We were waiting for the reaction from AR Rahman to the outrage expressed by persons from Amitabh to Arindham and others like me …
that the movie Slumdog Millionaire was a blot on Indian pride.
Not because it showcased the worst ills of our country.. We have had movies on much worse side of India in 'Pithaamagan' and more recently in 'Naan KadavuL' in Tamil that will shake our sensibilities besides shaking us from our slumber.
But those movies were not scripted on a theme nor did they promote a theme
that 'we are better than you'.
This message that 'we are better than you' was delivered openly in the scene
where Jamal showed the American tourists
what the Real India was –
inviting a response from them
who the Real American is!
Slumdog succeeded in the West, in the US
because it went to them at the right moment in history
when the entire American public was at a shock
at the fall of their Economic empire.
When the mass American psychology was so shocked
at their crumbling lives and life-styles,
not really knowing where they are heading for in the wake of 'melt-down',
Slumdog with its craftily placed dialogues gave
a tremendous 'feel-good'
that there is another side of the globe with all ills
which they can hardly imagine even in dreams and
they must be fortunate for what they are now.
The Real American is humanitarian to the core,
helps the fellow next to him,
can not stand someone suffer in front of eyes …
and blah blah…
all those feel-good sensibilities are re-ensured to them
on seeing this movie!
There is a verse in Tamil,
"Thammin meliyaarai nOkki, thamadudaimai
'amma; peridu endru agam magizhga" which means
"be happy with what you have by comparing yourself
with those who possess less than you".
This is the basis for "feel-good".
Every American who praised the movie,
praised it because it gave him a feel-good watching this movie.
The American pride is more than satisfied by the open dialogue that said
what it means to be an American.
We see this expressed in most of the blogs written by Americans.
I came across blog-post by an American mother
how she rushed home after seeing this movie
to hug her child that they are indeed lucky to have the safety of the home!
I came across many posts by Americans
who unanimously said that
it definitely gave a feel-good,
a sense of 'things will be ok for me' after seeing this film.
Is Slumdog Millionaire a film offering solutions to American economic problems?
No not at all.
All that this movie gives is just a 'feel-good'
that they are far better off than the kids in the movie.
This is reinforced by the psychological and mental superiority
given by the "Real American" identity
promoted powerfully in contrast to a negative portrayal of life
in another part of the world, for the entire stretch of the movie.
This is the message that can not escape the eyes of any thinking Indian.
Unfortunately we have the contrary type in the majority in India –
a majority who can be simply hyped and hijacked emotionally by clever talks.
And AR Rahamn, a well meaning person is a thinking Indian!
Then why did he work for this movie?
He must have been one of the very few who would have actually known
the message of the movie when he sat to compose music to it.
No one else including Anil Kapoor would have understood the message
and what the tactful dialogues had conveyed until he saw it
after it was completely made.
The un-asked question in the minds of most of us was
why didn't Rahman object to it.
There was a denigration of Amitabh image also.
Didn't he think that they were too much on the Indian pride?
I think he must have felt so…
this is confirmed in his acceptance speech at the Oscars.
But he would not have thought that this film
would even make it to the Oscars, if at all screened in India!
This is affirmed by the very little time he devoted for this movie
compared to the pains and long time he used to take for any movie.
And the winning number was already a discarded one.. just inserted by him.
This is another indication of how he was not serious about the success of the movie,
though I am sure he was not so in his work on music.
But the movie clicked with the American audience,
mainly with the Hollywoodiers
who were looking for a phoenix rise from the falling sate of affairs.
But at the cost of Indian pride!
Rahman opened his mind on why he did this movie,and he did say why he was in this film.
He had to answer his conscience if he were to accept the Oscars.
He said, "The film is about optimism and the power of hope...
All my life I had a choice of hate and love.
I chose love and I'm here."
The film had a note of optimism in spite of the denigration of the Indian psyche.
He clinged to the optimism part of the story.
That was the justification to do work for that film.
The choice of Jai ho – inserting this discarded one - will say it all.
That is why he was there receiving the award!
Many readers will think that I am spinning some justification.
but not without support from him.
In his interview to the TV later,
he recalled how they expected this award
and they didn't get.
But now they have got it.
It's ok. Lets us accept it, he said.
The choking voice that said this to the interviewer make me feel sorry for him.
God could have crafted some other movie – there are many –
to give him recognition globally.
But he got the recognition for this movie…
Rahman himself is a stickler of values
when it comes to the message of the songs he composed music for.
Speaking on the lyrics of Jai Ho, he said,
"Words have the power.
Words formed action and intention of life.
I often argue with lyricists not to use words that have negative impact."
He took care of the verses of the songs for which he composed music.
But such a Rahman had no control on the words delivered in the movie
for which he composed the music.
Such a Rahman must have truly cried when the film made it big -
and when the sections of the society whose reaction had mattered to him most,
didn't approve the film.
Rahman kept a silence all along,
may be he was looking for a justification for him to accept the award.
And he did have a justification which he bluntly delivered on the stage
where he received the award.
The Indian public expected some rapturous words from him.
But his speech was unclear to most – even Pookutty seemed to convey a mood.
But this man seemed to speak something not suitable for the occasion.
But he really did convey.
The internal heat that he must have been undergoing
from the time this movie was tipped for the Oscars,
must be wiped off.
He gave his justification for why he did the movie.
He looked at the positive message of it
and that was why he was there at the Oscars.
Had he seen the negative message alone,
he would have refused to work for the movie.
That means he would not have been there at the Oscars.
Rahman, we understand you.
We have only seen you as a gentle good man for whom work is God.
You can not have faltered
and you can not be faulted for your love of your mother land and its Pride.
I understand you Mr Rahman!
Jai ho to you,
for your determination to see only positive words in your works.
Another Jai Ho to you for having taken Indian Music to the international audience!
God be with you!
Related posts from this blog :-
Some reactions for the Oscars:-