A wild ride
Movie name: Slumdog Millionaire
Cast: Anil kapoor,Dev Patel
Directed By: Danny Boyle
Showing at: City Pride,E-square,Inox,Gold Big Cinemas,
Dharavi boy Jamal Malik,server of chai,keeper of secrets,is one of the wise. He’s learnt his wisdom on the streets,and he uses it to become a millio naire.
Director Danny Boyle takes the bare bones of Vikas Swarups novel,and turns the film into an electric,visceral,kinetic feast,and an all-get-out entertainer. Slumdog Millionaire is Salaam Bombay on speed.
Only its called Mumbai now.
Blood,sweat,tears. And that other bodily fluidshitthat no one likes to acknowledge,least of all mainstream meisters. Danny Boyle uses these elemental qualities to construct call-centre chaipauJamal (Dev Patel),and his bizarrely plausible (in the delightful phrase of one of the characters) world,constantly teetering on the edge of collapse,constantly being shored by the grit and gumption of those who live in it. And gives us an unlikely hero who is a metaphor for our times. Yes,Jamal can.
So can Latika (Freida Pinto),his childhood sweetheart,who is also a product of the same sewage and lineage that he and his brother Salim come from. Their journey to young adulthood,fraught with many dangers,is not new for those whove seen Bollywoods tryst with slumshomeless kids being blinded and maimed by beggar cartels is one of Hindi cinemas oldest saddest tales,along with fresh virgins being readied to be deflowered by the highest bidder. Boyle invests old tropes with a welcome matter-of-factness,and is willing to learn on the job: his inordinate glee at showing his young urchin wallowing in human excrement is overtaken by Jamal’s unchecked exuberancethe slumdog conquers both the smell and the moment.
When he first opens his mouth,the UK- based desi debutant Dev Patel seems all wrong,because of his clipped cadences. But almost immediately he settles into his groove,and,along with the marvellous young kids who play the leads younger selves,grows into being the film’s high point: Jamal is vulnerable yet strong,the fragile skin peeling off to reveal the steel underneath. Pinto is real,and keeps him able company. Irrfan Khan and Saurabh Shukla as the hectoring cops,and Mahesh Manjrekar as the brutal bhai,fit right in. Anil Kapoor,as the devious host of the game-show,turns in one of his most vivid,precise performances. And A R Rahmans score is a triumph.
The romance and rags-to-riches story of a Mumbai slum dweller comes to India via its meteoric sweep of the world,having ratcheted up applause and awards at break-neck speed. (Two days ago,it was nominated for 10 Oscar awards,including three for A R Rahman,one for Resul Pookutty for Best Sound Mixing,and the three biggiesBest Picture,Best Director,and Best Adapted Screenplay).
The fact that it has a director (Danny Boyle),screenplay writer (Simon Beaufoy) and producer (Christian Colson) owing allegiance to the West could have made this is a bloodless,distanced copy of a fun book,but one look at Slumdog Millionaire,and you know that its spirit and soul is flagrantly,proudly Indian: the Empire has been finally,overwhelmingly trounced.
It isnt about poverty pornography. It isnt about a White guy showing us touchy Brown-skins squatting by the rail-tracks. In the end,it’s just about a film,which sweeps you up and takes you for an exhilarating ride on the wild side.
A ghost of a chance
Movie Name: Raaz,The Mystery Continues
Directed by: Vikram Bhatt
Cast: Kangana Ranaut,Emran Hashmi
Showing at: City Pride,E-square,Mangala. Laxminarayan,Neelayam,Rahul,Westend
WAFER-thin model is handed keys to plush apartment by loving boyfriend. She is thrilled. So is he. To prove they are really,really happy,the duo swings into frenetic activity in the bedroom. Soon after,said model starts appearing on the dripping,bloody canvases of a bearded painter.
Forging a connection between the trio keeps director Mohit Suri busy for an interminable two-and-a-half hours. And this is what he stuffs the film witha saffron-clad sadhu who is more sinner than saint,a cop who has deep gashes on his neck,a fat firang who goes in for exorcism by a bunch of ashen aghoris (these are the guys who chant around a fire in the dark of the night). Dark rooms. Overflowing bathtubs. And a vengeful ghost,who sometimes appears in the body of the leading lady,at the bottom of a deep well at other times,and floating around in the ether,at still others.
Raaz,The Mystery Continues proves several things. First off,Kangana Ranaut needs a radical change of image. She’s been spending a lot of screen time teetering on ramps,and being hysterical. Here she adds oodles of red paint to her arsenal. It appears,variously,on her face,slashed wrists,and bare back.
Adhyayan Suman,the boyfriend,is better here than he was in his debut,but not by much. He gets to suck lip with Kangana,though,pipping his serial kisser co-star,who doesn’t get any. Emraan Hashmi is confined to stroking his beard,looking intense,and clutching a small copy of the Bhagvad Gita. It’s to chase away ghosts,he declares,giving it to Kangana,never realising for an instant that it’s his father (Jackie Shroff) who is the confused bhoot. It also proves that the director may be good at creating suspenseful drama,but he hasn’t a clue about this genre. The plot,such as it is,seems to consist of scenes cobbled from many ghostly tales (the bath-tub is from The Ring; so is the well).
He would have done well to have cogged from the first Raaz,which was one of the biggest hits of 2005: Dino Morea was satisfactorily puzzled,Bipasha Basu sizzled,and the ghost was truly scary. Here,Kangana has a brave bare-all scene,but she is a damp squib.As is the film.