Dog Day Afternoon

Slumdog Millionaire has won ! Yeahhh ! Every Indian can now leap out of human excreta and go Jai Ho under the neele aasmon ke taale. Because as Anil Kapoor tells us “It’s time for me, the whole team of slumdog and every India to cheer and celebrate. We are having an ecstatic moment here in LA. I can only say that India has made a clean sweep here.” Why just Anil Kapoor, who may be forgiven for being a bit carried away, even Raja Sen of Rediff informs us that “India conquers the Oscars”.

Surely a movie/documentary made by non-Indians with India as the subject winning equates to India conquering the Oscars. Just like if the “March of the Penguins” would have swept the Academy Awards, it would have been a glorious achievement of Antarctica and a proud day for all penguins.

[Update: Why Anil Kapoor or Raja Sen? According to the TOI, the Congress is now claiming credit for Slumdog (I hope they have seen the movie to be sure about what exactly they are claiming credit for). Baila Baila ! (link courtesy Rohit) ]

The fact that Slumdog did so well on Sunday should have surprised none. At least not me, I knew it the moment I stepped out of the DC theatre in December.

For one, Slumdog Millionaire very deliberately and very effectively strikes many of the chords that Academy judges have been known to have a soft spot for . In order to ace an exam, you do not necessarily have to be the best —even an average person can excel if he/she can understand the “system” and do exactly what is expected. Slumdog Millionaire does that admirably.

The other angle we need to take in order to understand Slumdog’s sweep is to look at the Academy Awards itself, the alarming decline in its popularity and the threat to its existence as a publicly broadcast spectacle. Last year, the Oscars had its lowest viewership ever and though there was a partial rebound this year (third poorest ever), the fact remains that the awards ceremony, as a sustaining money making enterprise, is in jeopardy. The movies that make it to the nomination list, being of the “art-house” variety, usually have limited releases in select theaters which means that most people have not seen or heard of them and have no emotional connect with its fate. The profile of the people attending are not the ones who appeal to the teen/brainless/celebrity-obsessed demographic in the way MTV Awards do. Finally the presentation style remains roughly the same year after year.

Critics of the Academy complain that the jury has an irrationally pig-headed aversion for commercially successful movies . No matter how good a movie is , if it commercially successful and popular, it is invariably rejected by the elitists on the committee. The only exceptions to this in recent years has been Titanic (which fit into the “grand historical tragedy on an epic scale” formula popular with the jury) and the Return of the King (which was just way too spectacular to be ignored) with the years in which these movies swept the night were those when the Oscar show showed record viewership. [Many old-timers still find it tough to get over the time the Oscars passed over crowd -favorite ET in favor what was perceived as an over-long, preachy hagiography “Gandhi” in 1982]

Faced with the tension between “popularizing” (“dumbing down”) the awards (let’s have “You got Served” and “Spiderman” as nominees) and making it into a “nobody cares” snoozefest like the Tony’s, the Academy finds movies like “Slumdog Millionaire” God-given get out of jail cards. Shamelessly feelgood with its underdog story, cloying romance and the “This is the third world. Look at how sub-humanly they stay in their own country” subtext “Slumdog” is intellectually untaxing, visually spectacular, full of “human interest” and unabashedly “exotic”.

In short a movie normal people can connect with.

At the same time, it is sufficiently “low-budget”, “non-franchised” and “non-summer-blockbuster” for the Academy to not think that they have compromised the awards by giving it all to Slumdog. [ Had Ledger not died and this not become so “sentimental”, I am sure the Oscar committee would have ignored the Dark Knight totally. It surely deserved a nomination for Best Director and Best Movie but then being a summer blockbuster, a definite “No No”]

No wonder then that it won. And big.

If there were any people I felt good for on Sunday night it was for Resul Pookutty and for the man they called Rackman. Coming from the Indian movie industry where technical people are sometimes treated as second class contributors in the film-making process, it was gratifying to see someone from the fraternity getting his time in the limelight.

And what to say about the Rackman or AR Rehman. One of India’s cultural icons of the modern era, he has consistently given music that is, to put it as modestly as possible, world-class. While it may be argued that Slumdog is by no means his best work, it sure was better than his competition (the other nominees) and I would go so far as to say that a significant part of Slumdog’s “feel good” effect would have been lost had it not been for the thumping “Jai Ho” at the end, a song that almost compels you to get out of your seat and clap. At the very least, Rehman deserved some kind of universal acclaim for albums like “Dil Se” and “Bombay” and “Roja” and seeing him on the podium (wish Gulzar could have been there with him) was definitely an emotional moment for me.

Finally the real “worm-has-turned” feel-good instant was when Anil Kapoor leapt onto stage and just went berserk. Who would have thought that the man flailing his arms as if in the throes of an epileptic fit while singing “Aaa jee O Jeee” in “Ram Lakhan”, the man bustling Juhi Chawla with a “maalgadi tu dhakka laga” and a “tirchi nazar main hain jadoo”, the man swinging punches with his wrist on fire in “Rakhawala”, the man crooning “Vatata Vada”, “Hungama Ho Jaye Hungama” and “Bo Eee Bo Eeee Bum Ba Ba Bum Bo Eee”, the hairy back moving up and down in “Parinda” —Mr. Bechara, Mr. Azad, Mr. India would one day be holding aloft an Oscar.

Who would have thought?

Egged on by two of the biggest names in the business, Sir David Frost and US talkshow giant Larry King, the 50-year old actor says he’s considering taking up full-time TV presenting.

“I’ve been encouraged by Larry King and David Frost,” he told the Independent. “Both said my television presenting skills were second-to-none. When such icons of the form give you a compliment like that you simply cannot ignore it. David said I could go on to be one of the great television hosts of our time so it is something I’m seriously looking into.” He adds. “Perhaps I could front my own show here. I’ll rule nothing out.” [Link]

Always charming, self-effacing and modest, I cannot think of one other person from Bollywood who deserved to be where they are today other than Anil Kapoor.

Khelta ja khelta ja baaziyon pe baaziyaan.

142 thoughts on “Dog Day Afternoon

  1. I agree that Slumdog Millionaire was not AR “Rackman’s ” best contribution but what the heck everybody knows that the Academy Awards does not honor world cinema (Apart from the “Foreign film ” category) This was just more publicity for the musician and maybe worldwide recognition for him. Let us just feel good about this.

  2. Nice post! And refreshing to find someone who shares my sentiments about Anil Kapoor. Watching him on CNN was awesome, Lakhan has come good, Jai Ho!

  3. Donot flame me everyone for the below opinion. I have not seem Slumdog and have no intentions of doing so.

    I have very mixed feelings.I was very young, yet beamed with so much pride and joy, when the immortal Ray won an Oscar for life time achievement.

    Rahman’s winning the oscar makes me proud and the feeling that Bollywood has arrived but the subject of the film dims this happy feeling.

    But just to take the contrarian view – When the greatest Indian film ever made – Pather Panchali was released to critical acclaim. Was not there an uproar in Parliament about Ray making a film that “exported Indian poverty” ? Fifty years later, we honor it as an enduring and timeless classic.

    Now, I am not equating both these films.I would not dare do that.

    But is there a common thread here?

    Are we mature enough as a society to accept criticism?

  4. For the first time in a very long time, i don’t understand what you are trying to say. For most of the first part you tell us (quite convincingly) that the Oscar Awards are not really about good movies, but are about certain kinds of movies. Then, in the next part, you’re telling us how wonderful it is to see Rahman and Anil Kapoor and Resul Pookutty on that same stage! If the argument works for the film, why doesn’t it apply to the people who won awards for the film? What does it say when you run down the very stage on which you felt it was an honor for Rehman and others to stand and be feted?

    If “Critics of the Academy” say what they say, then what do you think about it? If you feel Slumdog Millionaire didn’t deserve it given the competition why not say so? Besides, don’t you think Rehman faces stiffer competition for the Filmfare Award for Music and Song than he did at the Oscars?

  5. @Vamsi, Pather Panchali was accused of having exported Indian poverty many years after the movie’s release by one Nargis Dutt after some of Ray’s movies were seen as anti-Congress. I wrote a post on this last month where I argued that Ray was never about poverty and there was hardly ever any poverty porn of the sort that permeates every sequence of Slumdog. Please do read.

    @Kartikeya: I fail to understand the inconsistency. I say that Oscars are a system and that system can be gamed by mediocre movies like Slumdog. This is a problem that many review systems, not just the Oscars, have. And over the past few years with the Oscars declining in its popularity, it has become even more susceptible to gaming.

    *However just because a mediocre student, with a knowledge of the system, can get the gold medal does not mean that all the toppers are undeserving.*

    When I say “Slumdog isnt an excellent movie and not Oscar worthy” I am equating the Oscars with excellence. A standard of excellence I believe that is set by movies like Godfather, On the Water Front, Casablanca, Midnight Cowboy, American Beauty etc— a standard to which I do not believe Slumdog can measure up against, even in comparison to say the Dark Knight.

    Second of all, when I mention the happiness of seeing Anil Kapoor on stage, I was being sarcastic.

    I am happy for Rehman because he gets his moment in the sun. He gets the applause he deserves. Not that he would be any less without an Oscar. But he looked happy and I felt happy for him. Same with Pookutty. The Oscars will be even more important for him than for Rehman because it will hopefully lead to international, higher paying, assignments.

  6. GreatBong,

    I have been a long time reader of your blog. And I believe that your stance on SlumDog is 100% sensible and reasonable [can’t think of any more words]

    Where is the review of Delhi-6? That movie has its moments but not without stereotypes.

  7. What??? No Bengali got Oscars?? Academy is biased.

  8. RichAndFamous:

    Yeah right. No Bong won the Oscars. Not even Satyajit Ray.


    Moments? I am sorry totally disliked Dilli 6. Maybe I have been spoiled by Dev D and Luck By Chance.

  9. Have you seen the blogger survey on worst Best Picture Oscar winners that Edward Copeland ran a couple of years ago?

  10. Eventhough the oscar ceremony hasn’t changed in its presentation style over the years and presently seems a lacklustre event(recession?) the professionalism & dignity keeps me hooked on. Give me the oscar ceremony over the puke-inducing cringeworthy manikchand gutka filmfares or the cock sajid roach infested star screens anyday.

  11. Yeah, I agree, was great to see Rahaman on stage performing and getting recognized finally.

    I am not a big believer in conspiracy theories, but take this –

    India opens up it’s economy: Miss Universe and Miss World (Sen and Rai)……

    Ambani invests in Hollywood : Slumdog almost sweeps the Oscars…

    …hmmn…..I hope I am wrong about this …but then I have seen money talk too often …


  13. South India is the real India. Only South Indians can make India proud in the international arena. AR Rehman and Resul Pookutty are the examples of South Indian intelligence and power. Jai Ho South Indians.

  14. Kishor, you can break away from your pathetic life if you hook up with RichAndFamous

  15. Agreed this is probably not Rahman’s best, but why should that matter because Rahman’s best were not nominated for Oscar. One may debate the merits/demerits of the movie Slumdog (I myself did not like it much) but one can not question the the role of home grown artists behind its success. And GB wasn’t ‘Training Day’ a commercially successful movie ?

    One can question the motives of the Academy behind picking Slumdog but what about other awards that it received, are we to assume that every other award ceremony was also struggling for its ‘existence’. It is okay to disagree with the choice, but with these conspiracy theories, you sound like Shobha De, no disrespect meant.

  16. For once if my “oh-so-intellectual” friends can get out of their hoods and enjoy slumdog millionaire for what it is ..a movie ..nothing more nothing less!
    Peace out!

  17. ““Slumdog isnt an excellent movie and not Oscar worthy” I am equating the Oscars with excellence. A standard of excellence I believe that is set by movies like Godfather, On the Water Front, Casablanca, Midnight Cowboy, American Beauty”

    But GB, Slumdog wasn’t up against these movies and none of the movies nominated belonged to the level of the films you mentioned. For god’s sake it was up against the likes of ‘Nixon’ and Milk.

  18. Hi Great Bong!

    It was just last weekend that I was introduced to your blog. And since then I have read quite a few of your posts and really liked (actually jumping up and down between fits of ROTFLMAO)_them. This post was of course going to be one of its kind. The status lines in orkut were a cool indication that probably the majority is not as superficial as to rejoice like our Mr. India. SDogM reminds me of the dishes served in some Indian restaurants that tweak the cuisine to cater to the western palette and upon enjoying which the targetted patrons feel they are tasting something “authentic” and “exotic”. It is a film by the first world, for the first world about the third world. My beef is not about what they show/don’t show in the movie, but mainly about the fact that it is not an “Oscar-worthy” film. It doesn’t stay with you like “Crash” or haunt you like “No Country for Old Men” and one can go on..

  19. Sanjay,

    While quoting my sentence you forgot, I am sure without any intention to mislead, to finish the sentence.

    Slumdog isnt an excellent movie and not Oscar worthy” I am equating the Oscars with excellence. A standard of excellence I believe that is set by movies like Godfather, On the Water Front, Casablanca, Midnight Cowboy, American Beauty etc— a standard to which I do not believe Slumdog can measure up against, even in comparison to say the Dark Knight.

    Now which year was Dark Knight made?

    As to Training Day yes it was a hit. (Gladiator was an example I had forgotten of a big popular movie that the Oscars recognized) But it was again not a summer blockbuster, not an ET, not a Wall-E not a Dark Knight. Thats what the Oscars hate and the people love. Not that summer blockbusters are great cinema but by just refusing to acknowledge their presence, the Oscars display an elitism that they could well do without.

  20. @Sanjay,
    American Beauty!! Come on! What Next? Shakespeare in Love?

    Slumdog was brilliant till the kids grow up. And we need to understand if it can win Oscar, it can be seen as a nod to Indian Cinema Industry (Note no usage of Bollywood).
    If Kanti Shah is reading this, I would like to advice him to release Gunda in the US so that it can be an entry to the Oscars next year 🙂

  21. Brilliant post again! Every hoopla aside, I am really happy for Rahman. Of course, it’s not his best work, but when put into perspective it was first time he was noticed and the very first time he was honored. That’s good enough for me, as of now. So what if SDM is no where close to my all-time favorite of ARR “Dil Se”, but an award well-deserved for sure.

  22. We bloody Indians love nothing better than a pat from a white hand on our bare, itchy backs.

  23. “if the “March of the Penguins” would have swept the Academy Awards, it would have been a glorious achievement of Antarctica and a proud day for all penguins.”
    Plain awesome. captures the essense of the post unbelievably well.

  24. People should watch Ramin Bahrani’s Chop Shop to understand why Slumdog is only an average movie. But kudos to Boyle for understanding what is Oscar worthy material… And of course, the Slumdog sound score is definitely not Rahman’s best work. Roja and Dil se still remain unparalleled.

  25. Today the TOI has dedicated a few pages to the coverage of the Oscars. Strangely, it reminded me of the fact that when the Sensex was at 20,000 levels in late 2007 – there used to be articles in TOI almost EVERY DAY proclaiming how India is on its way to become a superpower in a few years.

  26. So you feel good for Rahman and think he deserves it downright. I agree completely. But have you even heard the other sound tracks nominated?

    And you feel good for the slumdog yourself – Resul, saying that they are treated as second class in India and so it felt gratifying to see him on stage.

    Everything else about the recognition slumdog got was bad???

    GB, C’mmon, Grow up. You’re too good to be crying over sour grapes. I wonder what would your reaction be if Vikas Swarup got a booker for his book? or if this movie was made by an Indian and it won best foreign film?

    Agreed, the Oscars try and ignore the summer block busters but so be it. Its their award, the point rather should be why are we so stuck up with the Oscars.

    I mean, look who’s talking. If our awards can honour Singh Is King and even Feroz Khan for Janasheen, I guess Slumdog is way better.

  27. Why do people forget “The Legend of Bhagat Singh” as one of Rahman’s best work? and also “Taal” and “Alaipayuthey (Saathiya in Hindi)”.

  28. and Danny says this —
    Talking from Los Angeles an hour after he picked up his Oscar, a slightly out of breath, Boyle said, “I’m truly happy that every Indian I meet is beaming, and it is the ultimate compliment for me that people in India see Slumdog Millionaire as an Indian film. However, in reality it is a British film. It is a very gritty in the beginning and very realistic because our film culture is based on that kind of realism which in Hollywood and Bollywood isn’t quite there.’’

  29. “For one, Slumdog Millionaire very deliberately and very effectively strikes many of the chords that Academy judges have been known to have a soft spot for.”

    How do you know that the striking of the chords was deliberate and not just happenstance?

  30. @Sadaf:

    I do not see coincidence; I see providence. (Morpheus)

  31. Actually, though I have my own issues about Slumdog, it was better than David Fincher’s award baiting Curious Case of Benjamin Gollum.

    Fincher has made many fine movies, but like Spielberg with Schindler’s List finally decided to make one designed as Oscar friendly.

    BTW, Ray won a lifetime achievement award if memory serves, which was well deserved. Most of his individual movies never made past the govt’s entry selection list and I think he didn’t have resources to canvass them himself.

    In the end Oscars voting process is pretty much like American/Indian Idol, it’s a popularity contest among the oligarchical Academy members.

  32. Since long we have been fed on the poor becoming rich, the long-lost brothers reuniting and such formula-films from Bollywood. Nowadays we get some fresh thoughts and ideas from Bollywood, so the Slumdog… thing doesn’t attract us too much. Let the rest of the world gorge such formulas and cram their brains with sloppy Bollywood themes, while we enjoy our moment in the limelight with Rahman and Pookutty.
    If the Oscars love it so much, Bollywood should patent some more ideas and sell it to the West. jai Ho!!

  33. @Savita Bhabhi: Yes read that. Amazing stuff ! And note the gloating tone of TOI…as if it doesnt mind what lies on its own comment space.

  34. Really poor work .. you seem to be the sort of person who can never be happy about anything… There are two aspects about the movie – slumdog and millionaire. The aspect you see the movie – tells a lot about yourself

  35. it would be more interesting to read the same on rediff…their comments column is even better for that matter

  36. btw…apologies for going off the topic…

    here is why India might win in NZ this time…

  37. Wow, my sentiments exactly.

    Slumdog didnt even brush shoulders with MILK which i thought deserved the oscar this year. Thank god they didnt nominate Dev Patel and gave him a best actor award too..

    And indian media’s kiss-ass act was SO embarrassing! Almost in anil kapoor’s level of ecstasy. then again, almost.

  38. Oh…Anil Kapoor..gosh…what is he thinking…?
    Now GB, you are simply too good at this …this thrashing…I ‘am completely on your side and I could have never said so much… 🙂
    We can forgive everything but the best cinematography and the best adapted screenplay awards for the slumdog were just…uh…just too insane…

    No recognition for the I-MAX wonder in the dark knight and the adapted screenplay…WOW!

    Btw, happy that you didn’t like D6..I was perplexed with all the ‘AWESOME’ reviews around…!
    Could you thrash it for me? 🙂

  39. I agree with you Sadaf.

    Arnab, your argument here leads to believe that Danny Boyle deliberately set out to get an Oscar and knew what he had to make to get it…if that was the case he is a genius, ’cause am sure he is not the only one who wants an Oscar…but he sure is one among the few who knows the formula to beat the system. He has made quite a few interesting movies in his career…but I guess it was with only SM he finally understood.

    One more thing of interest is that SM was almost a direct to DVD release in the US that would’ve precluded it from even contesting the Oscars…it was only the Toronto film festival that saved it and became a fav with critics and audiences alike, which got them to show it on a few screens and increased visibility…but that was much before SM was even considered as an entry to the Academy Awards. I am sure the makers as well as Mr. Boyle have been pleasantly surprised at how it all came to pass. I found SM to be underwhelming too and yes felt there were quite a few movies last year that were better and that includes The Dark Knight, which I felt, should’ve been at least nominated for best picture, best director and a few more.

    Also, despite all the criticism about Oscars n how it is just a maturbatory exercise by Hollywood…people still covet it and thats why there is joy in being honoured. I read that ARR’s Roja had been hailed by TIME as one among the top 10 movie soundtracks of all time and he has already being recognized internationally …but Oscars have a way of multiplying your visibility factor, which is why however much we tend to trivialize it…the Oscars are still what most film makers are after. you…what Anil Kapoor was doing was indeed puke worthy…felt sad for him indeed.

  40. Mr,

    Your criticism is set to the background of Slum Dog at the Oscars. Going by your arguments it would be fair to assume that all award ceremonies are going through the same crisis that the Academy awards are…I find that a little far fetched.

    8 Academy awards.
    7 – BAFTA Awards.
    4 – Golden Globe Awards
    1- Evening standar British Film Award.
    1- Directors guild of america.
    1-Producers guild of america.
    1-Screen ACotors Guild awards.
    1-Writers Guild Award………..

    All of the above in 2009…we’re just in Feb.

    In 2008.

    1- American Society of cinematographers Awards.
    1- Austin Film Festival.
    3- Black Reel Awards.
    2- Boston Society of Film Critics Awards,
    3- British Independednt Film Awards.
    5- Broadcast Film Critics Association awards.
    3- Chicago Film Critics awards.
    3- National Board of Review Awards.
    1-Scriptyer Awards.
    1- Toronto International Film Festival.

    While your commentary is based on what you think, your thoughts sadly are not backed by facts. Please explain in no uncertain terms as to why your article is not the ramblings of an unknown trying to grab attention.

  41. “Slumdog Millionaire very deliberately and very effectively strikes many of the chords that Academy judges have been known to have a soft spot for .”

    I agree with Rahul here. You seem t imply that Danny Boyle deliberately set out to win an Oscar. That’s simply not true.

    And I for one am just glad that the Oscars have intermittently tried come out of the blockbuster traps, by ignoring obvious Oscar bait like Benjamin Button and CGI overloaded superhero flicks. Of course they have given plenty to arguably crap films like Gladiator, Titanic, LOTR, as you mentioned, but they have also given to smaller films like Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, American Beauty, and now Slumdog Millionaire.

    And if Slumdog happened to fall into the happy instance of being liked both by the Oscar committee and the masses, as it obviously has, more power to it!

    Of course it can’t please everybody – and it has copped a lot flak from varied segments including the expat Indian community, Amitabh Bachchan, Arindam Choudhuri, and Priyadarshan – some of which might actually be warranted – I would still posit that we can afford be at least a little happy that an entertaining film, with a primarily Indian cast and crew won what is, whether we like it or not, the largest film award in the world today.

    And unlike what some racist commentators say, it’s nothing to do with our craving for a “white man’s” approval. After all we don’t work in the US or UK just to crave a white boss’ approval do we? Should we not enter our films in any foreign awards at all then? What about Cannes? Or Karlovy Vary? All white men, aren’t they? We should probably be happy with our Filmfare awards where Akshay Kumar gets a best actor award for Singh is King. Hey at least, we are all brown in our mediocrity… 🙂

  42. Sorry to go slightly offtrack but i couldn’t hold myself back from posting it here that the UPA govt considers Slumdog’s success at the Oscars as its own achievement.

    Arnab, your 2 cents on this –

  43. Your penguins comparison would hold if:

    – Penguins wrote the basic story
    – Half the production crew were penguins

    You should go to Mumbai and see the reality.

    Also, except for 2 scenes, which I could not watch, I see the movie completely as a story which talks of hope and destiny. I was smiling at the end of the movie.

    I think you should try not to care about what people outside think of India, their PoV will always be different from what you want them to see.

    The real America, helping the kids by giving them money was quite funny in my opinion.

  44. GreatBong,

    This article from you looks like more of a addendum to your previous one on SDM, underlining few things:
    1> We are not ready for criticism, Fair point that the movie shows poverty in almost every reel, but expecting that one can show all colors of India in one movie in unrealistic.
    2> From ur post I gather you have high regards for “American Beauty”, the movie which shows lives of americans look beautiful but in reality it is far from that (Not a single character is shown in ve light, you may differ on Kevin spacey however). Does it mean US citizens should protest against the movie for showing america in bad light??
    3> I agree to you about understanding the system and exploiting it, but does it mean Filmfare is better award system where Movies like “Singh is King” ,”Om Shanti Om”, “Kaho na Pyar hai” gets nominated and emerge winner on basis of their commercial success. Why can’t we understand that no system is perfect. In India “Metro” gets best comic actor award for Irfan where “Bheja Fry” completely ignored.
    4> Agreed that most Indians just want attention so if this movie is about India, then everybody is taking credit of success (Like we have done for “Bobby Jindal”, “V. S. Naipaul”, “Sunita Williams” etc.), and conveniently ignored unsucessful movie made in India like “The Darjeeling Limited”(2007) even your blog also missed it. A far fetched thought may be comparision with Terror atatck in Mumbai where everyone talked about Hotel attacks but not about CST (Railway Station) attack which caused very high number of casualities.
    5> Talking about class, opinions are bound to differ so for me SDM was classy, others may disagree, About oscars till now most of the oscar winners I liked, they may not be best but not bad as well.
    If SDM is not gud because it is showing poverty porn then one may say movies like “Saving private Ryan” are worse for showing “War porn/Violence porn”.

    I am pretty sure that if some other movie would have won oscars than many would have said that West is biased against India, like all referees/umpires in sports are against India..;)

  45. Hi Arnab,

    I wouldn’t comment any further on Slumdog. It is a mediocre film and has recieved recognition from a mediocre jury with mediocre expectations. But the thing that has bothered me is this behaviour by the Indians especially Freida Pinto and Anil Kapoor. I know it is their moment in the sun, I know that both will be coming down from cloud 9, while Pinto will be doing Kal pennish roles at best in hollywood, Anil Kapoor will be back to his semi retirement. BUt the sheer lack of grace these guys have shown. I read in an interview yesterday Pinto suggesting she will move to new york because life is better than mumbai. Anil Kapoor going around with his “Jhaaakkkkkkkkaaassss” attitude, flaunting what he belives is his child like innocence, but really is the deameanour of the guy who got a lot more than he deserved. They were sub standard perfomances at best.

    Although I felT elated for POKUTTY AND RAHMAN

  46. Well, an interesting incident that happened while watching the Oscars [slightly connected to the blogpost] . We were watching the whole crew of slumdog on stage, and one of the kids was standing ahead, and we felt that we could see that twinkle in his eyes, even inspite of his age, he realised the value of the Oscars, and he must be thinking to himself “Wow, I made it to the Oscars!!!!!”…

    At which point, the camera shifted a little bit, to Anil Kapoor standing behind, and we somehow felt the same twinkle in his eyes 🙂 , the look which made us feel, he would say, Maa, Main BA mein first class pass ho gaya hoon

    All and all, I feel that the film was well made, and though it’s been accused of showing India in poor light, it’s a well made film.Rehman has come on top again, and of course, the joy that Resul Pookutty expressed, I am sure is going to be encouraging to the thousands of people who work behind the big screen to make the industry as big and as popular

    Jai ho!!

  47. from the toi link

    Reminded of the criticism the film had drawn for showcasing India’s poverty, Singhvi said such laurels had not gone to every other poor country. “Half the world is poor, there are countries poorer than India; but the film is a celebration of creativity,” he said.

    wow,all this time i thought india was the poorest country in world,and singhvi had the same misconception

  48. My 2 cents on this year’s Academy awards
    The NDTV reporter who was reporting live from the Red Carpet was totally star struck. After she got hold of Mickey Rourke, she asked him the same old question our reporters ask after any catastrophe or accident or any event – how are you feeling? Sheesh!!

    The team members of Slumdog Millionaire were fine except Anil Kapoor who looked star struck and said strange things – “Slumdog Millionaire is an Indian film. We love Mumbai. We love Maharashtra”

    I think he is planning to contest the next elections.

    Nice analysis of SM’s win. When one of my friends “confided” in me that she didnt find SM soooo special I said
    “actually kya hai ki hum log aaye din naach gaana emotion garibi dekhte hai movies me so its same stuff for us”

  49. They wer calling him RAAH MAAN actually…not Rackman 🙂

  50. “Slumdog Millionaire has won ! Yeahhh ! Every Indian can now leap out of human excreta and go Jai Ho…”

    – How phantasmagoric. I’m sure, all your fans would love that description, but maybe the term “every Indian” could be done without.

    “The other angle we need to take in order to understand Slumdog’s sweep is to look at the Academy Awards itself, the alarming decline in its popularity and the threat to its existence as a publicly broadcast spectacle. …”

    – As if, SM won because the Oscar’s popularity was on its way downhill and this was a last ditch attempt to win back lost glory. Which also explains why the BAFTA, the Golden Globe and a multitude of others heaped praises on it. After all, by your logic, this was a film that got its awards at those platforms which have lost its lustre and was trying to revive its image.

    “Shamelessly feelgood with its underdog story, cloying romance and the “This is the third world. Look at how sub-humanly they stay in their own country””

    – Of course, the fact that hope and love triumphs in the end is completely absent from your analysis is entirely a matter of “trifle details being overlooked”. Pray, how do you portray people in slums – Asking for a shaken and stirred Martini?
    Vikas Swarup wrote a novel that formed the baseline of SM, and in Swarup’s novel, the protagonist belonged to the slums. If that is acceptable, so should SM’s storyline, irrespective of it being made by Boyle or any entity. Can we do away with the hypocrisy?

    The other thing, that you might need to consider is the list movies that have actually won the Best Picture’s Award at the Oscars. Even a cursory glance would reveal that the Oscar follows no pattern, except for celebrating cinematic excellence (which I agree, is a subjective concept). To say, that only so-and-so movies qualify is, well, parading a regrettable ignorance, to put it politely (There’s a Kramer vs. Kramer, Sting, Titanic, Gladiator, Million Dollar Baby,The Godfather, Braveheart, Schindler’s List – any patterns, anybody? Oh, and btw, most of these films have been runaway hits).

    I agree about the part that focused on Rahman and Resul. We don’t treat our technicians well, and perhaps, this can be a lesson well learnt.

    About the post, well, I suppose Nideesh wrapped it up succintly…

  51. Apparently, Freida Pinto just signed up with Woody Allen (according to Rediff).

    Truly, it is written. 🙂

  52. @Ravi:

    Why grudge Anil Kapoor and Freida Pinto their moment in the sun? You would have given your right arm to be in their place right now (rhetorical statement – no need to reply “I wouldn’t” to that). They are in LA for the Oscars for Christ’s sake, standing along side legends on film, as fellow actors! And instead of being happy, you are burning up with embarrassment!? Personally I found Aishwarys Rai’s mindless giggling on Oprah far more embarrassing than anything AK’s done.

    And what’s with the hating on AK and Freida’s careers via Kal Penn? Kal Penn-ish roles? Kal Penn currently has a recurrent role in one of the most popular series – House, besides having been the co-lead in two commercially successful (Harold & Kumar) and one critically acclaimed (Namesake) film. And no doubt he will do better. Although it’s apparent the Indian community will certainly not help him in any way, except to snipe at him.

    And Dev Patel has already got a role in the adaptation of Life of Pi, and if the news in my earlier comment is to be believed, Pinto will do a Woody Allen film.
    Anil Kapoor has had a steady career that will obviously get a boost, maybe both on TV and film.

    Why on earth would you be so negative towards them? Some sort of envy? I just don’t understand it, I guess…

  53. Well.. Let me accept that it actually hurt me a little to see the so called first world countries portray a horrible image of a (so called third world) country like India. Events which are gorssly exaaggerated..! Any amount of “Cinematic Excellence”,can not take away this feeling and to this extent, I did not enjoy watching this film. I sense the same tone, perhaps in your post, GB.

    However, keeping aside all the fantasies about “what Oscar looks for” or “It was made for Oscars”, the fact still remains that it wasn’t a great movie to have won 8 Oscars.. there’s no doubt in my mind about that.. !!

  54. Great post. It was the only unbiased, honest and to the point. I agree to almost all of it. I am glad that A. R Rehman won this award. He is truly, like you said, ‘ the cultural icon of the modern era’.

  55. Re: my previous comment. The film Dev Patel has signed is Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, not Life of Pii. Sorry.

  56. On second thoughts, i feel giving Rahman an oscar would not show the indian film industry in good light, rather as good light as it deserves. Now ‘Jai Ho’ , would become a representive song of what bollywood music is all about,and what Rahman can offer. And unfortunately its a very ordinary song. Consider this, had Ray been handed an oscar for Joi baba felunath, the world (common populace that is)at large would not have known him as a extraordinary film maker ! They would have simply missed a chance to gauge his true calibre.
    As an aside, Rahman’s top recongnition comes at a time when he is having a fairly bad patch as artist. His recent works (yes D6 included) have not been what one would expect from him.

  57. Sad. GB fails with logic.

  58. When a famous kannada actor came to my village, few drunkards had written his name on their hand and chest with a knife I had many friends who had written their anarkali’s name on their chest. What i want to say is sons of such freaks, will jump into shit pond if that can help them to meet their heroes. Atleast was true when TV’s hadn’t entered slums and villages.
    So shit scene in SDM is not an exaggeration(not that boyle knew above stuff, he has cheaply shot that scene cos he knows west loves such stuff.)
    Happy for rahman.

  59. ‘As an aside, Rahman’s top recongnition comes at a time when he is having a fairly bad patch as artist. His recent works (yes D6 included) have not been what one would expect from him.’

    Ah..Vishal, now I finally understand why the west has lapped up SM so enthusiastically. If someone can consider Rehman’s best spell as an artist (Jaane tu, Jodha Akbar, SM, Delhi 6) as a fairly bad patch and consider music of Delhi 6 (IMO, on par with Roja, Taal & Dil Se) as below-average, then there’s no reason there shouldn’t exist a class of people who consider SM as a great movie.

  60. @Shan: I honestly don’t care much for the movie. I tried watching it but couldn’t. Nor am I particularly irked like some people (including Arnab) on it receiving so much acclaim, although I do believe it’s at least a tad overrated. A mild “wtf” does escape my lips when I hear jingoistic proclamations of Indian Cinema finally getting its due. But I agree that Rahman deserves as much recognition as he gets, and then some. I also agree that opinions on artistic creations tend to be as subjective as art itself. What really grinded my gears was the categorization of TDK as a “CGI overloaded superhero flick”. Really? I mean it surely is that, but is that all you think there is to the movie? I believe Slumdog fans are somewhat irritated at how the movie has been slotted by critics into the cliched “white man’s view of the real India” genre. But then I thought the same fans would be wary of making sweeping generalizations of similar nature about other movies. Apparently not. Oh well

  61. Are you serious? Anil Kapoor was pretending as if he won the Oscar- what is wrong with people ? This is an Indian story but not an Indian film. It was very lame of him and Irfan Khan to go up on stage conceding that this was their only shot at holding an Oscar. I feel Indians need to be more proud. AK and Irfan Khan are both good actors. And Indian movies, really Indian movies have been nominated several times. Why this servile attitude. I dont get it. I am not so pissed with the whole slum angle as I am with the fact that there is not recognition of the fact that Slumdog was a classic Bollywood tale, although mediocre one – underdog hero, damsel in distress, and the song and dance in the end. Some Indian director now needs to step up his game, learn something from Danny Boyle, make contacts in this industry and market his work well. AR Rahman and Pookutty were the only INdian Oscars.

  62. @gb

    Dont you think Obama and US Government is behind all this? I mean like Nidheesh mentioned it has won all the awards. I mean ALL the Awards! Golden Globes, BAFTA etc etc. Heck, it has all the chances in world to win ‘Best Kiss’ at MTV if it manages to sidestep all the kisses from ‘Milk’.

    Every reviewer in America rated it highly.. Current stand is 94%. Not to mention praised at Festivals.

    I mean this well planned and even well executed.

  63. @Avichal:

    I am curious now. Wasn’t the Dark Knight a CGI overloaded superhero flick? Any word I used that was inaccurate? Of course, I realize you were reading pejoration in that statement. I was talking of the genre in totality – Superman Returns, Spiderman, Hulk etc. – most are pretty ordinary at the end of the day.

    Mind you, I am not saying that a CGI loaded flick cannot be a good one. The Dark Knight was definitely a good film, perhaps even one of the best in the superhero genre. Beyond that – whether it was Oscar worthy or not is in the realm of opinion. I loved Both films btw, but all said and done, DK was elevated to more than average levels only through Heath Ledger’s performance (what a waste of Christian Bale!) – and one performance does not a film make. Imagine DK without Heath Ledger, and see what happens to the film. The same thing cannot be said of SM. Besides SM had great cinematography, and even better music, and all without CGI!

    Not that it matters to the discussion, but my all time fave in the comic book-to-screen genre is Sin City, and I can’t wait for the sequels to that CGI overloaded flick!

  64. Agree with you on all points except Anil Kapoor. Come on he does have his share of “Khada hai khada hai” and Loafer etc. but he has given some pretty decent performances in Eeshwar, Lamhe, Parinda, 1942, Nayak etc.

  65. @Shan: That exactly was my point. It is a superhero flick, but it transcends the genre due to its sheer brilliance. Of course it is inconceivable without Heath Ledger, but is that really a bad thing? Why does one even need to conceive it without him anyway? More importantly, is there any aspect of the movie that was mediocre? One superlative performance does not take credit away from the director, or other actors, or the technicians. A great movie can be a sum of equal OR unequal parts.

    And how exactly is it a waste of Christian Bale? He was overshadowed, plain and simple. Would you call Sholay a waste of Amitabh Bachchan simply because he was overhsadowed by Amjad Khan? Personally I loved Aaron Eckhart’s performance nearly as much as Ledger’s.

    “Besides SM had great cinematography, and even better music, and all without CGI!”
    Why would it have CGI? And why is “no CGI” such a monumental achievement? The movie didn’t have CGI because it didn’t need CGI. What’s next? I guess it’s also better than TDK because it didn’t need the Batmobile to be successful. Why are you actually even trying to compare TDK and SM? I did not set out to do that because I know it doesn’t make sense. I guess the real question to be asked is, how good is SM’s musical score really? I’m happy for Rahman, mind you, but do you really think Jai ho is a “great” song? Wait, I think I know the answer – you do.

  66. @Nidheesh:

    I think you are missing the point. GB is just putting his thoughts across and not asserting his views as facts.

    Going by your argument, Shawshank Redemption and GodFather should be considered average movies, since Shawshank Redemption has not won a single Academy award and GodFather won only three.

    And if I am not wrong, currently they hold the top two slots respectively(According to IMDB)

  67. GB….saw the movie today. Didnt think much of it….same old poverty to glory formula with a lot of poverty overdose. Mahesh Manjrekar is becoming the face of Mumbai underworld nowadays…in movies of course…Rehman was brilliant. Overall didnt like the movie…and going by the extremities…I am not sure even kids from Dharavi will relate to it..The game part was fun though…

  68. A R Rahman absolutely deserved this oscar. In fact, it’s come a bit too late. He’s about a decade ahead of his competition in India. He has all the skills and talents to compete with the best in world cinema. I’d love to see ARR compose music for renowned directors like chris nolan.

    See my full review of the movie ‘slumdog millionaire’ here.

  69. Let me be honest. ‘Jai Ho’ is an okay song. It would not rank in the top 25 songs of ARR. Rahman’s best compositions are in tamil movies. So even the hindi audience would not have heard the best of ARR.

    ARR should have certainly got the oscar therefore ‘Jai Ho’ is a lame reason. I’m okay with that. Now that ARR is very well known at the world stage, he’d get more awards, including oscar/grammy probably.

  70. Wow, I never thought that Zach Effron will ever know or speak the words ‘Gulzar’ and that happened!
    Well, I agree with you in many ways. It was a well made movie, but it maimed the competition for many reasons you mentioned. It’s almost like Harbhajan going out with a half century when no one expected. Danny’s best work is Trainspotting for me. I however, do not believe that it sold Indian poverty to the west that many allege. On the other hand, Indian directors sell the movie for the swiss alps views.
    Whenever something wins more than 4-5 awards, something has gone the outlier way. I think ‘Frozen river’, ‘visitor’ and ‘dark knight’ were the best of the lot and ‘Frozen river’ and ‘Slumdog’ achieved that at much lower $$.
    Kate Winslet was awesome in ‘The reader’, although it also counts in the customary nod to a holocaust movie!

  71. Please read the excerpt below from an article on The author of the book which inspired SD millionaire.

    * The name of the protagonist of the book is “Ram Mohammad Thomas” why was it deliberately changed to a muslim name in the film? when obviously the author of the book was trying to make the book free from any communal angle.

    * In the book the protagonist was an orphan since he was abandoned in a dustbin after birth. Why was it shown in the movie that he lost his mother in a hindu-muslim riot!

    Anybody else thinks, why Danny Boyle or the producers of the film had no other defamatory agenda against India as a country and Indians other than just to tell a story.

    I personally would have had no problems with the movie if they had stuck to the original plot in the book.

    What is the plot?

    My chapter starts with, ‘I have been arrested. For winning a quiz show.’ He is a pauper arrested for winning the quiz show. A lawyer comes to his help.

    He does not know Smita Shah, but since she came to save him, he accepts her help. He does not have money to pay her. He cannot even hire a taxi. Smita is a sutrdhar of the novel who appears in all chapters. She speaks well. She brings him to her home. She asks him how he did it. How did he know all the answers?

    He says, ‘I don’t know why I knew the answers. May be, my life is such that I came to know the answers.’

    She asks, ‘Let me go over your whole life.’

    He says, ‘May I start with year number one?’

    She says , ‘No, with question number one.’

    That is how there are 12 chapters in the novel and the last chapter is named the thirteenth question, when he wins the jackpot. I have explained his life story in each chapter and at the end comes the question.

    The difficult part of writing is plotting. I had to follow the etiquette of the quiz show. In the quiz show, easy questions are at the beginning and the tough one are at the end. It has to be good mix of questions on sports, science, history and other subjects.

    The toughest part is to ensure the questions are integral to the story. The readers should not feel that because of the questions I have contrived the story. Readers should feel that because of his life story he has been able to answer the questions.

    The second question to Ram on the quiz show is, ‘What is written on the Cross? NRI, INRI or RNI?’

    He explains how he became an orphan when he was left in a dustbin after birth. The first six years of his life he spends with a priest.

    My chapters are realistic, closer to life. That makes it unpredictable too. He meets an Australian diplomat, he becomes a guide at the Taj Mahal.

    I try to say that don’t dismiss somebody because his circumstances are bad. My plot revolves around Delhi, Agra and Mumbai.

  72. @ravi:
    Are you really stupid or trying too hard about it?
    “kal pennish roles..”? what the f%^k is wrong with kal penn? Have you seen him in ‘house’? in ‘namesake’?
    Also, whhy you are harping on pinto’s career choice? I think it could be fantastic move to relocate if offers are better overseas.

  73. Fun to read 🙂

    At least, the Oscars are not nominating Spiderman for best picture.

  74. Thanks for calling it out (This is movie *on* India not an Indian movie plz ) I have been trying to argue the same thing around here

    But must give it to Boyle. Dude is smart. Knows what gets going at Oscars. 10 mins into movie and I knew what was he up to.

    Although I did like the movie. Not sure whether it was Oscar worthy though. But then what is Oscar-worthyness anyways.

    Poverty,Holocast,Africa,Gaza…. hmmm

  75. I hope to goodness Anil Kapoor is not serious about his television role plans. Let’s face it if Anil Kapoor had got to host KBC, it would have been off air the very next day!

  76. @vjkrishna

    Brother, when you say that ARR’s best compositions are in Tamil which even the Hindi audience wouldn’t have heard, you are making a very generalized statement. Please refrain from doing this on this post.

    I am a part of the Hindi audience that appreciates a “Kadhalan” album as much as a “Munbe va” song.

  77. @Vjkrishna :- “Let me be honest. ‘Jai Ho’ is an okay song. It would not rank in the top 25 songs of ARR. Rahman’s best compositions are in tamil movies. So even the hindi audience would not have heard the best of ARR.”

    This is just ridiculous, this kind of patronizing is what hurts India the most. Just because he is Tamil doesn’t mean Rahman’s best work is in Tamil, It may be in your opinion, but who are you to claim that Hindi speaking people have not heard Rahman’s best ? Who decides what is Rahman’s best, Tamil Speaking folks like yourself ? Who cares if Hindi Audience have not heard the best ? Who cares if “Jai Ho” wasn’t his best ? The fact is that his talent was showcased and recognized on the world stage and is enough for me feel happy. That ‘Jai Ho’ is his best or not is a moot point and last thing in my mind.

  78. @Kishor
    I have a suggestion for you, take Rahman’s Oscar trophy and shove it up your a$$. This way trophy will be secured and non-southies won’t stake claim on it. Also, it must feel good to you.

    Personally I think Rahman is pretty ordinary keyboardist. I don’t care about his music.

  79. From the first 3 sentences one can sense the anger and irritation you have been facing since the awards.

    But I am just happy to be entertained reading such articles and also ones where we claim credit for its success.

    Go fanboys !

    P.S. : “For one, Slumdog Millionaire very deliberately and very effectively strikes many of the chords that Academy judges have been known to have a soft spot for.”

    Oh the good ol’ days of reasoning.

  80. @avichal:

    “I’m happy for Rahman, mind you, but do you really think Jai ho is a “great” song? Wait, I think I know the answer – you do.”

    It’s definitely the best song among the three that were nominated. And it won. Simple.

    Whether it is the best AR Rahman song is irrelevant. Do not get confused between an award for song versus career. Oscars for best song / score are given for specifics and not for career achievements. There is a separate category for career achievement, and Satyajit Ray won that if you remember.

    (As an exemplary aside, and at the risk of extending this irrelevant point, most Bengalis would agree that Gitanjali was not Tagore’s best work. Does that demean the importance of the Nobel?)

  81. GB, sadly you’re becoming another Raja Sen in the making.

    I just happened to read your pathetic review on Rock On.

    Has this something to do with the book you are writing? Did the publishers ask you to increase traffic on your blog and to get to that target, you’re being contrarian to get attention?

    I guess the C Grade movies have made you numb and you no longer appreciate good cinema.

    But I guess every rose has its thorns… (Wow, comparing you to a rose, how poetic is that).

    Never mind, as long as you keep writing about things other than movies, we’ll keep enjoying your work and at times when you go bonkers, we’ll have some fun at your expense. I’m sure you don’t mind.

  82. “The movies that make it to the nomination list, being of the “art-house” variety”, “Critics of the Academy complain that the jury has an irrationally pig-headed aversion for commercially successful movies”…Huh?? Are you looking from an Indian’s perspective? Cause’ as far as I know, all the movies nominated have HUGE commercial marketing efforts (the interviews, close-ups, ‘making off’s, etc…), and are decent enough money-churners in Hollywood.

    That is why I have never considered the Oscars great enough. The true great award is the Cannes, even to some extent the BAFTA.(Atleast they awarded Terry Gilliam!) Is ‘TV rating’ really a measure of the greatness of any truly prestigious movie award?

    Oscar, as you rightly said, can be ‘rigged’, but it certainly ain’t art-house. That is why probably, Danny had to ‘rig’ the system with Slumdog, and oh, Fincher had to ‘rig’ it with CCOBB! If Oscars were as ‘art-house’ as you claim, both of them would have received their statutettes for ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Fight Club’ respectively!

  83. @Rakesh:

    Great job Rakesh! Insulting two persons at one go – Greatbong and Raja Sen.

    Let me recommend a reviewer solidly up your alley. His name is Taran Adarsh. You can Google the name and read him. I am sure you will never come back to read inferior reviewers like GB and Raja Sen again!

    No need to thank me. Happy reading.

  84. Hi ,
    I have been reading all your blogs ,they are simply hilarious.
    With regards to criticizing SM i don’t think its a mediocre film. I beg to differ with many .The child actors are simply awesome.Fact remains a fact.
    Even after 60 yrs of independence our political system cannot even improve the basic amenities of the people .The scenes are all real .They are not fictitious .This is an eyeopener for ourselves .Mumbai shown the way it is .Its a fact.
    We Indians show disrespect to public facilities given to us.Simple things like throwing wrapper in the dustbins are not followed ,so how will our cities improve.
    Why are we criticizing the movie .Simple realistic movie with great child performances without any major star is giving many many awards other than the Oscars.

  85. @Shan: Again, I didn’t comment on the song’s award-worthiness. Maybe it really was the best among other mediocre nominations. All I asked was whether you consider it to be a “great” song independently. The reason I asked that was because you mentioned the film’s music as one of the chief factors that contributed to its greatness.

    I’m aware of the separate category for lifetime achievements, and I do remember Ray’s award quite well, thank you very much. What you probably haven’t noticed is that the popular sentiment surrounding Rahman’s award is mostly along the lines of “Oh, so the song isn’t all that great. Maybe it doesn’t even feature among Rahman’s top 20. So what? What’s important is that the man deserves the award for all the good work he’s done. Just be happy for him will ya?” Make no mistake, it actually is a career achievement award. But luckily, the Academy chanced upon a premature opportunity to present it. I have a nagging suspicion that if Satyajit Ray had had the opportunity of directing an international production, they would’ve done away with their obligation of acknowledging his talent much sooner.

  86. @Avichal:

    Regardless of popular sentiment, I still say the soundtrack is a fantastic one. O Saaya is also a great composition that blends seamlessly with the narrative. Jai Ho is a bookend that serves to reinforce the idea that this is actually a fairytale, like most Bollywood films. The songs are absolutely appropriate, and the Best Score was well deserved. You don’t agree. Fine. That doesn’t change anything. Is the score Rehman’s best? I don’t know. For me Dil Se is. For you it might be some other film. So what?

    “Make no mistake, it actually is a career achievement award. But luckily, the Academy chanced upon a premature opportunity to present it.”

    Ah I see. Eithr the Oscar committee have been following Rehman’s career intently all these years, just waiting to give him a career award, or the Great Indian Market engineered this. It’s all a conspiracy. Finally got it thanks. Keep drinking the Kool Aid.

  87. Hi all,
    What moved me more than the award was Resul Pookutty speech, where he mentioned the origins of OM and his very visible humility. I hope this recognition opens doors for his talents.

    ‘Just like if the “March of the Penguins” would have swept the Academy Awards, it would have been a glorious achievement of Antarctica and a proud day for all penguins.’
    I think those smart penguins of ‘Madascar’ would have crash-landed into Kodak theatre and ‘Happy Feet’s would have moonwalked in with Danny Devito for company.
    BTW, what is your comment on ‘Silence of The Lambs’ winning Oscars? That too best film?

    Arnab & fellow Mithun fans ! Here’s something little something from today’s Hindu – Metro section :

    @ those who think American Beauty, was not Oscar worthy!
    Which film do you think would have got it that year?

    @ Kishor
    You are so predictable, surprise us please!

    @ the one who thought that Arnab was criticising as the film did not have any Bengali connection/ Sour grapes etc!
    Yes Sir, you have understood us perfectly. With one Oscar, the two Nobels (narrowly missed the 3rd), we cannot help but gloat. Not to mention that our is the language, that gave rise to a nation (mini-migraine, it has become in the presently though).

  88. @ Benjamin Button disliker/s
    The film is yet to be released here, I have read the story after hearing about the film getting nominated for several Oscars. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story, send the link to friends. I guess, may be in your minds, you are stressing too much on Brad Pit (who is handsome and therefore cannot act)-in-Makeup bit. Please try and understand the story instead. The trouble with such stories is that, it’s meant for a niche reader. I guess you would have never enjoyed ‘One Hundred Years of Soltitude’ and may be ‘Midnights Children’ which is being made into a movie.

  89. The blog post and the comments remind me of similar conversations I had with some Mexican friends a couple of years ago. When I watched ‘Amores Perros’ of Alejandro Iñarritú (Who made Babel later on), I found it to be an excellent movie. But my friends criticised him saying that it was portraying a very violent image of Mexico and that’s why they didn’t like the movie. When the movie, ‘Y tu mamá también’ was getting international acclaim, many mexican intellectuals criticised the movie for selling a bad image of Mexico. I live in Spain and have worked with some cine researchers and film-students. Many of them believe that Pedro Almodovar is not the best Spanish director ever, and his movies don’t represent Spanish culture at all.
    The point is when we try to equate Slumdog’s success with Image of India or equating Slumdog’s success with triumph of India, we are exaggerating unnecessarily. Hollywood and the Academy have their typical tastes, parameters, priorities, political ideology and agenda. Slumdog fits into them and that’s why it won.
    I also wonder why nobody talks about Vikas Swarup and Q&A. I read the book and I find the book to be quite flat, uninspiring and just ordinary. If somebody who really deserves to be criticised for selling poverty of India, it should be our own Indian author, who wrote a book to appeal occidental tastes deliberately.

  90. @Shan: Since the discussion has veered into the “drink Kool-Aid, you mindless conformist” territory, I guess there’s no point to any further counter-arguments. Just one final clarification, and I promise this is the final one. A suggestion is not a conspiracy theory. Desperately trying to identify conspiracy theories in others’ viewpoints is in fact a symptom of a conspiracy theorist. Lifetime achievement award winners don’t have their careers monitored by the Academy throughout their lifetimes. When the moment arrives, a panel sits down to review their careers in totality.

    Here’s what I said: This was Rahman’s first truly international solo movie project. Popular opinion (disregarding your disregard for it) suggests, and quite reasonably so, that Rahman’s overall career graph (including prior international projects) did play a part in securing the award. Of course opinions vary when it comes to personal favourites, but I’ve not come across anyone who thinks this is among Rahman’s best works. But the award was well-deserved all the same.

    No conspiracy, no grape-flavoured beverages, certainly no Jonestown massacre.


  91. >Oscars passed over crowd -favorite ET in favor
    >what was perceived as an over-long, preachy
    >hagiography “Gandhi” in 1982
    not to mention it was the film which created the
    monster which insists on being called “SIR Ben Kingsley”.

    did you notice it was “regular old Anthony Hopkins” sharing
    the stage with Sir Ben.

  92. “Had Ledger not died, i suspect the Oscar committee would have completely overlooked Dark Knight”

    I say,
    Had the US of A not been in a recession, they would most definitely have neglected Slumdog Millionaire completely as well.

  93. Arnab Da,
    just watch What Anil kapoor does in the ‘StarDust’ award!

    Ekhono Telecast Hoyenih. Youtubey dekho, don’t miss it. It’s gonna be a Gem 🙂

  94. Ohh so it won!
    I guess they will announce it tax free now.
    Or they already did?

    And ohh yeah, congress should take credits, and should make a slogan for the upcoming elections, Vote for the Panja as they can make everybody a slumdog, obviously “millionaire” need to be forgotten.

    Government is the cause of the disease it tries to cure.

  95. @Unpretentious_Diva

    Yes it has been made tax free in Delhi, Maharashtra & Chattisgarh already…I think the rest will also follow…

  96. The comment space for this post has hosted many mini-battles.
    Best pair – Shan and Avichal. Result: Avichal-4/Shan-3 Winner: Avichal 🙂

    I never knew the Mexicans and the Spanish didn’t like those films. Thanks for bringing it up. That sort of smothers my slumdog dislike. If I hadn’t been Indian, I might have been moved at slumdog’s celebration of human spirit. Damn, that’s scary. O.o

  97. i saw slumdog millionaire yesterday and to be honest, it didnt touch me…i really tried to…but it just didnt….maybe it wud have if there was no such great expectations attached to it…it was like finally getting angelina jolie into ur bed to find out only that shes just another body in a different skin…

  98. @ tys…try me 😛

  99. Well, it is a known fact that the Oscars are in no way the felicitation of the best in cinema, it is very much a lobbying campaign undertaken by the respective studios to generate the buzz, create some hype and appeal to the voters. Doesn’t necessarily mean that the candidates are the best in the business.
    With that said, this was a film that was going to be released by Warner’s straight to DVD as they had no clue what to do with it. It was purely incredible good fortunate that they passed it on to 20th Century who decided to take a risk and promote this film.

    After it’s market debut at the AFM, there was an initial two print release in all major cities after which the film picked up and it is indeed phenomenal the way it has.
    The point I am trying to make is that there maybe better films out there, but the point that a little low-budget indie caper like this could make that all important breakthrough and generate phenomenal amounts of money (will cross 100 million in the U.S alone) despite all odds is a matter of supreme amazement.
    There are also the numerous fringe benefits associated with it- recognition for the cast and crew, plethora of opportunity to work with international banners, but most importantly the greater infusion of Hollywood money into the Indian film industry. It really is a win, win situation in more ways than one.

    But it is fashionable to hate, so yeah right on 😛

  100. @ ThepProbe
    ” not to mention it was the film which created the
    monster which insists on being called “SIR Ben Kingsley”.”
    Man….that guy is one of the greatest actors the world has ever seen….u might not like Gandhi as a movie but why abuse him,or even a ” Regular Anthony Hopkins” ? They might be oscar favorites…but is it…. their fault?or…is it their …. fault?

  101. Well if that hairy bugger can get an oscar, why leave out our bhagwaan mithun.
    I don’t like this. Release “Hitler” the movie, in the US. We will have the zionists after it too, thereby increasing publicity for the movie.

    Next year – inshallah- we shall see Mithunda doing “ai saala” at the oscars…..

  102. I am happy on slumdog’s win. Now Oscar is copying film’FAIR’award. If ‘Raja Hindustani’ can win film’FAIR’then what’s wrong slumdog winning oscar.

  103. A lots been said on this forum about how Slumdog is a Western attempt to depict India in a poor light. But what about American Beauty people? That’s a movie that showcases exactly whats wrong with American society today. That won Oscars too, didn’t it? I mean they’re pretty upfront about their own shortcomings and i think we should appreciate that.

    Secondly, everything about India shown in the film is TRUE. I mean its not a fantasy model that they’ve created. The poverty, Hindu-Muslim antagonism, class differential everything is Fact, not fiction.

    I don’t know you Greatbong, but i can venture a guess as to why someone like you wouldn’t like Slumdog. You’re a brown skinned man in a White country, where even today people have this third worldly perception of India as a land of Cows and snake charmers. You can never be one of “them” and so when they see you, they think of India as mentioned and know you come from that sort of a place. That undermines your status amongst them, and that is why you were bound not to like Slumdog.

  104. the only priceless aspect of the whole slumdog affair has been the clip of Anil Kapur saying ‘Hollywood and bollywood coming twogaythaar’ in his newly acquired American accent

  105. LOL.. We’re talking about people who awarded almost a dozen awards to Titanic! Why are we even acknowledging this?

    By the way, Slumdog won on the grounds of no contest. Please let me know which nomination deserved it more? They already eliminated the brilliant Dark Knight by not even nominating it. I don’t know what they have against super-hero films?

    The funniest was that Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for Tropic Thunder. Cheers to that! (I feel he should have been nominated for Iron Man)

  106. Well one thing is positive with all this slumdog episode.

    Now we can say that Gandhi was no better than a slumdog.

    I guess that movie Gandhi also got some foreign awards.
    Also i guess that movie was also made by some foreign production house.

    Lol gandhi won the chance to foool 36 million indians of than India. and this new slumdog provided a story of becoming millionaire.

    it might have been better is instead millionaire, he could have be exactly slumdog “36” millionaire.

  107. Mithun Da is a brilliant actor, he has got 4 national Awards.
    Kaasam Paida Karne wale ki!

  108. @Puloma:

    There is nothing wrong with the Indian actors who were a part of the movie to go up to the stage and accept the awards. Irfan, AK, and the other actors deserved to be there. What are you talking about servile attitude? Till another organization can come up with bigger better honors than Oscar, it is still the highest recognition the motion picture industry doles out,( until ofcourse “fimfare awards” in Mumbai becomes the mother of all awards). Ask anyone actor Black, white, brown or any other color, it is the ultimate recognition and a life time acievement for some. Forget about the movie “SM” which was cheesy and mediocre. It was good to see all those little kids being recognized for their contribution and be a shining example for millions of hopeless souls. For some it may just last 15 minutes, but there will be others who will seize this opportunity to make a difference somewhere… somehow.

    For the song and dance and the melodrama and hyper acting in Indian movies- you have to understand that for millions of South east Asians, that is the only means of escapism from the daily grind of life. 3 hours of fantasy to forget worldly issues and get lost in a dream land. Early American cinema were musicals if you remember….? For pseudo- intellectuals like us who scrunch our nose at mainstream indian cinema we conveniently forget how we loved the action, romance and songs when we were growing up. Sure it is hard to swallow it these days as now we have grown out of it, but some people will never will and there is nothing wrong with that.

  109. Where is your Luck by Chance review?
    I am sad.

  110. Sure, Slumdog is not a great movie by any means.

    However, beg to differ on your thoughts on Gandhi. I think its a great movie.

  111. I just couldnt stand the glee on Anil Kapoor’s face…it was just so….foolish of him to stand there on the stage and wave the Oscar in his hand. He wasnt even that good in the movie. (Only the little kids were, Dev & Freida suck at acting)Modesty certainly not a virtue, Mr Kapoor.

  112. “Khelta ja khelta ja baaziyon pe baaziyaan”

    haha Zindagi ek Jua!! nice 🙂

  113. >abhinab Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:12 am

    >” not to mention it was the film which created the
    >monster which insists on being called “SIR Ben Kingsley”.”
    >Man….that guy is one of the greatest actors the world has
    >ever seen….u might not like Gandhi as a movie but why abuse him,
    >or even a ” Regular Anthony Hopkins” ? They might be oscar
    >favorites…but is it…. their fault?or…is it their …. fault?
    this has nothing to do with my thoughts on Gandhi-the-movie.
    it’s a matter of Ben Kingsley being a prick … Anthony Hopkins
    is also knighted but doesnt go around introducing himeslf as
    Sir Anthony …

    See. e.g.

  114. I wonder why only Irrfan is chosen by every damn western directors from Wes Anderson to Danny Boyle. However, it was nice to see him in Tux at the Oscar stage, though your post doesn’t mention him. ( You did’nt like him in Namesake?)

    Surely, “March of the Penguins” would have swept the Academy Awards, it would have been a glorious achievement of Antarctica and a proud day for all penguins, especially when one Penguin composes the music and another designs the sound.

    More than the cinematic quality of Slumdog, it’s the overhyped sytem of ‘Oscar’ which creates the furor, it’s like a ‘brand’.
    Whether slumdog becomes a Rashomon or Chunking Express or Pather Panchali, only time will tell.

    But, American Beauty on the same line in The Godfather for cinematic excellence ?? Indigestion *burp*

  115. Just like if the “March of the Penguins” would have swept the Academy Awards, it would have been a glorious achievement of Antarctica and a proud day for all penguins.

    Bang on!! 😀 😀

  116. I finally watched SM yesterday. Gosh! It is barely a mediocre… to… probably just a good movie. It has its moments, I concede. The kids acted extremely well, in my opinion. Overall, I enjoyed it. But award worthy? Really? I will never figure out Oscar but then, I have known that for some time now. AR Rahman getting the awards was nice but kinda feels like a pro getting a college championship award after excelling in the professional circuit for decades. His music for this movie was really mediocre by his standards.
    Anyways, Arnab, I read your post a couple of times but couldn’t understand the significance of the title. Do not recall it happen before. Why did you name it ‘Dog Day Afternoon’? I guess I am a bit slow today.

  117. “Dog Day Afternoon” just a reference to the Sidney Lumet film, one of my very favorites and the “Dog Day” a shorthand for “Every dog has its day”…

  118. Ah, of course… I have watched it a zillion times… I told you I was having a slow day 🙂

  119. >>> The other angle we need to take in order to understand Slumdog’s sweep is to look at the Academy Awards itself, the alarming decline in its popularity and the threat to its existence as a publicly broadcast spectacle. Last year, the Oscars had its lowest viewership ever and though there was a partial rebound this year (third poorest ever), the fact remains that the awards ceremony, as a sustaining money making enterprise, is in jeopardy.

    Completely agree. That’s what I thought too. And this is very true.

  120. Peeple in the West (ie me) are completely bored of the so-called NRI-movies, that say nothing about nothing. I’m glad to see a piece of India that hasn’t been Bollywood-ised, and isn’t populated by vacuous Bollywood ‘actors’. I’m very glad that Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan were in this Slumdog movie.
    Congratulations to cast and crew.Quite frankly GB, whatever the reasons for the Oscar success, it was dead nice to see those kids in Hollywood and not all the ususal suspects.

  121. Its like entire Uganda celebrating when Forest Whitaker won the Academy award for The Last King of Scotland….

  122. Rakesh:

    If Vikas Swarup got the Booker, I will become a serial killer and kill all previous booker winners, and then kill myself…

  123. Every reviewer in America rated it highly

    Not everyone. Michael Sicinski gave it a 3/10.

    Am I part of a backlash on this one? Hard to say, since I certainly came to it with full knowledge of its overblown hype, but I was also kind of rooting for Slumdog, seeing as I’m a fan of latter-day Boyle (esp. 28 Days Later and Sunshine). But the fact is Slumdog doesn’t deliver on its promise, and it seems to me that it promises quite a lot. Depending on your point of view, the film is a romantic fairy tale of Jamal (Dev Patel), the Muslim slum kid from Mumbai, who makes it all the way to the final question on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” all to impress his long lost love, Latika (Freida Pinto). His travails along the way only show the adversity this daring young boy must overcome. But does the film have anything at all to say about India? We get young kids playing on the megalopolis trash heaps, violent outbreaks of the Hindu / Muslim conflict, Oliver Twist-style orphan exploitation, the loss of his brother to mobsters, eventual low-level employment at a call center, and, once Jamal starts succeeding on the game show, torture under interrogation by shady police. The question is, are these moments to be taken seriously, as social critique, or are they just “the bad stuff” that our hero must undergo in order to satisfy his quest to reunite with his beloved? The tagline, “It is written” gives a clue, but these grim interludes take up so much of the screen time it’s difficult to just write them off as mere plot hurdles. Boyle does seem to have an investment in showing us hard times in “the real India,” but the fairy tale demands of Slumdog mean that these hardships are so overblown (while simultaneously being subjected to Anthony Dod Mantle’s aestheticizing, high-neon cinematography) as to ask a Western viewer to recoil, getting our “exceptionalist” hackles up. (“Well, tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you….”) Slumdog, in its brightest moments and its darkest, never departs from a touristic and yes, a colonialist gaze, even as it tries to be frivolous, frothy uplift. But perhaps more damning still is that Slumdog is a dull slog of a film. Whether this is because Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy cannot ascertain whether or not they are committed to partial seriousness, or if the problem is that the filmmakers simply can’t “do” action, car chases, romantic sweep, or the vicarious thrill of being on a game show, I’m not sure. But all of these elements fall flat on the screen, and this is made all the more apparent by the question-by-question flashback structure, since, rather like a Michael Snow or Hollis Frampton film, Slumdog never lets you forget just how much more of its running time you have yet to undergo. But what do I know? Folks are falling in love with Slumdog left and right, so it seems to hit some strange pleasure center that is clearly dead in me. Nevertheless, no excuse for an idiot contrivance like a bathroom break between a question and an answer. Please. [link]

  124. Hara Hara bom bom March 1, 2009 — 10:36 am

    ================================================ &moreurl=|3750182|3750183|3750184|3750185&nextIndex=1

    ANISaturday, February 28, 2009 19:19 IST Email

    Mumbai: Slumdog Millionaire child star Azharuddin had a rather painful homecoming after attending the Oscars, for the boy was beaten up by his father just because he wanted to have some rest.

    Slumdog Millionaire child star Azharuddin had a rather painful homecoming after attending the Oscars, for the boy was beaten up by his father.Mohammed Ismail slapped and kicked his 10-year-old son in front of shocked neighbours and passers-by soon after he flew back to India from Los Angeles, where he and his other young co-stars watched as their movie picked up eight Oscars.

    Azharuddin, who plays young hero Jamal, got tears in the eyes and ran back inside his home, cowering and begging his father to stop while trying to hide in a corner.

    The young star had been given the day off school after his long flight and wanted to take rest, but his father wanted to show him off outside their home.

    And when the boy didn’t agree, the 45-year-old father, who is hoping his son could be his ticket to get out of Mumbai’s Dharavi slum, launched his attack while his mother pleaded Ismail to stop.

    “Azharuddin’s father was upset that he was asking to be left alone because he was so tired. He didn’t attend school today so that he could recover from his long flight from LA and simply wanted all the attention to stop. However, when Azharuddin put his foot down and said that was it and there was to be no more talking, Ismail just flipped,” the Sun quoted one stunned onlooker as saying.

    However, Azharuddin’s return to the slums was another picture altogether when his father had lifted him up and paraded him like a trophy.

    Just a few hours after the attack, TB patient Ismail apologised for the attack, saying: “I was very sorry I did what I did. I was confused and stressed by my son’s homecoming and I did not know myself for a minute. I love my boy and I am very happy to have him home.”

  125. No Posts for a week !!! 😦

  126. What’s sadder than Slumdog Millionaire are people who hated Slumdog Millionaire and are angry it won the Oscars…. I mean when did the Oscars become the benchmark for good cinema??

  127. Issue is not that India has been portrayed this way or dat way. Let’s face it, it assuages gora guilt at wrecking multiple civilization “I told you, that country was shiteous in any case, we did not not do anything wrong”. It also helps the likes of World Vision raise money for their conversion efforts. BUT many such movies have been made, books written and songs sung.
    What grates me is the reaction of the Desis. We are behaving as if we got some nice chewy bones from our masta’s. Our white masta’s showed us some luv. The word for this kind of an individual (which our media and english speaking brown sahibs epitomize) is house nigger.
    When Mel Gibson (aka Vatican) released “Apocalyto (another attempt at showing pre white/pre christian civilizations in Central America as barbaric) the reaction by the Mayas was swift. The movie was condemned, not publicized and turned out to be a flop. No one dared bring it up again. They don’t have too many coconuts out there. Morales and Chavez have shown that

  128. I don’t understand why most people are focusing on the societal rung that was portrayed and overlooking the theme of hope in the movie. It might not be the best movie I have ever seen, but it had a certain something in it. ‘Jai Ho’ isn’t anything that I would have stopped to watch in the movie theater, but the gora audience seemed to have been captivated by it. (I watched it in AMC Boston Common) For them, it was a novelty probably.

    I wonder what if the Johars made a movie like SM. The slum would probably have been in New York with Jamal alighting from a custom designed bike, ’cause he is too poor to buy custom made cars !

    Rehman measured his words well. Though, his second speech seemed deeper and more spontaneous. ‘ All my life I had two options – to love and to hate. I chose to love.’ Hmm.

    And someone please tell Anil Kapoor that if he is old enough to be Sonam Kapoor’s Dad, he is old enough to have some more grace.

    @Hara Hara bom bom Interesting article there. I didn’t know about the kid. He was adorable in the movie.

  129. Here is a wonderful article about top ten atrocities ever committed by the Academy decision makers:

    This one echoes my feelings.

  130. I think the movie is discussed more than it deserves to be

  131. Good post.

    There is nothing wrong in showing the dark underbelly of any city, but we all know why the Academy was drooling over this mediocre movie. For them, it was the perfect poverty porn with every cliche about India in the book.

    Extending the same argument to other themes, We know why “THE LAST EMPEROR(of china)” and “The (British)King’s Speech” get the Same kind of accolades.
    and why “Ekalavya” or “Lagaan” will NEVER get a second glance from their critics and press.

    Academy has always had this nasty habit of praising some stupid movie as an exquisite work of art. However, in the case of SDM, they went overboard, resulting in this huge WTF moment for the entire movie going world.

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