Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Curious Case of S...

"I liked most the role of Amitabh B..."

"Kya bhaiyya kitna accha to woh autograph diya tha..." (WTF bro, I liked the way he signed the

Mocked one of them with a rebellious laugh, and we were not sure whether to probe him further
for a more serious answer. Poor doting hearts of ours.

Drawing their tetchy attention for a post-movie
sitting wasn't easy at the first place. But we were curious. Maybe a little over-thought. As if whatever their reaction be, it must be an unspoken verdict, an imprimatur to our own understanding of the movie-drama-elevating-the-reality. After all they breathe at places of those kinds. After all it's raining Oscars now.

But there were others in the group, who preferred to see something else in the movie. That day...

It has ended. Coming out into the light from the faintly inspired cinema hall that was scrolling the credits by now, I could see the contended it-was-just-a-movie smiles on most of the faces. Smiles with evident forgettable casualness. No feel-goodness. And I thought "Oh, even better, maybe".

An year and more of experience with them was enough Not to surprise me on this. Who says theirs is a lesser world. Them apart, at their age we ourselves would've nicely sunk into a lot of awesomeness that we would've found in the movie - from the animated game-show glitz to the teenage looting adventures in the trains. "It was good, but fir se nahi dekhungi..." (not watch-able again) -- One muted girl among them had muted. But that wasn't all.

The yawning group sat united finally. Sunken, edgy. Fiddling with everything they could sight. Thrown to them were several lines of views -- questionnaire -- to quickly unfurl all that the theatre has dozed them with, before they could peacefully forget it. Dump it, just as they fling away most of the draggy preaching we fill them with.

And we quizzed:

All your three Scenes special...
Any Jamal around you quite real?
The character you would play,
Recall & Imagine & Recall & Say.

Etc etc.

"Salim!"..."Why?"..."Didi he was a good friend, uska dosti dikha nahi, dhoka diya bahut jagah but he was a good friend didi (unappreciated friendship, easy betrayal)"...

"I have a friend bhaiya, hero hai ho"..."Really?"..."Yes bhaiya, he din't have paisa to study. Himself earned some money. Then exam diya and topped...Accha dost bhi hai."

"So only class toppers can be good heroes? See Jamal."..."No bhaiya! Salim bhi hai na."..."But he did so many wrong things too."..."So what didi, brave tha ho, kitna daring tha usmein (Salim dared to live full)..."

And much more. Prior to all this movie-going, most of my team-mates had loved to claim: "It was something they can relate to..." But I was a little sceptical. Wrongly enough. "Just Movie? We need more around." I thought "They need an identity out of it..." Rightly enough.


There were few who had objected on screening the movie to our group of slum kids, for the outright graphic and gory content exhibited in it...content we safely consider we shouldn't have seen ourselves while being a kid. But I vouched:

That let's face it. That we are not tipping the kindergarten kids here, instead these young guns are the ones who face realities much murkier than the well-to-do 15-year-olds are consigned to be; and who need to grow more mature than their age allows them to be, unfailingly.

That further to it, consider the likes of Ghajini on one hand and Raaz on the other (which is also an A-rated movie and few kids here have already seen it, to our surprise) - these movies come with loads of good-and-evil confection - from the sumptuous display of rage by a cult perfectionist, to the as-senseless-as-sensual mystery marked with adroit performances (Bipasha).

That not that we should do the least imperative of things by mindlessly promoting any such movies to them; but undoubtedly too, this is their (kids) formative age to learn to sieve out the good virtues from the obvious bad; to see through most of the junk temptations of teenage years; and to rise through their inner poverty of self first than looking around on their street corners. While standing at the periphery, if we can enable these kids to appreciate where any such movie falls out in relation to their own life, then we have substantially met our goal isn't it? (Movie-watching is of course something all of them follow rather keenly).

That as far as Slumdog M...itself is concerned, well the movie isn't just about the fancy escapism cinema. SM is an idea, a concept that conflicts tradition, a lateral view so outreaching that - neither slum dwellers nor the elites, equally, would ever conceive of if left to themselves. SM risks of playing with the clichéd romanticism associated with poor and the poverty, but it does that with some tenderness and lyricism that can only bring novelty in the thoughts of the positive minds of tomorrow.

For the
kids, SM holds a window to the different ways of imagining their own world, to the mere idea that their struggle could bring in a glimmer to the life -- life beyond the-dispirited-self-indulgence many westerners are used to conceive of. Through SM they could watch the downfall of a gainful illusion that outsiders had about them, about India and about its ghettos -- as someone said -- that of gurus or Gandhi; that of cows or cobras; that of wedding or outsourcing... All in a Cinderella like fairy-tale and through the shtick of a film-maker.

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