Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Some Dog Is a Millionairre

By Gaurav Parab

This article by Gaurav Parab is the Point of View Editorial in the Sakaal Times, 26th Feb 2009

While most applaud, a few ask - What is the big deal about winning an Oscar? And then some state the obvious.

Let us start by stating the obvious. Slumdog Millionairre is an average movie. Let alone it being the best movie of this year. Jay Ho and O Saya are not A R Rahman's best songs. They probably will not make it to the genius' own 100 greatest songs list. With this knowledge behind us, let us also acknowledge some remarkable facts. Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars and the Madras Mozart won 2 in about 10 minutes.Anyone who has had anything to do with film-making will give an arm to win one in his lifetime. In spite of what he or she states to the media or scribbles on his blog.

Now, let's return to the jazz about winning the Oscars.

Is it the World Cup of filmmaking? No.

Does it reward the best achievements in filmmaking? Not always.

How else can you explain Nolan's Dark Knight – which seamlessly blended old fashioned storytelling and Summer Blockbuster with the performances of a lifetime and beyond, not even making it to the list of nominees? Slumdog, on the other hand, made a dozen times every year in India, swept every major award worldwide.

Now, is winning the Oscar's still special, important and very difficult? Yes. It is. Ask Kate Winslet, one of the finest actors of this generation, who finally cracked the code after years of disappointment. And this is where we need to take a moment. Shed our holier than thou, oldest civilization, billion people, maximum movies made in a year, I hate Anil Kapoor's chest hair, we don't care for western appreciation; cloak.

We need to simply say, Congratulations AR Rahman, Resul Pookutty, and every member of the Slumdog team. You made us proud.

And this is in spite of that inexplicable part of us that wants India to do well at everything, yet doubts Indian achievement when it is done. Yes, that part which says – was the Miss World and Universe fixed by the cosmetic industry in the nineties to push sales in the world's biggest market? Are Australian Cricketers over the hill? How else could a team of people like us beat them? Is the Nano really an engineering achievement, or an invitation to parking problems we never previously worried about?

Kill that part, and join the celebration when one is due. We will most definitely not have a reason always. And yes, it is important to congratulate Danny Boyle too. Some may have called you a predator, and yes you may have done what a hundred others have done before in Bollywood, but none can deny the fact that you did what you set out to. You did your job well. Period. You showed Mumbai as Mumbai, and not the true or false,westernized or Indian, modern or slum tourism version. In an ideal word, we wish for a heartwarming Oscar winning thriller about India's Space mission prowess, yet we will take and respect your movie for what it is. Somebody had to win the Oscars, and we rather have an honest friend of India like you do it. Like A R Rahman so rightly said, if anyone has a problem with Slumdog and its success – why not make one yourself.

Speaking of A R Rahman, finding the right words is as tough as defining a genre for the music he creates. Magic, perhaps, best describes it. Oscar winning or otherwise. How many Oscar winners have the humility and clarity of thought to say, "I will say what I have always said at the end of every acceptance speech. God is great". The Oscar selection process may be as flawed as any other,but that is a fundamental factor that every art or performance award will always have to deal with it. One man's art can easily be another's fart.What the Oscars manage to do, and this is what makes it one of the most recognizable events in the world is that it put up a spectacular show – which entertainment and entertainers truly deserve. It awards performances with a place in history and bragging rights for a lifetime – unlike the multiple sponsorship driven award ceremonies in Bollywood which come and go with zero longevity and recall. And with documentaries like Smile Pinki – it helps us share stories of human triumph on a global stage.

While the sight of Anil Kapoor jumping up and down after every award ceremony does make one want to destroy something beautiful, it is important to understand that the occasion indeed is special. It marks a watershed moment, when East meets West like it has never done before. Through television, on the big screen and through the millions of articles being written about the billion stories India and Indians like Vikas Swarup have to offer. Brilliant,mediocre or otherwise.The euphoria is not too different from the early days of Mahesh Bhupathy and Leander Paes beating the best sides in the world. We tracked their progress, celebrating each victory in a preliminary round like the best thing to have happened in Tennis – until the time when they started winning so much, that we took Grand Slams as a matter of fact. This is exactly what Slumdog's success will do. We might be accused of going overboard this year, but the next time some dog wins a million – we will raise a silent toast and appreciate success without any shadow of doubt in our minds. Like Pookuty said, this is not just a sound award, this is history being handed over to me. Till history is made again, let us not resist saying Jai Ho, no matter how clich├ęd it might sound to the natural Indian critic in us.


man in the iron mask said...

As Kenneth Turan of LA Times said -
No one is required to love the Oscars just for being the Oscars, but speaking for those of us who do, I think its only fair to ask everyone else nicely but firmly to butt out. This is cosa nostra -- our thing -- and if it's not yours we can live very well without your attention and your scorn.

And as A.O. Scott of NYTimes said -
The Oscars aren't really about the best films of the year as much as the Academy's own image of it.

Simple as it may sound, The Oscars are only the most prestigious of all the year-end parties. Watch it, and forget about it. But enjoy the party while it lasts.

Anonymous said...

Made for good reading! Especially the art and fart thing! However elementary it may be, it induced a genuine chuckle!

Overall a 'quote worthy' article :)


Anonymous said...



unicorn said...

jai ho :D

vineet said...

awesome dude read many articles on slumdog before and after oscar this one ws gr8 ...

beatnik said...

2 things:

1) Typo in the title :P
2) Loved the post absolutely. It's like you stole my thoughts and put them in words. And did a far better job than I would've.

Please write more often :)

Gautam Anand said...

Read zillion articles .. concerning this debate.. but. yours
was easily one of the best.. And more did I like your article becasue you completely resonate my views..

Gaurav Parab said...

Thanks Satish, yes it is a party.

Meera and Vineet, thanks for writing in.

J, thanks for the support :)

Anil - by the way, Pussycat Dolls has come up with a Jai Ho just when we thought that the worst was behind us.

Beatnik, you take care of my assignments and exams. Will write more often! and yes, I am the typo king of Hinjewadi :)

Gaurav Parab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shreya said...

Good one. Altho there is nothing wrong about Anil Kapoor jumping up and down. Why attack the man, just because he has too much chest hair??

Anonymous said...

Nice one.

On a totally unrelated note:

Q. How do you greet a Parab?
A. Parab-ola!


Gaurav Parab said...

@ Shreya.

Yes. Anil Kapoor is one of the last remaining cave men descendants.

Us city types need to raise a toast to his primate ROOP KI RANI CHORO KA RAJA masculanity every now and then:)

@ SA, Parab Ola sounds spanish. I say sounds, because till now - I have managed a grand total of 8 out of 200 in my spanish class.
Hasta La Vista nino.