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It is Oscar season and I saw 2 nominated movies recently that were based on true stories. The first, Invictus, was the better of the two and a satisfying watch. Morgan Freeman’s Oscar nomination is something I don’t quite get, but I didn’t find much to complain about in the movie.
The second, The Blind Side, was an interesting movie — in the sense, the story was amazing. I would recommend giving the movie a skip and instead, reading this 2006 feature at the The New York Times. That is the story of Michael Oher, the central character of The Blind Side. I didn’t read this before watching the movie, so the movie seemed interesting. Post reading, it became very obvious that the movie was being used as Sandra Bullock’s Oscar vehicle. There were many scenes that seemed not-essential to the plot, but I am sure those very scenes contributed to her Oscar nomination — which again I do not get.
I haven’t seen Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, but most other acting nominations were disappointing this year. George Clooney for Up In The Air was incomprehensible. Among the 10 movies that were nominated for the Best Movie, I have seen a handful. In my very humble opinion, the only deserving nominations were The Hurt Locker and Up.
Anyway, the Oscars are over and there isn’t much point debating the nominations.
I saw the 55th Filmfare awards recently. That is one of the reasons I go skiing : if I don’t, I watch such things.
The usual duo — Shahrukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan — hosted it. The show was horrible. It came across as unrehearsed and unpolished. I think that is one of the main reasons why no one takes all the private award show functions seriously. None of them — Screen, Stardust, IIFA, Filmfare (I think I missed a couple) — take themselves seriously, then how do they expect viewers to ?
The Academy Awards, Golden Globes, SAG and all other awards are probably no different then the Indian awards : most of them have a formula and they can be cracked. This can be generalized to any popular award function, because hypothetically speaking, if we had an award that only honoured the absolute best, I don’t think anyone would care about it.
While arguably similar in nature, the respect that the Globes and Oscars get is nowhere close to the Filmfares. The reason (I think) is what I said before — they don’t take themselves seriously. Since last year, there has also been a trend to introduce drama and reality TV into these functions. It started with Sajid Khan and Ashutosh Gowariker last year, and this year, it was a “fight” between SRK and Neil Nitin Mukesh.
I don’t mind good fights on television (the Sajid Khan one is a fine example), but the SRK-NNK one is embarrassing to watch. It was staged, but it wasn’t polished enough to come across as authentic, and it wasn’t crass enough to be obviously in humour. It was just bad.
Oh and for some WTF reason, Filmfare had a lengthy tribute to Michael Jackson. Shahid Kapur (I am guessing he was the youngest boy in Bollywood) performed some MJ numbers, while the crowd looked on cluelessly. Now I haven’t seen a lot of MJ, but Shahid Kapur just came across as wanting to prove some random point to Kareena Kapoor. With his ever bulging biceps, he is going down the path of Sunny Deol rather than Michael Jackson. Only an elastic body or some young boys can save him now.
Incidentally, Shahid Kapur’s biceps are still smaller than Vidya Balan’s.
Update : A friend reminds me that the Bachchans did not attend the Filmfares. It had to do with the Mumbai Mirror incident, although I don’t know what the exact connection is. All I can say is I missed the Bachchans thing that they do at award shows.
No, the title is not the cliched Jai Ho of every second article. Everyone is using the first Jai Ho from the track, I am using the 6th one.
Congrats to Resul Pookutty and A.R. Rahman for bringing 3 Oscars back home. Well deserved indeed.
Also congrats the to the Slumdog Millionaire team for pulling off an almost improbable win (this would make sense to people who followed the movie since last October).
I am not entering into another debate over whether it deserved the award, I leave that to people who prefer to overlook the rules of the game or oversimplify the Academy voters and the Western filmmakers.
For people who believe India has better movies than Oscar winners, all I can say is no matter how fast he runs, Usain Bolt cannot really be called the fastest runner between wickets.
For people who think Slumdog changes nothing for us :
Friend (on a ski lift) : (listening to the ipod)
Stranger : So what music are you listening to ?
Friend : Well, Indian music.
Stranger : Oh cool. I just got the music of Slumdog !
This was before the Oscars.
And for people who think this isn’t Rahman’s best work, here is a small story :
Random person from the West : The music of Slumdog is like .. freakin’ awesome !!
Random person from North India : The goras are idiots. The music of Slumdog is utter rubbish. Those saala goras haven’t heard his Hindi albums.
Random person from a city in South Indian city : The goras and northies are both idiots. The music of Slumdog and his Hindi albums are utter rubbish. They haven’t heard his Tamil albums.
Meanwhile, a fly in the loo of Panchathan studio : Did you just hear that dude sing ? That has got to be his best tune ever !
Lastly, my deepest condolences to the people unhappy with the Oscar results. I do understand how much you disliked some of the movies and results, but all I can say is you’ve got to live with it, and life doesn’t end here.
Some trivia to end. Benjamin Button and The Dark Knight are examples of movies made for the Oscars. Slumdog Millionaire barely escaped going straight to DVD and was never even sure of getting a US release.
A.R. Rahman has been shortlisted previously by the Academy for songs of Rang De Basanti and Water in the Best Original Song category. He just did not make it to the final list of nominees.
Edit : No matter how great A.R. Rahman is, he simply shouldn’t be singing live !
While the elitist “Oscar movie” watching people have been shamelessly applauding Slumdog Millionaire, the Hindu Janajagruty Samiti (HJS) has meditated deeply on the movie to discover the following objections :
All characters in this film are Muslims except a few like, begger boy Arvind, Game show host Prem Kumar and Jamal’s girlfriend Latika.
And to add to their woes, a Muslim wins 20 million ruppes and also gets Latika !! Damn you Danny Boyle !
Hindu boy Arvind was made blind and begger. Again why not Salim, Shaik, Omar?
Well I hear from Danny Boyle that originally Jamal was supposed to be blinded but then he wasn’t able see half the answers as they happened in his life.
Now the gem :
As per the news, Muslim boys are paid to lure Hindu Girls. In this film Jamal, a Muslim boy is shown very kind to Hindu girl. This is part of international conspiracy against Hindu culture.
Even I cannot counter that.
But as a citizen of a democratic country, I will not say anything against the HJS. Instead, keeping in line with the recent forms of protest, I propose we start The Pink Dogs Campaign to send them our spare “pink dogs”.
That film ‘critic’ Taran Adarsh is not the wisest man to inhabit this earth is well known (yeah the same guy who gave Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna 4 1/2 stars).
Taran’s unabashed love for Shahrukh Khan/Karan Johar movies (which I can only hope hasn’t crossed the platonic lines) has been constant fodder for the intellectual audiences and reviewers at Passion For Cinema. He has been the object of such ridicule that a few days prior to the release of the latest Shahrukh Khan starrer Rab Na Bana Di Jodi, a fake review of the movie by him surfaced on the internet, filled with ‘Taran Adarsh cliches’.
I always thought people were at times too harsh on him for being a Bollywood fanboy. It was fine that he did not have an exposure to non-Bollywood or what some people call good cinema, but he betters himself while reviewing Slumdog Millionaire :
and how towards the end they meet again, they unite and this guy, he also goes on to win the jackpot.
Okay I can live with this, Slumdog Millionaire wasn’t a suspense thriller anyway. But this :
Films like these don’t really get made every day with international names like David Boyle, which are still desi at heart. Well I think David and his writer Simon Beaufoy are basically big Bollywood fans … (note the fanboyish expression here) ….
I am envious that he is close enough to the director to refer to him on a first name basis, but after all the hype and the countless articles about the movie, the least I would expect him to know is that the director is Danny Boyle.
P.S. : More Slumdog news, the Oscar ceremony is tipped to open with a live performance of Jai Ho by A.R. Rahman and Sukhwinder Singh.
This is the first guest post on this blog and I thank Veda for graciously agreeing to write this piece. Veda is a features correspondent with Pune Mirror. I have wanted to have a detailed piece on Slumdog Millionaire for quite some time and this article took shape during our analysis of the movie. Leaving further details aside, here it is :
SM oscar nomination toll: 10. Yay!
The news channels had to replace segments with an impromptu (and badly edited) ‘Oscar Fever’ that featured, among other bytes, the cast doing a bit of bhangra on red carpet at the Mumbai premiere. The premiere happened to be immediately after the nominations were declared.
Now that the movie has officially released in India, I hope whatever panel discussions that follow will include people who have actually seen it. I also hope that the phrase Jai Ho doesn’t appear everywhere I look – advertisments, newspaper headlines, political slogans; I’m not going to be overly optimistic about that last hope. The first one though, might just come true. Mainly because you can’t really keep critisizing a movie that’s been nominated for 10 academy awards. I think all of a sudden no one will care that there’s a ‘squalid underbelly’ being depicted, and start congratulating the stars who will now become the true ambassadors of the country.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the movie has cracked a formula that no one knew existed.
The story is complete fantasy, but the setting is real. The story is also not really of Indian origin – it’s more like a racy bestseller on the New York Times list, which when turned into a movie is great fun to watch. But again, the setting of the story is Indian – the city, the episodes in Jamal’s life. I found that it felt like watching a Hollywood movie in which the aesthetics of the movie would appeal to Westerners more than a typical Indian. For example, the easy, almost nonchalent, depiction of the red light area when the mid Jamal and Salim rescue Latika. An Indian film maker would have highlighted that in some way, through music, different colour tones, surreal sets, anything. That’s why I don’t think any Bollywood director or FTII national award winner could have made something like this. It could have been made by someone of Indian origin who’s studied film making abroad.
Rahman’s music manages to do what the film does – bringing Western aesthetic in Indian context. I’m talking about the background score, not the songs.I still haven’t figured out the random Baila thingy in the middle of Jai ho! and O saaya, is too Rahman to categorise.
The movie does seem to have everything going right for it. Except the acting, but that doesn’t seem to matter because of the novelty factor that India brings in, with the economy that’s supposed to save the west, steal their jobs, contribute to their pop songs, etc. After all, India has been the flavour of the month for several years now. And the West is dying to know more about India in a manner in which they can relate to. Bend it Like Beckham was also a Globe nominee for best movie, and that wasn’t half as well made, and the more desi Namesake didn’t figure anywhere.
So, with 10 nominations, and a possible of 9 wins, I think this movie has more than just a chance. I’m counting on at least one statue for Rahman.
P.S. : Previous posts on Slumdog Millionaire here.