A man who lost his father early in life and had to drop out of school to take care of his family. A genius who grabbed an opportunity when it presented itself, and lifted himself to divine heights from there. A pioneer who dared to innovate and who had already been hailed as a maestro by millions. He goes on to win for what many claim is not his best work, but none grudge his victory. In fact, much like Gandhi and the Nobel Peace prize, for me the Oscar would have been poorer, and not Rahman, if it hadn’t been given to him. A man who exemplifies one of life’s oldest cliches: “Hard work pays.” And shows that man makes his own destiny.
A man who made his debut in the late 70s and is still going strong, romancing heroines his daughter’s age. A man, whom I always stereotyped as the ‘re-make hero’ (think Woh Saat Din, Viraasat, Judaai, Biwi No.1, Nayak just to name a few top of the mind recalls...). A man who gave us an iconic Mr. India but has mostly been overshadowed by more successful peers all through his career. A stable bankable hero maybe, seldom a superstar. I am more interested to know whether Aamir will decide to boycott Oscars now that Anil Kapoor has ‘Beta’ed him here too?
A man who is recognized by many to be a fine actor, but one who cannot draw in the masses come Friday night. Saddled with what the producers call ‘unconventional looks’, they would not bet a hundred crore film on him, like they do with much less talented but better looking ‘six-pack superstars’. Irffan Khan went international when ‘working with Hollywood’ wasn’t the buzzword yet. As they say, “Life is not a sprint, it is a marathon; and in the end, the race is only with yourself.”
A struggling model who hosted a TV show that I hadn’t even heard of. And now, is rumoured to be signing a film with Woody Allen. And as fame catches up with her, stories of a hidden marriage crop up. And already, gossip mongers have accused her of using and dumping her man. I will not sit here and pass moral judgment, but I am interested to see how she handles the fame and the accompanying intrusions of privacy. “Every rose comes with its thorn”, they say.
A talented child actor who did a very decent job in a small role in an earlier film, only to be overshadowed by a more brilliant portrayal of a dyslexic by another kid. I am curious as to how he felt when Darsheel walked away with all the accolades while he was hardly noticed. Did Tanay Chheda say to himself, “my time will come, let me do my work as best as I can.” Or did he experience pangs of envy, very natural at such an age. While he did have his moment of fame in Slumdog, he is again overshadowed by a younger, more bubbly version of his character, and also by the elder more marketable face of the same character. Does destiny condemn some people to be always in the shadow of more presentable peers?
A kid from the slum. Picked out of obscurity and placed on a global platform. With a TB-stricken father who’s accused of fighting with the producers for more money and benefits. The kid has an educational trust fund and has started going to school. A story which shows that sometimes, destiny makes a man too. Will his life turn for the better? Will he be the lucky ‘one in a million’ who gets to climb out of crippling poverty? Or will his story be forgotten a year down the line when all this hype has died down?
Another kid with a family where her mother and her father’s current wife go to blows claiming rights over her. The old saying goes, “Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.” In this case, many mothers.
Critics say Slumdog Millionaire is a film which rides on many cliches and stereotypes. However, the real stories of some of the people associated with it have more cliches than the film itself.
For a moment, let me park aside my cynicism about the film winning multiple awards just when Hollywood studios are looking to enter Indian markets in a big way. For a moment, let me also skim over the useless debate of whether this is an Indian film, British film or an American film.
For once, I elect to ignore the fact that I didn’t personally like the movie much; and give a standing ovation to the real life stories of its cast and crew, being played out in the greatest theatre ever, the one that we choose to call ‘Life’.