I watched a filmic adaption of a popular novel that was candid yet so beautifully portrayed that it made the idea of India real to me for the first time in a long while… You see, I’m not what you would call a typical "Indian" – I do not like spicy curries, don’t wear saris and I have never enjoyed Bollywood movies. That is not to say I’m not akin to celebrating my cultural and religious upbringing; I’m just not that into those particular facets of so-called "Indian tradition". I do, however, love a good Indian story, and it seems, in particular, tales that emerge from the the political unrest surrounding India’s independence, make for the best stories in my books.
The rich tapestry of trials and tribulations lace Hollywood’s latest offering, "Slumdog Millionaire" but the beauty of this movie shines through in the cinematography, direction and eloquent story-telling. The film was turned into a screenplay from Vikas Swarup‘s legendary novel, "Q&A", which tells the tale of a ‘young, penniless waiter in Mumbai who becomes the biggest winner on a quiz show’ in history. "Slumdog Millionaire is one of the best screen adaptations of a book I’ve seen and the enjoyed the splendour of the filmic techniques used to shoot the movie in a way that makes it come to life, and allows one to truly relate to the characters whilst watching the drama unfold.
Vikas Swarup’s debut novel "Q & A", is a one of the many novels by India’s post-colonial writers that looks at the realities of the Indian situation amidst the dire poverty, political uprisings and western influence. Swarup is presently posted in Pretoria as India’s Deputy High Commissioner to South Africa. I read an interview in the Sunday papers regarding his newest novel where he mentions his fascination with capturing the mood of India before and after it’s independence was declared. He goes to give his opinion of the similarities that one can find between India and South Africa, based on his time spent living amongst Mzansi’s people.
Whilst watching "Slumdog Millionaire", which btw. has received multiple Oscar nominations, I too noticed the analogous spirit of the people being portrayed and realized that as a nation, we’re not far different to other countries who are also striving for a better life. The plot around the game show kind of also reminded me of what prime TV time is like in South Africa when there’s a series that really catches our attention – a bit like what "Idols" or "The Amazing Race" is set to do in the coming months.
There are some fantastic movies worth paying attention to this Oscar season so be sure to watch and discuss them as you see fit.