Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Indian Curry, British Bowl

Danny Boyle knew he had a global winner in the script of Q & A. The generous accolades for the film from the world over tell many a tales of orchestrated creativity and populist strategem.If Slumdog makes you happy at its global success, it also leaves you sullen at the falling standards of film making and the over-accommodating benchmarks as to what constitutes creativity.

The film tells the story of Jamaal Malik - a slum dweller with starry-eyed ambition to make it big in life..but not at the cost of his simple morality that remains unadulterated in the hustle bustle of the metropolis. As he grows up to the realities of life around him, the resolve to defy his fate becomes even stronger.

And as we would expect of a Indian cinemascope product, success greets him on the way with dramatic twists and turns as he becomes a millionaire and wins back his childhood love. Boyle relies on all the gimmickry that fills an Indian film - and the usual wow-a-Britisher-makes-an-Indian-film hysteria helps his cause too.

The artistes are no great shakes in terms of capabilities - Both Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto cash in on the jackpot that they hit - and who would not - but they fall short of histrionics in crucial scenes - at best, they are passable. Anil Kapoor plays a character that's hardly developed - the audience is left wondering about the reason for his loud n' wicked ways - and the "live" feel of the TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati is ridiculous (The Patel and Kapoor rendezvous in the loo during the commercial break is the height of stupidity)The frame showing the child Jamaal going all over, rolled in shit, (literally) in a desperate attempt to catch a glimpse of superstar Amitabh Bachchan is as disgusting as it is unreal (Amitabh ka helicopter...Amitabh ka helicopter..shouts a slum urchin! - what filthy drama) Mahesh Manjrekar ends his screen oblivion with a half-baked role that he makes even more unconvincing.

The best part of the theme is the way it begins ....with the four options asking how Patel won the coveted millionaire crown - "it is written" - says the screen at the end...brilliant stuff. Even the scenes of the working class cross-section glued to television screens watching their favorite TV show are beautifully done.The child artistes are wonderful.

A R Rahman, Gulzar and Pokutty's Oscar fame is indeed the highlight of the film's recognition. Not that their glowing talent was in need of any firang acknowledgment - but the Oscar win is the real Jai Ho!