One could mistake the 81st Annual Academy Awards for being themed on India. So complete was the dominance of Slumdog Millionaire that I was actually tired of my own exaltation.
I liked the movie but never imagined it fit for the Oscars. Rahman winning for the Best Original Song and Best Original Score was shocking. Was there no competition? Rahman is a genius by Indian standards, but ‘Jai Ho’ being adjudged the Best Original Song at the summit is impossible for me to digest. And what was so outstanding about the score?
Anyway, the movie deserves adulation for its hard-hitting and in-your-face depiction of the lives of millions of people living in the ghettos of Mumbai. What’s incredible is that it took a British filmmaker to show us the ever-elusive ‘real’ India. Not surprisingly, Bollywood, which largely thrives on spinning a glittery world of ephemeral escape for those who have to struggle hard to make ends meet – many of whom stay in ghettos, hasn’t been overtly enthusiastic about the movie. Some stars, pseudo-intellectuals cocooned in affluence and far removed from reality, can hardly relate to the depiction of abject living. They complain of foreigners repeatedly projecting our poverty to the rest of the world; and yet, they never tire of scripts revolving around their signature brand of implausible romance . I wonder how much of their immensely incommensurate wealth is ever donated for a social cause. Perhaps our ‘stars’ need to be quizzed on what troubles them more – the very real poverty of India or its depiction on screen.
It’s time to rejoice in the glory Slumdog Millionaire has won for us.