Tuesday, February 24, 2009

India at the Oscars

A lot has been written about the Oscars. Like an India-Pakistan cricket match, the whole of India must have had their TV sets on to watch the ceremony live.

So much of India at the Kodak theater.

I was not particularly enamoured by Slumdog Millionaire , though I did appreciate it for the fine editing and piecing of different sequences, but otherwise I thought it was the same old story and more of a fantasy than the Hindi movies we are used to. .

I remember before the touted success of the movie, I had picked up the book at the library ( since the title Q&A appealed to me - and besides I am a quiz -show- fan) but having glanced at the brief description of the story on the jacket, thought it was not my kind of book. Ever since the movie was released, the book has disappeared off the rack and in circulation. I do want to find out how closely the script has adhered to the original.

The gory details that were part of the movie reminded me of a movie my parents had discussed when I was young. - younger than 10 I should think. The movie was 'Mondo Cane' It horrified my mother in particular, and some of it was shared with us. The movie showed the maiming of people to serve as beggars. And it had I believe, rather vivid pictures of blinding subjects, chaining the limbs in order to stunt and handicap the person.

I recollected this discussion after seeing Slumdog and found a few references on google.

Mondo Cane (A Dog's World; also a mild Italian curse) is a 1962 documentary film by Italian film makers that was made about cultural practices in the East and was mainly intended to shock or surprise the audiences in the West. The movie was a huge success. It seemed to have been dubbed a shockumentary in those times. It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival. The movie's theme song, "More," was in 1964, nominated for Best Song. The film's video packaging states it won an Oscar, although it was only nominated. The film started a fad known as "Mondo film".

There seem to be few similarities between Slumdog and Mondo Cane.

For whatever shortcomings the movie had for me, I guess they were forgotten and it was a great moment when two Indians received Oscars. A R Rahman has produced better music, and so it was not really a great song that got an Oscar, but he truly deserved it for the music he is known for. In my opinion, Illaya Raja and A R Rahman are two music composers who deserve international acclaim.

The Oscars, The Booker. The Indian media will talk about it for some time and understandably too. Until now, we took pride when an NRI scientist won a Nobel, but this is a different story altogether.

If it was not for political interferences we could have duplicated this feat in the sports arena too. Maybe we will soon, despite that ....

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