You know the feeling when you suppress something for an awfully long time and eventually let go? No am not talking about Ramalinga Raju, but my December and January. 4 intriguing films, an entire concert season and 3 weeks on Mumbai and Delhi roads meant there were tonnes to tell….but its amazing how awfully hard it is to get the internet, time and ‘state of mind’ – all in the same room, so you can write the hell out of it. Nevertheless, its good to be back!
There is a scene in Slumdog, where the boys look through the key hole of the brothel room and see young Latika’s torso twirling to a kathak movement, illuminated by a thin light beam. At that instant, it hit me that Boyle has crossed the rather thick line between ‘a film on India’ and ‘an Indian film’.
Its amazing how a film with lines as cheesy as “I thought we will meet only at death”, “I love you….so what?”, “the slumdog barks”, “is this heaven” and “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” actually made it to so many festivals and awards (the red carpet has been rolled out at the kodak theatre as I write). But when you really think about it, it is quite a smart film.
‘Subtitle’ is among the worst things that ever happened to cinema (just behind George Clooney as Batman) and Danny gave it an interesting twist in Slumdog when he decided to have it beside the character and not at the bottom of the screen – its traditional home, where for decades it has been stealing viewers’ eyeballs from beautiful frames. Its a small and stupid thing, but boy it worked.
‘City of God’, ‘Amores Perros’ and ‘Malena’ were in the native tongue. The characters did not have an accent and nobody found it odd in Latin America. They were landmarks in cinematic history, but more people would watch Slumdog Millionaire.
‘Salaam Bombay’ or ‘City of Joy’ would never make it to any list of popular films, though they are essentially the same DNA as slumdog. Only that Boyle decided to almost make it a series of music videos on arguably Rahman’s most neo and experimental album till date. The opening police chase, the escape, the brilliantly shot train sequence….nice!
The rioters are on the other side of the railway platform and the kids are playing in the water. It is a shot from Jamal’s POV as the boy plunges into the water and gets up. As he rises, the audio goes muffled like as though water went into the ears of the camera. Resul deserves a sound oscar just for those 15 seconds!
I saw another film on the underbelly of India last week, called ‘Naan Kadavul’ (That one needs a blog by itself). More morbid, more disturbing and even more honest. It had real people and not actors, but the tone was so mellowed down that it did not really get you out there. Whereas with SM, you could almost feel the heat and the dust. May be rightfully enough, they have just handed over the best cinematography oscar to it. Just that I cannot believe that an effort like Dark Knight would miss out….IMAX and all 😉
But the lasting image for me from the film, more than a month after seeing it is the frame of Rubina Ali….dusty, sweaty and heavenly, under a sodium vapour lamp.