A.R. Rahman, Rasool Pookutty and Gulzar won Academy Awards for their work in Slum Dog Millionaire. Am I proud of these men who finally got their international recognition?
Yes, I am so proud that I jumped with joy, and stayed up in spite of having high fever. Was their work outstanding enough to merit academy awards? Having seen two of the movies nominated for Best Music Score, WALL-E and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I don't think A.R. Rahman's score for Slumdog was any better. This was also not the best film that came out of India to address the pain and suffering of Mumbai slums. The film was at best poverty-porn, which was clearly entertaining and uplifting to a western audience who was reeling from their financial crises and needed to see people living under much worse conditions. Entertainment at whose expense? Ours of course. A sort of voyeuristic entertainment from seeing poverty and exploitation at Dickensian levels.
Should we really feel proud about these awards? A few golden statuettes cannot heal insults thrown at our citizens through this movie. A.R. Rahman who gave us so many hits, far greater in composition and musical texture gets an academy award for a number song that would not have seen the light of day, had it been part of any of his previous albums. There may not be a major conspiracy behind these awards as some might allude. What ever the mechanics that work behind these awards, they are clearly not based on the artistic merits of Slumdog Millionaire. I can safely conclude that the mood at the Kodak Theater yesterday was to some how remunerate the people and nation who provided Chicken Soup for the soul at a time of terrible crisis.