Of slumdogs and slumgods

Is it the story of our times that movies based on poverty are 'in'?

The first half of slumdog millionaire had me vacillating between denial and acceptance. I went in to the cinema hall already aware that there were portions of the non-paying public in India that were claiming that the movie was casting a bad light on India. I was defending the people behind the movie for having the courage to show what the Indian movie makers hadn't. This was even before I saw a single frame of the movie.Then the slum scenes with the public toilets and the impoverished kids came along and made me squirm in my seat. This is exaggeration, I was thinking to myself. Exploitation was another word that came to my mind. The disgusted gasps from fellow audience members did not help my case. This is not India, I was now telling my audience of one. Much to my relief, the movie evolved into some sort of underworld thriller and the storyline moved out of the slums. This gave me time to think - hey, what DO I know about that part of India? Nothing. How do I even know it is exaggeration? When Karan Johar and co. are making movies on NRIs, Danny Boyle is fully justified in making movies on slum dwellers.  The early shock of slum life was now pushed to the background and I was able to pick up the background music. Screenplay and BGM are bound to score big at various award functions this year. All said and done, I don't think I can mention Amitabh Bachcan's name without an unconscious squirm.

Never having fully recovered from slumdog, I walked into 'Naan Kadavul' with the guys. The storyline I had in mind was that Arya, an aghori, comes back to his native town in Tamil Nadu - bashes some bad guys and ends up killing Pooja, his love interest, due to circumstances and goes back to Kasi and back to the life of an ascetic. Bala has slapped me hard for my pedestrian expectations. The movie title is a misnomer as the 'naan kadavul' part doesn't come into real focus until the very end of the movie. Having grown up with some sort of phobia against beggars - this movie is my worst nightmare. There is some bad memory in the recess of my mind, which thankfully did not present itself anymore than just remind me of its presence. I couldn't take my eyes of the 'Pitchai Paathiram' song wondering all the time why I was even watching it in the middle of the night when I could be resting my eyes at home. I couldn't bring myself to concentrate on Madhu Balakrishnan's voice or Ilaiyaraja's lyrics as the picturization took hold of my senses. Another part of India that I can never relate to but I am all the more sad that it exists. Ilaiyaraja could not be suppressed for long though - the climax scenes were enhanced by what seasoned writers will call a tour-de-force performance in the BGM department.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:12 PM

    Naan Kadavul - I couldn't get this movie out of my mind no matter how hard I try. It keeps coming back. I'm yet to watch SDM. I should have watched it before NK.

    Bala's representation of the darker world of the beggars was definitely hard hitting and very realistic, something that I never knew it existed.

    I'm used to being in-different to beggars especially the non-disabled ones. That's definitely changed now after watching NK.

    IR's BGM - Nothing that I can write which would enhance the greatness of it. Wish they release the OST.

    Thanks for the write-up