Phir Bhi Dil Hai Filmistani


Slumdog Millionaire is that rare combination of a strong plot and skilful storytelling that marries grit and glamour seamlessly.

You would think that a firang‘s depiction of India would be all ‘exotic desh’…swollen-bellied babies starving outside the Taj Mahal and begging children. The movie does have hunger, poverty, slums, streetkids and beggars. Even the Taj Mahal. But of course, can you realistically expect a foreigner to be able to resist showing that in a movie about India?

And yet, Danny Boyle manages to veer away from cliched expressions and brings us the story of the great Indian dream. Money, love, fame, glamour all after struggle, grit, disappointment and insurmountable hurdles. What’s all this hoo-halla about glamourising poverty? Haven’t you heard of rags-to-riches tales?

I remember the hysteria that gripped the nation surrounding the first winner of Kaun Banega Crorepati. Why was the show so popular? I doubt anyone going through the Indian education system could really, truly care about learning and knowing more. The quest of knowledge was certainly not what kept people glued to the show. Why then did people dance on the streets, why was there so much excitement surrounding the jackpot success of a guy nobody knew? Because he was one of them. Just an anonymous one of the millions. He represented a dream that was suddenly a possibility. What one of them them could do, the rest could very well aspire to.

What’s a boy from the teeming millions doing shaking hands with the most famous man in the country? That’s real life meeting larger-than-life. Look me in the eye and tell me that that doesn’t touch you.

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8 thoughts on “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Filmistani

  1. Shantanu February 26, 2009 at 22:42 Reply

    This is so in the face.. well said..

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  2. A February 27, 2009 at 10:20 Reply

    You remember that scene when Jamal gets beaten up for the stolen car-parts and that firang holds him bleeding…and he says “You wanted to see some real India, this is it”…and the lady extends out the dollars and gasps “Well this is from a real Amreican…” something like that.

    I’m not sure about that reply – but that whole scene captures something quintessential in the movie…something thematic. Because if you interchange the identities, it’s still right, genuine! It went a little unnoticed.

    And I had lot other ways to relate to the movie 🙂

    Between, tell you what – I’ve been in touch with Omair after our session…and he has been very assisting in all the discussions thereafter 🙂 What abt you?

    As last idea: The Curious Case of S…

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  3. Pragni March 1, 2009 at 02:54 Reply

    Now that you put it that way..

    I was just writing a post about how I did not like Slumdog, but it is steadily wearing away my dislike day after day, the more I think about it..

    Also, I sent you an email about a week ago.. Just letting you know, coz we have a history of our emails landing up in spam!!

    Pragnis last idea: Delhi 6, a letter to the director

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  4. which Main? What Cross? March 4, 2009 at 16:22 Reply

    You are right. It’s a powerful story and beautifully shot. But the first half of the movie was difficult to watch. Only the visuals held your attention. Luckily the movie picks up in the second half.

    which Main? What Cross?s last idea: Bada Makaan Cross, Off H Siddiah Road

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  5. IdeaSmith March 9, 2009 at 11:32 Reply

    @ Shantanu: 🙂

    @ A: I remember that scene. It made me snigger but didn’t touch me that way. The falling in s@#t and tearing to get the star’s autograph scene was really impactful, I thought. I haven’t kept in touch with Omair…somehow I’m reluctant to intrude into his time, badgering him for feedback (the way I did at the workshop). But I’m glad that it’s working well for you – he did come across as a very nice, approacheable person.

    @ which Main? What Cross? Hmm, I don’t know, I liked the entire run. In fact the early bits with the kids were really poignant, or so I thought.

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  6. Ms Taggart March 10, 2009 at 15:02 Reply

    It does touch, and some in some part in your heart, you are feeling good after seeing that movie. But for me, all that good feeling vanished when I saw the over hype the media created around that movie. For Pete’s sake.. thats not an Indian movie. Its just filmed in India with Indian actors.. yes, its a matter of pride that it won Oscars, but that does not show in any way that Bollywood has arrived!

    Ms Taggarts last idea: Amnesia!

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  7. A March 11, 2009 at 20:19 Reply

    Hmm. Well I thought you weren’t badgering Omair for the feedback…in fact you were the one most analytical in your questions and actually ‘used’ his presence to the good effect. I was there only on the second day so don’t what preceded it on the first 🙂

    And as for the reluctance, hmm there’s always many more things to discuss than just feedbacks, isn’t it…?

    As last idea: The Curious Case of S…

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  8. IdeaSmith March 12, 2009 at 13:33 Reply

    @ Ms Taggart: Yes, excessive hype does have that effect, doesn’t it? My premise is that just because you can’t stand the salesman’s hard-sell, don’t assume that his product is bad. (too much marketing gyaan?).

    @ A: 🙂 Thank you very much. I was constantly conscious that I was being too pushy. Incidently both day 1 and 2 were similar – equally good, that is. And yes, I’m sure there would be a lot I’d love to discuss with him but it goes back to my reluctance to impinge on someone’s space. Moreover for an accomplished writer like him, I’m sure there are plenty of people vying for his time and attention and I wouldn’t want to take advantage of his niceness.

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