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A. R. Rahman rules the globe

January 13, 2009 11:44:20 AM IST
Bollywood Trade News Network
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It was SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE Shining all the way at Beverly Hills with the much feted film winning four Golden Globe awards on Sunday night. The haul had a particularly sweet note for India: music composer A R Rahman became the first Indian to win the 66-year-old prize, a momentous fact acknowledged in his acceptance speech when he said, 'I wanted this award for India.'

The engagingly shy maestro - whose hit numbers for the movie, 'Jai Ho!' and 'Ringa Ringa' are scorching global charts -- has his fingers firmly crossed in the hope that the Oscars in February will be a repeat show. It's not an unreasonable hope -- many Globe winners also pick up Oscars. The movie has won 64 awards so far, a few more from the Academy that matters would certainly be sweet music to Indian ears.

CHECK OUT: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE wins accolades world over

Ironically, the movie has still not been released in Indian theatres. When it does open on January 23, Indian audiences will find much that is familiar. The plot is almost standard Bollywood masala, albeit shot with Hollywood sensibilities. While sticking to the basic premise of Vikas Swarup's book, Q&A, about a slum lad serendipitously winning a quiz show, the film also diverges exhilaratingly, introducing an elder brother with gangland connections, and rewriting the lost-and-found scenario with the childhood sweetheart. Actor Anil Kapoor, who plays the quiz show host, recently told a TV channel that SLUMDOG was like one of the 1970s Amitabh Bachchan-Shashi Kapoor starrers. He's right - except that it's the good brother who's the protagonist, not the anti-hero.

SLUMDOG is also very different - not least in its up-close look at the poverty, squalor and cruelty of Mumbai's underbelly, rendered particularly horrifying because of the matter-of-fact way in which it is shown. You will never again hear the song 'Darshan Do Ghanshyam' without flinching after seeing this movie.

And yet, it is truly, as one western critic gushed, the feel-good movie of the decade. A frenzied romp through the bowels of the Mumbai slum, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE pulses with experiences both unspeakably brutal and unbelievably tender. It is a shameless Technicolor packaging of the Mumbai Dream, where the slum boy with an honest heart and quick mind makes good, and skips into the sunset with his pockets jingling and the girl on his arm. SLUMDOG presses all the right buttons - communal riots, police torture, the pitiless beggar trade, even call centers. British director Danny Boyle, who earned his cinematic spurs with TRAINSPOTTING and 28 DAYS LATER, simply seized the Mumbai cliche and ran with it, injecting the plot with a pathological energy that had the critics slavering and the awards rolling in.

CHECK OUT: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE Music Review

Anil Kapoor, who was at the awards ceremony, said he was blown away with Rahman's victory. 'It is historic,' Kapoor told on phone from LA. 'It's unbelievable; I just can't imagine what it means for Mumbai and India.' Co-director Loveleen Tandon added, 'SLUMDOG is a very special film for India because the film's heart is in India; and the world has appreciated it. I'm now waiting for India to give her verdict.'

Minutes before his flight took off to Los Angeles on his birthday on January 6, Rahman had said, 'A win at the Golden Globes will be the best birthday gift I can receive.' The composer was given just three weeks by Boyle to compose the score and used a mere 17 cues as opposed to the 93 cues he normally uses for a Bollywood film. Crediting Boyle for using his music effectively, Rahman said the SLUMDOG compositions are a blend of cutting-edge tunes and typically Bollywood sounds.

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