Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Reader Vs. Slumdog Millionnaire

The Reader. What a movie! So perfectly made and so perfectly performed by Kate Winslet and Ralph Piennes, its mindblowing. The movie is about an illiterate woman who is ashamed of her inability to read and write. It's about an illicit affair that she starts with a 15 year old boy and how it grows into a beautiful one over a lifetime. So simple and yet picturized so well that it's actually gripping.

I won't write more about the reader but it made me finally write about Slumdog Millionnaire. Before I begin, disclaimer – I am proud that A.R. Rehman got two Oscars for Slumdog but I also feel that if this song got him Oscar he deserves Oscar for more that 90% of his songs; infact I cant recall any of his song which was bad.

So why did the reader make me write about Slumdog. Because now, I finally know why I didn't like Slumdog. When I first watched Slumdog, I was like – "ok… a good movie… but not an Oscar good movie". It's just not a well made or well directed one. Just because you show one heart wrenching scene after another, you don't make a good movie. The love story was a beaten to death story. And even if we discount that factor, the love story didn't really seem like the centre story. Its was poverty, the infamous jumping into the river of human shit, eye being popped out of children, the beggary, animal like policemen, how kids travel on the train tops, how they steal food because of hunger, how a show like "Who wants to be a Millionnaire?" will not allow a chaiwala to be a contestant. Yes, these were the central characters. These are the scenes that move you and get captured in your mind for a long time after you watch the movie. Cut, to the reader. Set in the backdrop of Hitler's Germany and concentration camps and suchlike horror, the movie is not about the Germans, the Jews, the Second World War or anything except that one woman. The backdrop is just backdrop, supporting the story so beautifully that you admire the guy who actually wrote it. The actors play their characters so well that you can't help but admire them wholeheartedly. A British Kate speaks German English so well and the make up makes her look like those typical Germans. Cut to our Jamal Chaiwala – our slumdog speaks in British accented English (Remember he is illiterate?) and his looks so cute that I almost got a crush on him. He didn't look like a guy who has seen so much in life. He just looked like a normal cool college kid.

Slumdog Millionnaire is a well cinematographed, patched up story. So what do we have in India? Poverty, riots, orphan children, hunger, petty crimes, beggary scams, rapes, children jumping into human shit (please tell me who in slums, do that? I mean really…), corrupt policemen, uncivilized people (host making fun of a contestant because of his financial status!! Where does that happen??). So we have a list now. How can we put our hero go through all of this in time frame of 2 hours? Bravo, there's an Oscar winner!

What I want to stress on is that when I watched the reader, I loved the characters, I admired the film making, I couldn't move because it was so gripping just with the human emotions, and the fact that the story was set in a beleaguered Germany was testimony of the brilliance of the writer. When I watched Slumdog on the other hand, I couldn't help but feel a constant let down against the crazy hype the movie created. The story seemed like a patch up of various elements that were standing out like a sore thumb out of the central story. Like everytime Anil Kapoor made fun of Jamal, I just felt irritated by his performance which was so pathetic and the fact that there is not even a hint of realism in it. I have inkling that it was a bad movie packaged a little too well.

Friday, February 27, 2009

OH... MY… GOD… !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WTFness has scaled new heights. I refrained from writing about Slumdog Millionnaire so far even when my blogger friends made it perfectly clear that not writing about Slumdog is like a crime in blogosphere. But UPA has forced me to. Of all the people who would want a piece of Oscar, our government was the least expected.

"In an unmistakable resonance of the previous NDA government's `India Shining' slogan, Congress floated the idea of an `achieving India' and listed among the milestones the Indo-US nuclear deal, Chandrayaan, near 9% growth and the total sweep of the Oscars." – TOI

But of course they are right; if UPA was not there, could we have sustained the poverty on which they could make a movie? Duh….. I mean aren't our politicians at least adults. How could anyone make such comments I simply fail to understand.

Apparently someone also said it is "a film of India, for India, by India"?!?!? Gasp! Gasp! Cant take more WTFness…

Monday, February 23, 2009

Crazily Fabulous or Fabulously Crazy?

When I started to blog sometime last year, those were good days. We were riding the boom. Infact, that's how I named this blog. I thought it were the crazily fabulous times. The IPL had started and it was like the epitome of the great Indian growth story for me. I wanted to capture this mood in my blog. Then the Lehmen fell. Like a pack of cards, all major financial institutions US followed its suit. In less a year, this crisis has grown in such large proportions that a capitalist US has started using words like nationalization. That's drastic.

India also got the hit; first by rampant inflation, and now in the aftermath of US crisis and world at large, we are faced with a steady and steep fall in consumption and jobs. Growth estimates are getting revised downwards almost every month. Not only that, terrorism has taken a life of its own. Whole year had an average of one attack every year with a grand finale in Mumbai. Outside home, there's constant violence in the Middle East. And Taliban is getting closer to home. Only in the late 80s, world saw the end of colonialism. Now barely after 2 decades it seems we are again entering a dark phase of financial depression riddled with terrorism.

Back in home we have a new breed of creatures that go by the name of 'sena' (milder and desi version of Taliban); with utterly twisted sense of culture and nationalism, out there to push our country back in time, as if all these other problems were not enough to meet that objective.

I observed today a few of my earlier posts, which are nothing but cynical comments about everything. That's when I suddenly realized that it's no longer crazily fabulous times; it has turned into fabulously crazy times. Am I being too much of a cynic here? I wish I was!   

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Politics fixed!

After Cricket fixing, Azharuddin is back in media; now about to join the next best career for him – Politics. Our politicians truly don't know their audience. In a cricket crazy country like ours, I think everyone hates Azharuddin. Why would they vote for him? Or may be they know their audience a little too well. How foolish we-the-people are!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pink Chaddi Campaign

I am sure everyone now knows about the Pink Chaddi Campaign. I can't be more excited about this. There is no more fitting reply to Muthalik than a flood of Pink Chaddis from all over the country. I have joined their facebook group. Although I couldn't send them the chaddi on time, I plan to participate in the Pub Bharo action.

I believe this is the first of its kind of protest taking place in our country where we are not defending any of our actions and openly saying that as "pub-going, loose and forward women" we don't want anyone preaching us what is right or wrong. The word "loose" may be a problem for some but I think the message that we are sending out is that we don't care what you think about us… but you have no business of telling us what we should and shouldn't do. It delights me to see so many men come forward and support this cause.

I hope to see this campaign reach far and wide and leave a lasting impact on our culture and outlook towards women. Also, I hope to see these vanar senas across our nation, die of the stink from our pinkies!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ulta Logic!

This is the height of WTFness! Some BJP leader is talking about why girls should not be going to pubs - "After drinking, boys lose their controls and can be doing anything to girls". When people commit crimes, generally law punishes the criminal. Here somehow the victim is supposed to be under house arrest after 7pm so that the criminals can't commit crimes against them. Raghu does bring this in later in the debate, but this is a point which can't be over emphasized!! For a second if we forget that it is a very accepted norm in our culture to protect girls by restricting them at homes, you would realize how ridiculous this is. How can this old dude make this statement so openly? Oh, guys are guys, they will drink and lose their "controls" and if girls start going to pubs our culture will be compromised. If the guys are losing their "controls" then they should be banned from going to pubs; they should be arrested. That is the role of the law makers and our politicians; not beating up girls.