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Oscar or not,Slumdog Millionaire is India, says Tharoor

Former UN Under Secretary General and well known writer Shashi Tharoor has given the thumbs up to Danny Boyle’s movie Slumdog Millionaire.

entertainment Updated: Feb 17, 2009 18:43 IST


Former UN Under Secretary General and well known writer Shashi Tharoor has given the thumbs up to Danny Boyle’s movie

Slumdog Millionaire

, saying that for the first time in Hollywood and world cinema history, Indian citizens are in contention for two Oscars – one for best song and for A.R. Rahman''s musical score.

He believes that it is only right that Indians should celebrate the achievement, as they haven't often had much to root for at the Oscars, Hollywood's annual celebration of cinematic success.

Only two Indian movies have been nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category in the last 50 years, and neither won. So, he says, that it isn’t surprising that Indians are taking a vicarious pleasure in the triumphs of "mainstream" pictures with an Indian connection -- the seven Oscars won by Richard Attenborough's Gandhi in 1983, for instance, or the success of The Sixth Sense, written and directed by a Philadelphian of Indian descent, Manoj Night Shyamalan.

This year, the country''s attention has been riveted by the surprise hit that Slumdog Millionaire has become, says Tharoor.

“Set in India, with Indian characters, Indian actors and Indian themes -- which has been nominated in 10 categories. Directed by England''s Danny Boyle, and based on the page-turning novel Q and A by Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup, the film has captured the hearts of audiences and critics around the world with its tale of a child from the slums, a tea-boy in a call-centre who wins a TV quiz show modelled on Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” says Tharoor.

He describes the movie as “exuberant, exciting, gaudy and gritty in a way that can only be called Dickensian”.

He says that Slumdog Millionaire brings contemporary Mumbai to life from the seamy side up, “and it does so with brio, compassion and all-round cinematic excellence.”

While accepting the criticism of the film, Tharoor says the film's searingly authentic depiction of India's poverty and slum life, “is not an exercise in the pornography of poverty.”

“Slum life is depicted with integrity and dignity, and with a joie de vivre that transcends its setting. It is easy to see why this movie would appeal to international filmgoers in a way that a bleaker film like City of Joy, which was set in the slums of Calcutta, could not,” he adds.

“We Indians have learned to take human beings as they are, which is to say, as grossly imperfect. And the film's hero, played by teenage British-Indian actor Dev Patel with a look that combines intensity and expressiveness, and yet seems utterly genuine, is as sincere a protagonist as you could hope to find,” he says, adding “if Slumdog Millionaire follows its four Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards, and seven Bafta awards (the British Oscars) with an Academy Award or three, most Indians are bound to celebrate.”

He concludes by saying that “Slumdog Millionaire is the work of an artist at the peak of his powers. India is Boyle's palette, and Mumbai -- that teeming "maximum city", with 19 million strivers on the make, jostling, scheming, struggling and killing for success -- is his brush.”

First Published: Feb 17, 2009 17:05 IST

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