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Posts Tagged ‘Q&A’

633516328495781250I read Vikas Swarup’s Q&A sometime in 2006 and found it to be wildly refreshing. A rare phenomenon considering that the author was an Indian. Say what you will, but I am of the opinion that most Indian writers are unoriginal; the ones who make a living out of it only seem to possess the acumen for marketing and creating sales-pitches. The ones who win awards for mediocrity and then gloat about it on news channels need to be punched in the face. Case in point, Kiran Desai, Arvind Adiga, Jhumpa Lahiri and any other author who has waxed nostalgic about sitting under blue mango trees during those idyllic summer vacations at granny’s house.

I bought Q&A from one of those roadside vendors in Mumbai. I’d like to say that I bought this out of that accidental artistic instinct that drives admirers towards objects of obscure beauty, but I’d be lying. My sister agreed to pay for the Shantaram novel and I guess I decided to play hardball.

I devoured Q&A in one sitting; something I had not done since Pierre’s Vernon God Little, Kesey’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Thuber’s Carnival. I was impressed by Vikas Swarup’s ability to put out a page-turner without resorting to cheap “I bet you won’t believe what happens in the next page” tactics. That’s the sort of thing that separates adrenaline mongers like Sydney Sheldon and Dan Brown from decent “pulp fiction” writers such as Frederick Forsyth and Iain Banks. The climax, despite being cheesy, ultimately left me with a sweet taste in my mouth. All was right with the world, I felt. A feeling that eluded me towards the end of Slumdog Millionaire.

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On the bright side, Slumdog Millionaire gave a lot of credibility to the age-old presumption that the “book” is always better than the “film”. While I think it’s a bit harsh to indiscriminately believe that, I do find myself agreeing with that notion more feverishly than ever before. Swarup’s words elevated the basic premise of Q & A and cleverly bypassed it through a bunch of whimsical philosophies to keep the content fresh, relevant and airy enough to make you yearn for more. In Slumdog Millionaire, the dialogues seemed tactless and forcibly dramatic. Danny Boyle’s cinematic street credo (something he used with great effect in Trainspotting) was innocent bystander as he seemingly let his fascination for poverty take control of his portrayal of the Mumbai slums.

With the exception of Freida Pinto as Latika and Irfan Khan as the police inspector, the rest of the cast seemed overtly conscious that they were being directed by that dude who made Trainspotting. Ms Pinto was good since she downplayed her emotions and along with the very talented Irfan gave the film a much needed sense of nonchalance. Another aspect to commend was definitely the music. MIA is fantastic, of course and when inspired AR Rahman crafts out lovely, lovely tunes. Unfortunately, as a friend observed, the song at the climax sounded very inappropriate. And before I forgot…Mr AR Rahman, as a fan of some of your previous works and this one too, I certainly don’t consider it an honour that you now have the ignominy of being clubbed alongside previous Golden Globe winners such as Celine Dione (fucking twice), Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Samuel Wright, and Berlin. No, no…you are better than that.

filmnotes1205_500Dev Patel was a disappointment…at no point did I feel that he deserved sympathy or redemption. The vacant, almost fatalistic expression that seemed his face in almost every tragic scene in Slumdog Millionaire was so remarkably different to the essence of Q & A’s protagonist – a young lad who is not clever enough to be indifferent but merely intuitive enough to consider it. I know I know…how in the hell do you ask an actor to express such emotions? Well, I am too sure but I can safely say that hiring a chocolate-faced actor without so much as a blemish on his face wouldn’t be the right way to approach it. Oh and is it just me or does Dev Patel look like a cross between that retarded kid in Nayagan and that emotional anarchist in Kanda Naal Mudhaal? Also, Anil Kapoor? Really? The wry, quick-witted and gloriously evil quizmaster character in the novel is now the product of a totally unsafe orgy featuring the likes of Simon Cowell, Regis Phlbin and a few of those “Better English For Effective Communication” tutors who mask their horrid south Indian accent with an even worse American accent.

The brutality that the slum kids suffer seemed like a sycophantic social strand that was forcibly transmitted into the script just to prove that the white people bleed when brown people get hurt or perhaps to reiterate one of the most annoying statements mankind has ever come stumbled upon…“Think of the CHILDREN!”

Well, I guess I did tear into the film a bit, but unlike many times before, I don’t see myself softening to it a few days later. Yes…Slumdog Millionaire is a perfectly acceptable melodrama that does not put you to sleep. Yes…it never intimidates the audience with inherent stupidity. Yes…the music was pretty good too. But is it worthy of a Golden Globe award for best motion picture?

sgehrp68290507013829photo00photo… hmmmm mark that one as a “Yes” too. Oh and just so you know about Golden Globes’ remarkably piss-poor standards…Barbra Streisand, Michael Douglas, Warren Beatty and Robin Williams were given the lifetime achievement awards for their contribution to motion pictures. So please go ahead and give it the Academy award for Best Motion Picture too and let it rot alongside the overrated likes of Titanic and Braveheart.

Slumdog Millionaire…more of a French poodle than an underdog.

Oh, and read Q&A.

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Sometimes the world rules…

Slumdog Millionaire: It’s fantastic that Danny Boyle teamed up with Vikas Swarup. It’s not often that a great novel gets to be made into good movie (yeah that went well…grrr  read here). I almost get a headache thinking about how much better Q & A is when compared to any Booker Prize-winning Indian novel.

Shoe-In: Cheers for George Bush-based flash games. Finally, sliced bread has stiff competition. I just hope Lebanon and Turkey don’t go to war over the shoe’s origins.

The Wrestler: Mickey Rourke’s stamp of approval for underground wrestling. Fake you too, soothsayers.

Trinket, Montane Trinket: A new species of snake has apparently been discovered near Goa. Added to that, a new forest has been discovered in the northern Mozambique region of southern Africa. Yippee…the world is having an abortion.

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Sometimes it chews on donkey balls…

Ghajini, It Seems: Apparently South India didn’t do enough damage to Memento. And kudos to that Bollywood guy who claims Ghajini is not a remake of Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece. He’s right, you know? It is not just a remake; it is a piss-poor, batshit crazy, self-defecating, puerile remake.

High School High: Congress has demanded that minority affairs minister Antulay should take his comment back regarding the death of Hemant Karkare. The minister apparently replied, “You take your comment back”, to which Congress said, “oh yeah…” thereby initiating a 2-hour staring contest.

Broadcast Media: With no specific natural disaster scheduled for next year and with Indian security being tightened up to avoid terrorist attacks, the media has now decided to make people paranoid about polio vaccination.

Popular Genes: A random study showed that teens become more popular if they carry the human gene linked to rule breaking, adding more steam to the theory that to rebel is to battle Attention Deficit Disorder.

Epiphany: Jeers to everyone in general for requiring a panel of experts to tell them “Indian and Pakistani journalists have been acting like nationalists instead of like journalists.” You could have dug up Helen Keller from her grave and asked her instead.

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