Like all other movies I watch, I read up reviews and pretty much make my mind up before I watch a movie. On the rare occasions I watch a movie without expectations I end up liking it. Having read differing takes on it, I went today with my amma in tow to watch it at our local cinemas. Settling into the seat with popcorn and soda a good 20 minutes before the show we took the time to enjoy the movie going experience.
As the lights dimmed and the show was on, Amma and I were wrapped up in the movie and before we knew it it was Jai Ho and the credits rolling on screen. I really liked the movie. As much as there have been views that it is poverty porn and it shows desh in a bad light I did not feel that way. It came across as realistic to me. Perhaps all of these does not happen in sequence to one single person but I would think of it as cinematic licence.
All those school years walking past sadiq basha nagar with its alleyways and kids running around in khaki shorts hanging loose at their waists and watching one room tenement owners go about their daily life perhaps prepared me for this movie. All those years of traveling in the Southern Railways reminded me of the line of kids squatting against the wall relieving themselves oblivious to the trains whistling past. It was as natural to me as any other sight that would meet me in the bylanes of Madras. The mounds of dirt or the scavenging kids came across as realistic.
What impressed me most was the sense of hope throughout the movie. I did not find it patronizing or showing India as a country of slums and shit piles. All of it is true of India as are the call centers and the swanky high rises. The story happens to be of one from the slums. The casting director has done a fantastic job and the kids who donned the roles of the young Salim, Jamal and Latika stole my heart. They showed the spunk and the joy of life in their eyes. Each of those kids reminded me in turn of the cheeky little boy who would take clothes from our home for ironing or the one selling vegetables. The dreams of a better life shone through their eyes. The movie in a sense captures the vibrant throbbing India that I know and love. The one of hope and optimism.
Jai Ho indeed!