I watched the famous Danny Boyle movie last Sunday. It was well directed, an oscar deserving movie and a great performance by the cast, refreshingly so because of the lack of main-stream Bollywood stars. It’s amazing that after decades of churning out movies upon countless movies, Bollywood is yet to make a movie comparable to Slumdog Millionaire. This goes to show that you do not need breath-taking foreign locales, scantily clad exotic dancers or a star-studded cast to make it to the oscars.
The movie released the same day as “Chandni Chowk to China”, which was a super budgeted movie starring the currently ruling King of Bollywood, Akshay Kumar. The project had roped in Warner Bros. and Orion Pictures production houses with a massively anticipated North American release. What happened next was the obvious, it failed miserably to impress anyone, not even Indian audiences.. and they wonder why they don’t win oscars! It was probably too ambitious a venture anyway, Indian cinema still needs to learn the ropes when it comes to the international entertainment market. Musicals are a thing of the past, unless performed by good-looking high school-going teens with endless energy coupled with a great performance and acrobatic dance sequences.
The level of maturity of Bollywood action directors can be measured by the fast paced chase sequence in the first scene of Bourne Supremacy. The scene was shot in the streets and gullies of Goa, with a Hyundai Sonata and Maruti Gypsy. I could never imagine the 4 wheeled gypsy to be so maneuverable, but with a world class director, anything was possible. There were no unnecessary explosions, but it was still one of the best chase scenes shot in india (Another one would be the Auto Rickshaw chase in James Bond’s Octopussy). No Bollywood Blockbuster movie would come close enough to making that impact on the audience.
And we, as Indians, would shamelessly claim the success of Slumdog Millionaire as our own, where nothing from the director to the actors were remotely Indian. Let’s see, director : Danny Boyle, Screenplay Writer : Simon Beaufoy, Adapted from the book Q&A by Vikas Swarup, who by the way, has been nominated and won awards possibly everywhere else except India (But I’m sure he’ll win a few Indian awards soon enough, judging from the International popularity of the movie). The actors were never heard of before, except for Anil Kapoor whose influence in Bollywood was kinda waning, what with him getting old and stuff. The kids (Jr. Hero and Heroine) were superbly impressive, and kudos to the Director for not making it JASMBF (Just Another Stupid Mushy Bollywood Flick). The locations were life-like and not overly extravagant, with the Millionaire Don’s house looking pretty humble, a relief from the usual golden staircases and diamond-studded chandeliers which indicate affluence in Bollywood movies.
Anyways, Indian Cinema is in its adolesence with the “off-beat” movies released which makes more sense with a realistic view of life and the problems we face. Movies like “A Wednesday” which didn’t involve murderous lyrical songs with “Item numbers”, but rather focussing on the story line making it a movie worth spending money at the hall for, and left you thinking about the movie when its over, than about the stupid dialogues and pick-up lines which only roadside romeos would utter in utmost confidence. Afterall, it happens only in India.