Oh well. I will never, ever review a movie again. I know I stopped doing so ages ago, but just in case I ever think of it again, I will not.
I should have known it, you know, the fact that Slumdog Millionaire would bag the Oscars. It’s a case of history repeating itself. No, no, not any first-slum-movie history, but JB’s-film-reviewing history. It seems that the moment I declare any movie the biggest crap, it goes and sweeps awards.
The first time it happened, I was panned publically – and online – because of my review of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s scam-for-art, Black. Yes, THAT Black. I had given the movie two-and-a-half stars declaring, ‘It’s bleak for Bhansali’s Black’. It did not matter that Pooja Bhatt and Dipak Tijori wrote/called me to congratulate me on a good review…. As far as the public was concerned, I was way off the mark. Numerous and then some readers and bloggers declared that it was my film reviewing career that was bleak and the bloody movie (I still hate it completely) went on to win Filmfare awards and more.
Another was Bhansali’s Devdas – I didn’t review it, but hated it nonetheless – which also won awards. More recently, I have been asked by EVERY single Australian I’ve met, “What do you think of Slumdog Millionaire?” Most don't really care about what I think; it’s just a convenient conversation-filler. But I have my fun and proceed to bore the person asking that question with e.x.a.c.t.l.y. what I think/thought was wrong about the movie. Now, it goes and wins the Best Movie at the 81st Academy Awards (aka Oscars). I know that am going to have even more people asking me about Slumdog… and India. Sigh. A thought: Do those of us who dislike Slumdog, do so because it's simply not that great a movie or perhaps, because it embarrasses us as Indians? I know I didn't think much of it as a movie, but I am not certain if my reactions don't include a bit of the other emotion as well... Read this.
You know, India seems to confound and confuse most people; Bollywood even more so. I am still trying to understand my own reactions to my country and Bollywood and more so towards what people think of both...
Like this well-meaning bloke asked me, “Does India have arm-wrestling?” EH?! I don't know if I was amused or offended. But the answer would be, no, arm-wrestling is too tribal, India just has world chess grandmasters. Then there are those who demand, “Can you do Bollywood-style dancing?” and proceed to lift their hands in the air and do something that is a cross between bad dancing and bad aerobics. Or ask me, “Show us some Bollywood moves,” and wait with a wicked gleam in their eyes. Well, sorry, no. Firstly, you are not paying me to dance and secondly, you will not be able to. Not when you are smacking of misplaced superiority that is! I've heard there are many non-Indians here who enjoy Bollywood; I'm still to meet any. As for Bollywood dancing, ANY Indian can do it. Even Indians who quote Satyajit Ray and scoff at commercial Hindi cinema know at least one Bollywood dance move. Our 23rd chromosome IS the dancing chromosome.
And now Slumdog has smacked people in the face and Jai ho – which in my view is very, very average Rahman fare – has won best original score. Funny, our average is a global best.
So Hugh Jackman (what a tasty man!) announces “The musical is BACK!” and everyone cheers. Er, I don’t see the excitement because India and Bollywood have been producing musicals for like, ages. Try 1950s. Yet people ask me, “Why does Bollywood have so much singing and dancing?” Because we like to! And we can. Because every Indian state, every 50 kms you travel in the country, has its own dance form. Because as a child, mere me has learnt the Bharatnatyam, Kathak and danced the gidda. Because India has more things to talk about than four versions of Underbelly (Melbourne underworld), Gallipoli (with due respect), the indigenous people (even more respect) or numerous shows on every possible government department (emergency services, firemen, customs, immigration police, trillion cop shows etc)?
So Slumdog wins. While it’s a feather in Danny Boyle’s cap, I wonder if it will translate into anything for Bollywood as an industry. Or will it, perversely, just validate what the world is apparently saying about Indians now: “India and Indian youth have a new-found aggression.” You hear it during cricket commentary, each time the Indian economy is mentioned or even the rise of the Indian middle class. I find it a little irksome. Indians have been always been aggressive; we are global masters at bargaining for a reason. Just that the world has developed new ears I think. Anyway.
Irrespective of what I think of Slumdog, I am really happy for two of my favourite artistes, AR Rahman and Anil Kapoor. The latter hardly had a role in Slumdog and has delivered a winning performance every two-three years.
Here’s my list of favourite Anil Kapoor movies and moments:
- Virasat: I love the way he transforms from UK-returned to son-of-the-soil; the scene before the interval where he comes out looking like his father still gives me goose-bumps… Amrish Puri was the best on-screen pairing with Anil I think.
- Parinda: it was supposed to be a Nana Patekar movie, but Anil’s vulnerability was unparalled
- Ram-Lakhan: hahaha, I love him when he plays the rogue. And that moochie. Again, Amrish Puri!
- Nayak: Perhaps not the greatest of movies, but there’s something very earnest about Anil’s character. Yet again, with Amrish Puri.
- Tezaab: Ah. The rogue woman-charmer who turns into someone with a burning vengeance. He just fits the role of tapori…
- Mr India: “Anil bhaya” at his best. Cute, charming and one of our best attempts at science fiction, if I may!
- Vande Mataram
- Rangeela, first hindi music with original score
- Rang De Basanti
- Dil se
- Bombay, the six tracks he composed
Related: Is Slumdog Millionaire a poverty porn?