Slumdog, Jodi and gajini…some thoughts

19 Jan

This post is about movies but not just about the movies. Let’s start first with Slumdog Millionaire (and if you have seen the movie, I recommend read the book too, both are similar yet very different) and the associated comments made by the legend Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Mr Bachchan’s contention, which he notes on his blog, is that the west focuses only on the underbelly of India and the poverty is not just an Indian phenomenon but global malaise, yet that is the only impression it seems the west propogates and imbibes, while filtering out every other reality about India. And he in turn feels affronted by this narrow approach of the west and he feels hurt that west chooses to celebrate this parochial view of theirs about India everytime.
I am sure what what he says with his vast global experience must be true at some level (and is true) but I think the issue is not limited just to what has been said by him and felt by others with membership to this niche achievers segment. The angst is deeper, the angst is personal and it no longer is limited to just him but to everyone in the affluent class, the class which has delivered, the class hunger for recognition and respect, the class that now claims its legitimate time under the sun. This acknowledgment and harping and glorifying of the poor by the west makes them feel ignored, shamed, disrespected and unacknowledged. These intelligent people despite their sheltered life and protected existence, would not be so blind and immune to the Indian reality. They would be well aware that whatever has been captured by Danny Boyle in the movie exists and things maybe worse than depicted. Can they challenge the fact that our police is corrupt and the poor have no rights or laws to protect them or that slums exist or that people defecate in public or that the basic lack of amenities or anything else shown in the movie as a reality (ignore the fable part, that is fiction and beyond contention and I am sure they are very comfortable with that part). Karan Johar or his ilk can create a facade of the rich, helicopter riding, designer wearing Indian but still the reality exists. I am also very sure that Mr. Bachchan is not so narrow minded to object to the fact that a westener has made that movie; when we did not stake any claim to the movie made on the most famous Indian (Gandhi not AB) by a westener than why would or should we cry wolf for this movie. My hypothesis is that Mr. Bachchan feels when the west laps this reality, it becomes the only reality about Indian and when this becomes a singular image about India he in turn becomes part of this image, he gets painted along with the slumdog and they now stand shoulder to shoulder, which in his mind is not true hence the outrage: I AM NOT A SLUMDOG. So when he has raised the issue, it was not due to any moral outrage, it was personal,very personal.
The second movie is Aditya Chopra’s “Rab ne bana de jodi”, a universally ridiculed movie and rightly so people believe. Let me start this by saying, I am not trying to be different and I do not think it is a great movie but nevertheless it is a movie that poses lots of interesting questions and answers them equally interestingly. I am not sure these meanings were interjected consciously by the creator or are there accidentally but these are there. I will start with the most debated and derided concept in the movie. When Raj and Sahni are the same people, how does it matter who gets he girl, they/he is afterall the same . Why indeed? But then it does matter and it matters because it challenges the very existence of Sahni. It makes his previous 30years and the values in which he has believed in and lived by redundant. It makes an identity called Sahni meaningless. His every previous action, his every thought, his every belief empty and pointless. It was as if face he saw in the mirror ebery morning will now be scorned at and mocked not just by the world, but by Raj. So it does matter to him. So what started as a joke became for him a quest and answer to his own very existence.
The second aspect he stands for is what every second Indian believes is the path to glory and a true way of life. Good people always win in the end; a reality propogated by Hindi movies for the last 60 years and believed by the people who struggle everyday for mere existence, that this is the path which will eventually give rewards and satisfaction. It has become a defacto path of the God. And this aspect has been captured in the movie that the movies have defined and constructed Sahni’s beliefs and value system. Those movies have been the foundation of his reality and in turn our reality of every ordinary Indian. So Sahni and Raj are not mere characters they are concepts, concepts of the old India and the new India. And the movie says in the end, yes old India has to embrace the new India but new India also cannot eschew old India.
Last aspect is my comment on the loud behaviour of Raj. You know SRK could have easily played Raj of DDLJ, charismatic, charming (he has done that part so well for so long) but then director chose to interpret the role in this manner and SRK showed the courage to play this obnoxious lout. But do not look and seek SRK, remember the character, it is Sahni who is role playing, and his concept of cool comes from movies (yes the SRK movies DDLJ case in point), but it is an uncharacterstic behaviour for Sahni, something that does not come naturally to him. This behaviour is so alien to him that he should fail, and he did fail. Sahni as Raj is an absolute failure, and that is exactly what happened in the movie. So what’s the crib. It is a victory of the director and not his failure, what is winsome about Raj are his values and those values are of Sahni. So only time Raj is lovable is when he is Sahni (in his thoughts).
Gajini – First comment. Do not watch this movie. I am not saying because it is a bad movie. My issue is different. The previous makers of the movie, in Tamil, malyalam and now in Hindia hve always harped on the fact that this movie is not a remake of Memento. Afterall what are the similarities, dead wife/GF, lost memory, 15 minute attention/memory span, revenge, polaroids, tatoos, that’s it. Everything else is different, different story,different treatment, everything. Let’s not even argue the fact that the value is of the idea everything else is just a veneer, you can dress it up in any form, the look changes and the idea does not. a rose is a rose is a rose. Again I do not have any issue with the South Indian original versions of the movie (i profess ignorance there), my issue is only with the Hindi version. And the issue is due to Aamir Khan, the intelligent actor. The actor who stands up for the causes, originality. He is so honest that he bought the remake rights from the makers of the Tamil version before making the Hindi version. SUCH HYPOCRISY, such dishonesty. Can a man stoop any lower? And he has the audacity of have that mocking smile on his face when he says on national channel, see the movie then tell me if it has any resemblance to Memento and continues to say poker faced, it has none. You MOTHERFUCKER IT IS A RIP-OFF. And now wipe that fucking smile from your face.

One Response to “Slumdog, Jodi and gajini…some thoughts”

  1. sadak chhap February 10, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    I wish the makers of Rab ne banai Jodi had your Insight.

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