Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Wonders Of The Underdog

Hmmmm... In case your thinking this another review of the Slumdog Millionaire your wrong. This is an account of how the movie appealed to me on more than a superficial level.

Spoiler warning:In case you haven't watched it already I wouldn't recommend reading further.

Well to begin with, the movie has done amazingly well at the various award ceremonies. It has been nominated under 10 categories for the Oscars including Best Motion Picture; which brings us to the question: Does it truly deserve all the attention?

From an Indian point of view, it seems like a brutal yet realistic public washing of India's dirtiest laundry (well literally if you've watched the Dhobhi Ghat scenes). Its a slap in the face to us priviledged Indians. But I discovered a much deeper meaning in it.

Right at the begining of the movie you'll see the kids playing in the slums among all the rubbish and filth. Disgusting? Look deeper. Do you see the smiles on their faces? They seem to be oblivious to the cruel world around them. Can you confidently say you've been that happy and carefree any time in the near past? I for one envied those kids. They dont even know the dreadfull word that plagues most of us in the developed world today -"Recession".

Next up, when the little protagonist of our movie Jamal is in the "Orphanage" waiting for his turn to show off his singing talents, can you see the hope and optimisim he has? He's dreams of living in the famous Harbour road. Now think, just because this kid lives a hopeless life in a slum does that mean he doesnt have hopes? I'd say his dreams are bigger than mine ever was as a kid. Need inspiration? Look no further.

When he's all grown up, you'll notice he suddenly has an accent. To the superficial observer that might seem like a blooper. Look closer. He's been working as a tea server in a call centre for a few years atleast. Now where else in the world but in one of India's famous call centres, can you find the high probability that a poor slum boy will not only learn english, but learn it with an accent! He also gains loads of information on the way by just "overhearing" the training sessions there. Now thats actually very realistic in my opinion.

Towards the end, the movie illustrates a very stark reality in his brother Saleem's death. "You may be submerged in a bath filled with money, but you sure as hell wont be taking any of it with you on the one way flight out".

These are but a few of the many things that struck me while watching it. Im not saying you'll like the movie but if there's one thing thats sure, you'll stop cribbing about your own life.. atleast for a day! Oh and yeah, you'll also think twice before you give a coin to a beggar child.