Monday, February 23, 2009

Get a taste of Indian Oscurry

I am not a big Oscar fan. The last time I woke up early to watch a telecast, I was maybe 13. Awards in general have lost their meaning for me over time (My last post mentions one reason; not counting how awards have generally eluded me since I was 13). Yet, as I watched the Oscar telecast this evening from my hotel room in Santa Clara, I had a lump-in-the-throat moment. For all our posturing that our self-esteem does not depend on validation from the firangs, boy! it felt great to hear Bachchan's immortal dialogue on the Oscar stage-- "Mere paas maa hai".

I mean, Rah! Rah! Rahman! That was Wow!

The real lump-moment, though, came when they announced the award for best documentary to "Smile Pinki (2008)". I have obviously not seen it, nor heard of it, given how marketing-dependant we are. Yet, I have never prayed harder for any movie to win. It is extremely heartening to see India colonize the Oscar stage, even small films with no frantic lobbying efforts. I believe Pinki was there at Kodak theatre this evening, although they did not show her. I hope this award gives her happiness. And an audience.

For India's first Oscar glory to be named after Pinki, too, is a fitting tribute to our artistic "history" (wink wink).

That said, I did a little jig and squealed in delight, as the camera panned from apna Lakkhan (Anil Kapoor) to the ravishing Frida Pinto and then to AR Rahman, as he framed the dedication in 3 languages-- hindi, english and tamil! It was a great feeling and not something to be savoured alone in a hotel room; wish I was hooting together with the chavanni crowd in front-stall at Gaiety-Galaxy.

Anyway, the Oscars tonight may do for Indian cinema what "Crouching Tiger" did for China. Of course, I fear this will also lead to many more Hollywoodized offerings from Bombay. For starters, the musical that followed Rahman's award was as Indian as the "chicken curry" served in desi restaurants along El Camino Real in Santa Clara. Why didn't they just call Farah Khan or Ganesh Acharya to hhelp with the choreography?!!

(On a related note, "Lagaan (2001)", in my opinion, had a better presentation, better performances and waaay better music-- everything that represented true Bollywood. Rahman and Aamir deserved to be up there in 2002!)

Here's hoping Bollywood continues to "be itself" and produce the wacky, unique movies only it can. Dances, songs, logic (or lack of) and Gulshan Grover intact. Please don't make Bollywood bland just because the sophisticated firang palette can't take it. They will get used to it, just like they got used to Chicken Curry ;-)


Monika said...

awww what a lovely post... pinki was a surprise for me too and i had a tear in my eye when i saw that it has won

and gosh i just saw the SM's kids on red carpet... they look so cute cant get cuter

Mama - Mia said...


nice to see the a optimistic post from ya! :D

and yes, i would hate us to get all bland and boring to pander to someone elses taste!

as for Lagaan, i think it was just too long for em! and like lotsa people are saying, lets just consider it as an award for all the awesome work done by Rahman! :D



Eve* aka JB said...

I did not know that 'Smile Pinki' was about THAT Pinki!!! I have so read her comics right along side Chaacha Chowdhary, Champak and Tinkle. Oh bloody hell. Yes, Lakhan and Rahman were a good moment, though people have criticised 'Lakhan' to be over-exuberant. Hah. That's our style, feel it, show it...none of those "world-peace-hand-to-mouth- pretend moments.
Hmm...does anyone know where one can watch Smile Pinki or, er, download? Am happy to purchase it too....hints/tips?

Vidooshak said...

Yikes, Eve, sometimes you make me feel funny. Like when you take my funny pieces literally. Nope, this is probably another poverty-porn piece about India--- nothing to do with THAT Pinki.

I was merely trying to emphasise how far we have come from the amateurish art of Diamond Comics to the slick productions of Oscar glory.

Er... umm.. not grinning?

Eve* aka JB said...

Arre bhaiieee.... There's slip-of-tongue in real life and then there's the online version where we (read me) leave comments and provide evidence of utter dunce-ness. What to do?

Perhaps I see/read your sense of humour when standing on my head. Completely missed the Pinki-point. :(

What do you say when you put both your feet in your mouth?
"I am on a roll."

(will ask context to be explained before commenting. feels stupid, goes away)

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

LOL at your exchange with JB!

I felt bad when they didn't show Pinki of 'Smile Pinki' fame wasn't shown.

As for Lagaan not winning...I cried for weeks!

Swati said...

Nice post..I aggree on lagaan point completely..I need to watch both the award winning movies asap.

Vidooshak said...

@MM/JB - You get an idea of how unpalatable feet are by the sheer volume of comments/readership on my blog. Feet tend to go together with my posts, either into mine or the reader's mouth.

I played RDB songs for a firang pal here, to prove how Rahman has produced MUCH better songs earlier. To my surprise, it did NOT sound as earth-shaking as "Jai Ho". That's the thing with ARR, his music always GROWS on you-- and you realize his new work is ACTUALLY better than his last.

So here's me eating my words...

Shanx said...

Uplifting post :)

Good to see India wedge its shadow in the spot but it's a peculiarly Indian trait to quickly own up to anything remotely Indian. Vijay Singh, Kal Penn, and so on.

Cut through the veneer of all the rage and delight and Slumdog is not *truly* Bollywood, although an ostentatious tribute to it. Boyle & Co have surely milked the joyride for what it is worth.

We take what we can get, but it would be great to see a truly Made in India product merit similar spotlight. Salaam Bombay is still the superior movie in pretty much every department save perhaps accessibility. Mira Nair is more Indian than Boyle.

Lagaan meanwhile had stiff competition in its year. No Man's Land was a taut production with a wider appeal than 3-hour village cricket with songs and thunder.

Oscars--as we all know--continue to represent the the populist and the predictable. Holocaust and nudity remain a tough combo to beat (Winslet).

The best movie of 2008 for this reader would be one of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Visitor, Gran Torino, or Frost/Nixon. [Ducking for cover]

Toonfactory said...

I still feel Swades was Rahman's best score till date and Jai Ho is no more than a high school project for the maestro ;)