Monday, February 9, 2009

The millionaire

Too late to write you think so. Well, not really. Its still there. A hot topic even at the Oscars. Slumdog Millionaire. The lesser words said about it, the better. Reality bites. An amazing portrayal of Mumbai and the life at Dharavi slum. Can’t get better than this. I am not saying that films have not been made on the slum or the life there. It has been. Books have been written. But, this kind of perfection, you would not find anywhere else.
Just a thought…if it was an Indian filmmaker, this script would have not seen these good days. No offence to Indian filmmakers. The perfection in editing and cinematography is practically possible only by Hollywood or Western filmmakers. Maybe it would just take a Sathyajit Ray to make such a film.

The film has a mild touch of City of God. If you have not watched this one, then its not worth it by saying that you are a movie buff or whatever. Gory, yet, reality. A Brazilian movie about a kid called Rocket who grew up in the violence in a slum and goes up to be the underdog and also does a Robin Hood stunt. The concept of `The Three Musketeers’ in Slumdog Millionaire also seems to have been borrowed from City of God, which has `The Tender Trio’.

Danny Boyle has for sure been influenced by that script. At the same time, he has kept the flavour of Bollywood and Indian filmmaking. Even the titles have a 70s look, just like he mentions Amitab Bhachchan and his film Zanjeer. It does remind you of your childhood when you grew up watching his films. Everything about the film is breathtaking.

If you still have not watched Slumdog Millionaire…then you must. A synopsis for you:

Danny Boyle
Loveleen Tandan (co-director: India)
Simon Beaufoy (screenplay) and
Vikas Swarup (novel)
Love and money... You have mixed them both.
Slumdog Millionaire is the story of Jamal Malik (Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India¹s "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"

But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika (Pinto), the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show¹s questions.

Each chapter of Jamal¹s increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show¹s seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really doing on the game show?

When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out.

Monday, January 19, 2009


She screamed, shrill voice filling the silent air. ``They killed my brother. My brother. He was beaten to death’’…..a pause to breath and then screams again…continued by the same sentence.

She ran from from pillar to the other, pulling her hair. Her mother and sister cried. The three women were hounded by lights; camera lights belonging to various news channels. Reporters waited; waited, for her to stop the screaming. All of this at 12 am.

Then there came a disaster, like, she was waiting for it. A senior police officer came walking towards the three women. She sprang, charged and hit him. But, fortunately, she hit his chest. The officer was taken aback and was later covered by his sub-ordinates. The media ran towards him and he struggled to straighten up and give a statement.

``Arun stabbed someone called Vijay and was brought to the police station. He complained of chest pain at 9.30 pm and we took him to a private hospital. We have not beaten him up’’. He ended his statement and walked off.

While he was talking, she continued screaming. Mala, the older sister of Arun Kumar, who had died while in police custody at the Frazer Town police station, did not let a tear fall off her eyes, but, she wanted to express her anger.

They (Arun’s relatives) said that he was a poor florist with a shop at Mosque road. His wife Radhika had committed suicide two months ago and the couple has a daughter called Sharon. Merely two years old. Now, she is orphaned. ``They (the police) beat us up when we demanded to see his body,’’ said Pratap. And then he showed bruises, to make the media believe him.

Arun’s wife had doused herself with kerosene and then set herself ablaze, said Pratap. ``Arun tried saving her, but, he failed and had injured his right hand,’’ he said.

Suddenly, the relatives decided to go to a private hospital in Coles Park, where Arun was taken initially.

Then the crowd shifted to the hospital, where the scene was worse. The relatives had pelted stones at the premises and the shattered glass blocked the entrance of the hospital. As I entered inside, scared doctors and nurses ran into their rooms, shutting the door. Mala ran into the hospital and cried again, ``I can’t see his body. I don’t want to see it. I don’t have the strength’’. A relative told her that his body was not there and it had been shifted to a government hospital.

The doctor at the private hospital, very politely told me, ``He was brought dead, Madam. There were no bruises’’.

The crowd again shifted to the government hospital and later dispersed at 1.30 am.
The next morning, all statements seemed to change. Doctors were conducting a postmortem examination. Arun’s uncle told the media that Arun had a drinking problem and he had even been admitted at Ambedkar Medical College for a liver malfunction. ``There were no bruises on his body. His stomach had gone in and his eyes were open, when we saw the body. Looks like he died of the liver failure,’’ said Pratap.

A human rights activist came up to me and said, ``something is fishy here’’. I looked at him and shook my head in agreement. There were seven inspectors from various police stations from the East division gathered at the hospital. A media reporter asked one of them, ``Sir, why are you here? This is not your case’’. He replied, ``we have to support our neighbouring stations, when calamity strikes’’ and he walked away, grinning, like he had done the most heroic deed.

The family then brought two-year-old Sharon. She was clinging onto her aunt—Buela, scared and confused. The media rushed towards her and clicked million pictures and then she was taken away.

The police later in the evening released a statement. ``Arun, prima facie, was psychic’’. ``He had killed his wife. He had a drinking problem’’. Silence filled the air again and the screams had finally stopped.