Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chaiwala Crorepati ... A Brief Review (Might not be so brief)

Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle, based on Q and A by Vikas Swaroop has been receiving rave reviews and coveted awards ever since its premiere. Directed by Danny Boyle of Trainspotting fame, Slumdog Milliomaire is a rags-to-riches story, dwelling for the greater part on the rags period of the protagonist's life. I would like to term it a “hollywoodish masala” flick! First of all, I would like to tell everyone who thinks the term “masala” is derogatory, it surely is not! I can easily name a few renowned Hollywood films right now which are typical masala films. A masala film is technically a film with all kinds of cinematical aspects like drama, romance, comedy, suspense etc… SM has all of these and more. More? Yes lots of garbage and shit! Literally…

The film basically is the story of how a “chaiwala” becomes a “crorepati”. The chaiwala named Jamal and his brother Salim who grow up in the world’s largest slum, dharavi, go through various “real life” situations. Between these situations they also meet “Latika”. The situations are very much real, the Mumbai riots, a beggar racket, child tour guides (but to the Taj Mahal??), Pila Street, an underworld gang surviving on the ever increasing ever costlier growth of urban jungle, and of course “Who wants to be a millionaire”! Jamal wants to be a millionaire but not because he wants the money but because Latika will see her! Phew! So there you go I told u the story. Of course there is more. There is Anil Kapoor who plays the host in the highly popular gameshow “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. He is shown to be a really mean guy who doesn’t want his contestant to become a millionaire, the exact reason for which is unknown. I might sound too critical while analyzing the film, but its all true.

Leaving aside gaping holes of flaws in the film, it’s a complete entertainer, I assure you. You’ll sit back and enjoy the various dimensions of Mumbai as city, as a spirit in itself! There are some moments in the film which will get embossed on your brain if you get into the magnanimity of them. Take for instance the scene where Jamal gets locked into a “bathroom” by his elder brother. And then comes Amitabh Bachchan in a helicopter just nearby. All he could do is take a look into a pic of Amitabh, cover his nose and jump into a pile of shit! He screams “Amitabh Bachchan” and then runs into the crowd jostling to have a glimpse of their favourite star, and towards Amitabh. The star doesn’t seem to be surprised by a shit covered boy who wants his autograph and coolly gives it! Jamal couldn’t ask for more… The scene might seem too filthy for some but to be honest if you look at the cinematic aspect, its amazing! Its amazing how Bollywood influences so many millions of us, Indians. An ardent fan wouldn’t think twice to jump into a pile of shit to take an autograph of the biggest star he can imagine! Outstanding! There is another scene in the film where the grown up brothers are talking about their lives in an under construction building. Salim played by Madhur Mittal says “India is at the center of the world now bhai, and I am at the center, of the center!” So much power in that dialogue. Then there’s yet another scene in the climax of the film where on one hand Jamal answers the last question and wins the show, while Salim makes sure Latika escapes from the grasp of Javed bhai, the gangster and locks himself in the bathroom. There he is shown in a bathtub full of 1000 rupee notes. Javed bhai storms in and Salim shoots him and then some of Javed’s goons shoot at Salim. Excellent scenes these and lots more…

Dev Patel (as Jamal), Frieda Pinto (as Latika), Madhur Mittal (as Salim), Irfan Khan (as the police inspector) and Anil Kapoor (as the game show host) are all brilliant but for me, the stars of the film are the two young brothers played by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail. Amazing performance from the lead actors, most of whom are debutants. The music by A R Rahman is awesome as usual. Not his best work but it surely is winning awards for him and recognition. O Saya, Paper Planes and Jai Ho are the best songs in the album.

I would suggest watching this film, not because it has been nominated for the Academy Awards (Oscars) but because it is a cinematically brilliant film. The story might not be so attractive but the treatment surely is. Think about shooting amongst few thousand Dharavi dwellers and you’ll know what I mean! Enjoyable film and it surely win a few Academy Awards. Jai Ho! :)

~Lots of Love~