Archive for January, 2009

I have a cinema moment that has never completely left me. It was the time that I first heard chinna chinna asai (In Hindi Dil hai choti si asha). The thing about the song was hope… And so too with Slumdog Millionaire.

The film is set in the slums of Mumbai, and in this sense the landscape is realistic. After all, Danny Boyle does not conjure up those sets or Dharavi. They do unfortunately exist, as do communal riots.

But what stands out about this film is its ability to put all that muck out there and still make you laugh. And when you laugh, you laugh not because India is being ridiculed, but because life and the human spirit is so beautiful.

I don’t think that Danny Boyle has won his many awards because he has showcased India’s poverty – as is the argument put forward by the great Indian middleclass. I think the awesome thing about this film is that it is situated in a nation’s povetry, but you never come out of it thinking of that poverty. Instead you dare to hope and dream.

Minus the poor infrastructure, the film is actually a Bollywood film, but without its excesses.

Yes… the film has its flaws. Not least amongst it is that abrupt transition from Hindi to English dialogues. Also, the situation of Jamal as a chai wallah in a Call Centre is unnatural.

Cinematography is very good in patches. The editing is good, but should have been several notches higher as the film has a unique narrative style that depends on how the story is edited.

It must also be said that the film works because of the fantastic coming together of the ensemble cast. The kids and Dev Patel stand out. Together they reflect purity, beauty and unstoppable power  – contrasted against a brutal world.

Will Danny Boyle win an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire? I don’t know and it does not really matter.

But, I do believe that Rehman deserves an Oscar for the soundtrack. Yes, it’s true that we’ve heard even better from him. But in few movies has his music so completely reflected the pulsating soaring spirit of the film as it does with Slumdog Millionaire.

Jai Ho Jai Ho… That’s the heart of Slumdog Millionaire.