Sunday, May 24, 2009

First Thoughts after Slumdog Millionaire

I missed it when it was in the cinemas, so I picked up the DVD instead. I like the fact that many critically acclaimed movies are released on inexpensive DVD (RM20), such as Amazing Grace and Once.

Fresh from the movie, these are some of the thoughts that came to mind:

A.R. Rahman (the music composer) was right; sometimes it is your year, and sometimes it isn't. He was asked by a TIME magazine reader if he thought he was more talented than some composers who have been nominated many times but never won; he won two Oscars for Best Music and Best Original Song.

He was right, because the song that won, 'Jai Ho', sounds unmistakably Bollywood. It is not a bad song at all, but I cannot help thinking that a major part of why it won is because it was a novelty in Hollywood. Likewise, the year before, the indie movie Once took home the same award for 'Falling Slowly', written and performed by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.

These 'foreign products' are in many ways more artistically accomplished than a lot of what Hollywood churns out, but I cannot help thinking there are many more out there that would, objectively and empirically, stand a chance at such awards but for the fact that they are not released in the States.

Nonetheless what Slumdog Millionaire manages to do is continue to widen America's window on the world, internationalising the highest echelons of cinema. The Chinese did it in 2000 with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and now the Indians have, too.

And because every culture in the world has its way of telling stories, this 'infiltration' of Hollywood can hardly be anything but good for the film industry. And I expect we will see many more of these in the years to come.

Viva cinema!

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