“Slumdog Millionaire” wins Best Picture and 6 other Oscars, including two for A.R. Rahman, for Best Original Song and Best Original Score.

I found out recently that A.R. Rahman, the Academy award winning composer of “Slumdog Millionaire” as well as many other Bollywood films, was inspired by Sufism and converted from Hinduism to Islam in 1989.  His full name is Allah Rakkha Rahman.  He comes from a Tamil background and said “God is Great” in Tamil after he won the first Oscar.  Congratulations to A.R. Rahman as well as to the other Muslim actors in the film including Irrfan Ali Khan, who plays the police inspector, Rubina Ali who plays the young Latika character, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail who plays the young Salim character and Mozhim Shakim Sheikh Qureshi who played the crippled slum kid.  Both Rubina and Azharuddin are real life “slum dwellers” in Mumbai.

“Slumdog Millionaire” was definitely a great film, and deserved to win Best Picture, as well as Best Director, Danny Boyle.

The film is about a young Muslim kid, Jamal Malik (played by Dev Patel) growing up in the streets of Mumbai and how his life experiences help him answer random quiz show questions on the Indian version of “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”

The story is very moving and the young child actors are amazing in their portrayal of the difficult life in the slums of India.  Some Hindus were critical of the film because they did not like how Hindus were portrayed in the film (A Hindu mob attacks the Muslims in Mumbai and kill Jamal’s mother).  To that I say, “Don’t Complain – because you always portray Muslims as evil and backward in most Bollywood films, so chill out and just enjoy the fact that India and some of its actors, musicians and filmmakers are getting praised and honored on the World Stage!”

The film was raw, yet elegant at the same time.  It didn’t pull any punches and the story was fully engaging throughout the whole film.  Credit goes to the screenplay, cinematography, editing and sound mixing – all of which won Oscars in their respective categories.

I was not surprised with Slumdog’s success because it was an excellent movie, but I was surprised that “Waltz with Bashir”, the Israeli animation about the 1982 Invasion of Lebanon, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film, did not win!

Normally any film for and about Jews, especially about the Holocaust win some type of award from Hollywood.

But of course, “Waltz with Bashir” is no Holocaust film.  It is a unique animation which takes a documentary-type look at  Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and critically examines at how the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), led by Ariel Sharon at the time, allowed the Lebanese Christian Militia to attack and massacre the Palestinian Refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.

I guess the Academy, still does not want to give any type of credence to any film which may seem to criticize the state of Israel.  Just as “Paradise Now” the 2005 film by Hany Abu-Assad about two Palestinians who are preparing for a suicide attack in Israel, was also nominated for Best Foreign Film but did not win the Oscar either.

One day, Insha’Allah (God Willing) we will get there – but for now, all the Muslim TV and Film producers, musicians, actors, actresses, and artists need to keep working hard and telling our stories – because we can no longer afford to wait for others to speak on our behalf!

  • http://zakiscorner.blogspot.com Zaki

    Thanks for your eloquent, nuanced appraisal of this year’s ceremony.

    Check out my blog for a slightly different approach. :-)

    BTW, really enjoying your blog!

  • javed

    Nice write up Irfan,
    I like your term raw but elegant. I think its a good film but not something I could watch again. Great insights.
    jm

  • Nazia

    hey,

    Good job! keep going with the blog! And i agree that we need more movies like these to deliver our message to a bigger audience!

    Nazia

  • Prasad K

    Hi,

    I don’t understand where you got an impression that “Hindus were offended” by the Slumdog movie.

    In fact, the opposition to the film was on the grounds of the show of poverty (“poverty porn”) – it has nothing to do with religion. The problem with your type of Muslims is “persecution complex”. You need to get out of it.

    As a (non-practicing Hindu), neither me nor the other Hindus i know were the least offended by the movie. We all loved it infact, not because of the poverty (it is heartbreaking to actually see how those little children – whether Hindus or Muslims – live in Dharavi, its downright shameful), but because of the underlying optimistic undercurrent of the movie and how Jamaal races against all odds.

    And i would like your type of Muslims t also understand this – that the ONLY muslim who has been honored by an Academy Award (in fact 2 awards) is A R Rahman, an Indian! So my question is – why, what happened- wasn’t Pakistan formed because “muslims needed their own space”? Well, what is Pakistan’s achievement in the last 60 years – terrorism? Hatred? What else?

    Only in the secular, all-embracing idea of “India” will opportunities bloom for Hindus, Muslim, Christians, Jews, Parsis …

    Prasad K

    • irydhan

      Dear Prasad
      Thanks for your comment.
      First of all I have nothing against Hindus or India. In fact some of my relatives live in India and I have a few Hindu friends.
      Second – there are many, many reports of Hindus calling slumdog an “Anti-Hindu” film. There are also many critics from India who did not like the film for several reasons – mainly because they believe it shows Hindus in a negative light and also because it shows the “underbelly” of India, which they do not want the rest of the world to see or know about. You can google search to find many Indian sites which talk bad or against the film. So you dont have to believe me – read it for yourself.
      In regards to A.R. Rahman being the only Muslim to win an Oscar, that is not true. In 2007, Nafees Bin Zafar, a Bangladeshi-American won the Scientific and Technical Academy Award (Oscar).
      In regards to your comments about Pakistan. It’s true Pakistan has many problems, especially with their government, but to try to compare it to India – you are just putting yourself in a hole. Because even though India claims to be the largest “democracy” in the world – we all know that it’s goverment is very Pro-Hindu and Anti-minority – especially against Muslims. The Indian goverment did nothing, and some say, helped to facilitate the Riots in Gujarat which killed thousands of Muslims. The Indian police is also known to allow Hindu mobs to attack and Kill Muslims, which was also shown in the film, Slumdog Millionaire – when the Hindu mobs were rioting and killing Muslims in Mumbai – which is based on true incidents.
      I’m a fair person, that is why I allowed your comment to be shown on my blog – but please check your facts before you start attacking Muslims and claiming that India is the best place for people to succeed. That is simply not true and anyone who knows the facts will see that!
      Thanks again for your comments.
      Peace Be With You.
      Irfan

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