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.