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!