Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, which won eight Oscars, including those for Best Picture and Best Director, has catapulted three Indians, A. R. Rahman, Resul Pookutty and Gulzar, into the ranks of Oscar-winning movie celebrities.
Danny Boyle, Director of Slumdog Millionaire, with Rubina, a Mumbai slum child who was cast in the film, after he received the award for Best Director
Producer Christian Colson with the cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire after he received the award for the Best Picture
Danny Boyle and the Slumdog Millinaire team, including children from Mumbai slum, in a jubilant mood at the Oscar ceremony
A. R. Rahman (left) won two awards, one for Original Score and the other for Original Song, which he shared with Gulzar.
Resul Pokutty (picture below) shared the award for Sound Mixing with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke.
As Slumdog Millionaire took the world by storm, protests arose in India. There were noises of the sour grapes variety from Bollywood and criticism based on reasons other than cinematic from elsewhere. Some argued that the movie would give India a bad image.
Slumdog is, of course, not an Indian movie, but it is a movie about India. It is based on a work of fiction by an Indian author, and it was shot in Indian with Indians figuring prominently in the cast and in the crew.
The criticism that Slumdog shows India in a bad light is misplaced. It certainly depicts poverty, police torture, prostitution etc. But, then, they are not things which Danny Boyle conjured up. They are part of the Indian reality. Politicians and bureaucrats with censorial minds may want such unpleasant facts to be kept out, but the movie-maker must have the freedom to show them if his work demands it.
Slumdog is a well-made movie, and its overall impact is bound to be beneficial. For the message it conveys is a positive one of the triumph of the human spirit. As A. R. Rahman said, while accepting his award, the film transmits optimism and hope.
This message, which comes through strongly in the film, spread to the Oscar ceremony, too, when the film’s producer, Christian Colson, led the children from Mumbai slum along with the rest of the cast and crew.
Another Oscar winner was a documentary, Smile Pinki, which is in Hindi, and highlights the work of Dr Subodh Kumar Singh whose simple surgery turns poor children born with a cleft lip into smiling faces. It was produced and directed by Megan Mylan(picture on right), a San Francisco-based documentary maker.