. All the images from this film have already been shown in hundreds of Bollywood films in the past. Danny Boyle may get all the acclaim for the film for being the first person to force the jury to see the first Hollywood film in a typical bollywood style and get away with some Oscars, but it would be an insult to the likes of Satyajit Ray’s, the Aravindans, the Adoors and the Nihalanis, who have produced enough quality films to make a mockery of the Oscars. They were not watched by the Oscar Jury, just because their medium was in a language other than English!
As an Indian, speaking on the nominations for A.R.R and Rasool Pookkutty, I would be the most happy man if A.R.R and Rasool, win their Oscars and I believe A.R.R will definitely do so as out of the three nominations in the best song category, he has two! And if he wins then it’s going to be the best thing to happen for Indian Cinema as International recognition is long due for our little Mozart from Madras! But I strongly believe that A.R R has done even better in many films in the past and Slumdog is definitely not his best. Even the songs in the films are like any Bollywood movie songs like Chak De or the like and do not go to the high standards that ARR has set for himself in films like Bombay, Fiza, Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, Water, Fire, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose-The Forgotten Hero or recently Jodha Akber or so many Tamil Films. He should have got the Golden globes award or the Oscar for his music in many of the Indian films he did. Even the song in the film comes in the end and is disconnected from the story. I also find that A.R R has turned too much to Techno (computer processed and generated sounds) in this film than in any of his other films. Definitely this is not one of his bests, even though he deserves all International recognition for what he has done for Indian cinema. He is one of the very few music composers who listens to lot of good world music and can easily score music for any Hollywood movie. I would be happier if he uses more of original Instruments in such scores. I cannot be blamed as there is no musical part in Slumdog which stays in my mind after I leave the cinema hall whereas, I still carry the themes from Taal, Lagaan and Rang De Basanti in my heart.. Speaking of Hollywood films, the background scores from The Godfather, Star Wars, Jaws, E.T, The Omen, A Beautiful Mind, Titanic, Gladiator, A Road to Perdition and recently The Revolutionary Road (Both by Thomas Newman) etc. are still fresh in my head. In spite of all this I wish and pray that our own A.R.R and Rasool Pookkutty, get an Oscar for India, as this is the best shot Indians would ever get at the Oscars in the coming years!