Slumdog Takes Home The Millions And The Oscar!
Slumdog Millionaire took home all the major awards including best director for Danny Boyle and best film at the Oscars tonight. The show was laced with a Slumdog theme from the very beginning. The songs, a performance by A R Rahman and a Bollywood dance routine during the ceremony all built up anticipation of the finale. It was heartening to see the child-actors from Slumdog Millionaire who had been flown in by Fox Searchlight for the ceremony. They were interviewed by CNN and in their adorable voices gave details of the excitement of their first flight. Freida Pinto looked ravishing and she and co-actor Dev Patel graciously pulled cameras and microphone towards the child-actors crediting the little ones with the film's success. This victory will hopefully bring more attention to the cause of street children.
The Oscars for a while have been struggling with translating a good show into great television. A R Rahman's catchy tunes and the drums made me sit up and take notice after watching Hugh Jackman peddle lukewarm comedy and sing a somewhat clumsy medley with Beyonce. The night's obvious favorites were The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire and all bets were off once Danny Boyle won for Best Director.
When I watched the film a while ago, I was struck by both, the depiction of extreme poverty and the utter adventure of a street-child's life. Having visited Mumbai, I noticed that Danny Boyle had zoomed in on the slums and left a lot of the city out. This seems purposeful. In my opinion he may have done so simply to underscore the ultimate victory and rise of the underdog in a shorter duration; the harsher the protagonist's beginnings, the greater the altitude of his ultimate success at the film's finale. Plenty Hindi films use similar trends in their escapist success stories but since a Hindi film is longer and has fewer themes within the plot, the transition from the rags to riches is not as speedy or as drastic as in Slumdog Millionaire. This likely makes the initial scenes of Jamal's misfortune in Slumdog Millionaire much too dire for the taste of the Indian audience.
In current times of economic recession and hopelessness the victory of the underdog seems to have translated into a global message that one is thirsty for in every part of the world. Some Indians blogging about the success of Slumdog have commented about how the film may damage Indian tourism and the international image of the nation's commercial capital once foreigners see the slums and grime. As an American, I found it interesting that not many of these writers directed their angst towards the system that allows such dearth to stagnate in the midst of a city that has risen from terrorist attacks and floods in the past few years. I came across only a few bloggers who have documented what Slumdog's success would mean for the numerous charities that aid street children in Mumbai. Every member of the Slumdog Millionaire team who won in tonight's Oscar had the highest commendations for Mumbai. I watched both the film and the Oscar ceremony with fellow-Americans who immediately expressed an interest in wanting to visit Mumbai and in contributing towards organizations involved in the education and rehabilitation of street-kids. Towards the end of the show it was clear that the message of hope showcased in Slumdog Millionaire resounded in Hollywood and seems to have captivated the Academy as well. As a major buff of Hindi films I am hopeful that Slumdog Millionaire's success will open up new avenues for scripts and roles for Indian actors here in Hollywood. Considering the immense talent that the Hindi film industry houses, Hollywood could only benefit from being able to borrow themes of romance and escapism from this colorful and lively film industry across the seas. This shout-out for the largest film industry in the world from Hollywood has been long overdue and may be the beginnings of a fruitful collaborative bridge between the two industries.
A R Rahman was humble as ever in accepting two awards for best soundtrack and best song (with Gulzar) for the foot-tapping Jai Ho. His acceptance speech may very well be the answer to all the Slumdog Millionaire haters out there who weren't able to get over the portrayals of poverty and destitution in the film.
"In life I have always had the choice between hate and love" Rahman said, his face remarkably calm in the face of such achievement, "I always chose love and now I am here" he concluded, victoriously raising his golden statuette.
Slumdog Takes Home The Millions And The Oscar!
- » Published on February 23, 2009
- » Type: Opinion
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