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Slumdog Millionaire

January 12, 2009

This review was written a month before the Oscar awards, 2009:

I am extre……….mely happy that AR RAHMAN, another genius born and brought up in Chennai became the first Indian to receive a Golden Globe award for his original music score. But i also feel, there are other better works of Rehman that remain largely unknown to the western world.

Finally bollywood music is world famous now. Not that it was less popular in Asia. Once i saw even an obituary for Mohd. Rafi in a malaysian newspaper. That is the reach of indian music.

I know Chennai receives a lot of students from US and Europe to study classical music and learn instrumental music & classical dance forms like Bharat Natyam but bollywood/filmi music was always on the sidelines only.

AR Rehman, an alumni of PSBB school, has a worldclass studio built right at home. His magnanimity is such that, he lets other tamil music directors use his ultra sophisticated studios for recording – for free. A friend lives closer to his home in KK Nagar. I never miss a chance to peer at his house closely whenever i go there. More than his music, his humility always touches me. He deserves this success 100%. As a boy, named Dilip Kumar (he converted to islam only in his 18th year – his mother and sisters & their families still remains hindu) he has played keyboard in many lightmusic troupes in Chennai before he became famous.

One thing i luv most about him is that, he attends PSBB alumni meet whenever possible. LOoks like his daughters are going to the same school. So nice of him to talk so warmly about Mrs. YGP who is the school correspondent who is so very old.

His father Shekhar was a music composer too – who died in poverty. From light music, Rehman started composing Ad. jingles for TV and that was when he was spotted by director Mani Ratnam who used him for the film Roja. His rise has been phenomenal – and again i have to say, i salute his humility and simplicity through all this success.

Rehman’s nephew GV Prakash Kumar is a leading composer for tamil films right now – and he is just 20 years too. But he seems to lack the sort of discipline and humility Rehman always has had with him from his teenage.

Rehman has dedicated the Golden Globe award to India. ‘Jay ho’ today reverberates round the world now – a voice of my magnificient India – thanx to him.

I saw Slumdog Millionaire just now with my son. I know it is a 100% true and realistic story – and it touched the very core of my soul. I know this is what is happening in not just Mumbai slums but in slums elsewhere in the country including Chennai. (and can’t u see this in the slums of the west too among the blacks?) (including chennai? i am not sure. Chennai might not be a worldclass city but it hardly has slums like mumbai, delhi – but i can understand mumbai’s problems. Influx of migrant labourers from other states/countries like bangladesh, nepal is the greatest problem there and Mumbai’s population is about 22 million whereas Chennai’s is 8 million. I don’t think Chennai has the sort of vices shown in Slumdog. In Mumbai ofcourse, it is a distinct possibility)

I have seen child labourers all thro’ my life .- i have seen children grow up too fast – losing their innocence too early. Of late, child labourers have vanished from Chennai almost 100% if u look closely – except for your newspaperwalah perhaps. Again Mumbai is a diff. story. (in Chennai restaurants, indian child labourers have been replaced with baby faced Nepalese child labourers. How patriotic?!)

One thing i have to say is, i thank God a million times that i’ve been born in a good family surrounded by good people. We never knew nastiness in our lives like that. I have seen a bit of hardtime after i lost my parents – but it is nothing like what most poor orphans undergo in India. Our upbringing was so good that me and my sis emerged unscathed and stronger, even after losing our parents. But i know it is not easy for everyone. My past still haunts me even if i have a good life know. Even the scar of words never heals in our lives. If this is the case of children with good backgrounds like we did, just imagine the children of the lesser Gods. U know, one reason i might be writing this blog for, could be the early demise of my parents. Jamal in Slumdog should know.

That is why i have always a soft spot for orphaned children – especially if they are poor. Especially if they are poor. The thing that affects me most is that, these children so casually accept whatever their condition is. See how Jamal and Salim so easily adapt to their orphaned lives and take care of themselves in Slumdog. They are so matter-of-factly – and this always affects me most. The way they embrace their poverty, the way they survive by instincts alone…

The movie boldly shows the Mumbai underworld and the sleazy side of the city.

Imagine ultra modern Sushmita Sen and Shahrukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar also living in the same city.

In the same Mumbai city, Mukesh Ambani, the 6th richest (Reliance) man in the world is building the world’s biggest home with 27 floors and helipads. The same city is HQ to Tata group, Reliance group etc etc which are world-renowned names today.

But that is real India. Slumdogs and super-rich living side by side.

I used to get irritated to see Malays being so mad about hindi movies (tho’ it did flatter me too at the same time). I always used to think they are trying to look for an escapisim thro’ hindi movies.

I told anyone/everyone i met in Malaysia that hindi movies are no more realistic. Kuch Kuch hota hai happens as a one-i n-a-million case. Men don’t move about in 3 piece suits in India the way they are shown in bollywood movies.

But who is willing to listen?

Once an avid hindi film luver, i have moved away from hindi films becoz they have ceased to be realistic anymore.

Remember the movie ‘Baaton baaton mein’ with Amol Palekar as hero? That is 100% realistic. Where are such movies in bollywood today?

I have to thank Danny Boyle for doing this wonderful service of making Slumdog with Vikar Swaroop’s original novel.

‘Kaun banega crorepathi’ which was hosted by Amitabh Bachan first and then by Shahrukh Khan was my no.1 fave TV programme until its final episode. I was so happy to see it being hosted by another fave star of mine Anil Kapoor in Slumdog.

After the movie i told my son, ‘now u know how lucky u are: just being born in a good, secure family, just having your parents alive are alone greatest gifts of childhood, u know that?’

And he said a quiet ‘yes.’

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