Slumdog Millionaire: great cinema ?

Why did Slumdog Millionaire win so many awards ?
a) It is a brilliant movie
b) It is made by Danny Boyle
c)It is a well made movie
d) It is destiny

Everybody I have met and spoken to about this movie has a view. Even people who have not watched it have a view. But the answer to the above question ? The answers vary. I personally would go with C while also admitting that answers B and D have bigger roles to play. Choice of Answer A definitely it is not and why is that you may ask. I shall tell you. For us who are used to being carried away for 3 hours into a world of dreams where even the poorest of souls rises to be the richest of men is nothing new. For us who are used to being part of romances where the protagonist leaves everything in search of true love, nothing is new in Slumdog.

What is new in Slumdog is that a movie is well made technically, the story is set in India, the characters are all Indian, the music fits in well with the movie and the story highlights most interesting aspects of society that cinematic-ally interest western audiences. This is not my attempt to be politically correct, but at this point in my narrative I will take a couple of sentences to point out our own hypocrisy. We protest saying it is not an Indian film, it does not show India in true light. time to ask ourselves, would we have given as much attention if an Indian film-maker had made a film set in India in English ? Is it the job of a western film-maker to do perception management of our country when our own film makers shoot stories set in foreign locales and if not have songs pictured in South Africa and Europe ?
If we are to leave the politics and the publicity aside, Slumdog Millionaire is a good film. It picks a story. A story of aspirations an dreams. It marries the many elements of cinema including the background score very well and presents a package that is refreshing. It introduces a host of new faces who prove that acting and stardom are mostly separate paths.

Does this film promote India ? Answer to that is - Hello ! It is a film. It is entertainment. It is a story. Watch it, enjoy it. Indians feel happy that it has improved the brand recall of India and Mumabi and more importantly it was the vehicle for India's musical genius A R Rahma & Resul Pokutty to get the Oscars. When was the last time we knew the name of a film editor, or of a sound mixer or a sound engineer ? It may be the responsibility of the film-maker to be sensitive to cultures and communities but the film maker does not hold the overriding responsibility to do what the governments and citizens of a country are supposed to do.

It is time to just lie back and enjoy cinema and the art of storytelling.


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