Those were the days when I, as a kid, like most others of my age, used to be fascinated about a few things that were clearly larger than life; so much larger, that they were dreams, not a part of life at all. It was a protected India then, and what we folks got to taste and relish were homegrown produce. The rest of them were only 'hearsay'.
Like the "Fastest" bike, Yamaha; like the sleak, trendy, powerful BMW; like that mystic fabled drink, Coca-Cola; like those awards they used to give to amazing films beyond imagination, the Oscars!
As we grew up, we thought it was okay to have expectations of Indian movies winning at the Oscars. The first movie that I could recall having associated with Oscar dreams was by the Legendary Mani Ratnam, starring none other than the versatile genius, Kamal Hassan, "Nayagan". "Hey, did you know that they are going to "send" Nayagan for the Oscars?" That should be way back in the mid 80's.
Then, there was serious talk about our own Aamir's "Lagaan". And boy, did it not deserve a Universal Acclaim as the Academy Awards! By then, Oscar was very much within reach. Still, it was eluding.
Fast forward to Aamir Khan, again. With "Taare Zameen Par", we made a convincing case for the most Prestigious awards in the industry. With such delicate handling of the subject, we did have a right to expect the best in the world.
Then, History was made! One movie about the slums and shit holes of Mumbai was seen winning the Golden Globe. Then, it was again in the news for BAFTA. By now, there were 10 nominations for the Oscars! There were celebrations all around. Channels and news papers were beaming with hope.
And here has it arrived like a bolt, storming across nations, cultures and audiences, with people across India identifying so emotionally with their long cherished dream. Amidst mixed reactions, disbelief, debates, editorials, analyses, "Slumdog Millionaire" has literally smashed all expectation levels, with a sweeping 8 awards at the Global arena!
The kids are on stage now, stealing the limelight among the most watched, talked about and enormously paid international stars. For them, Oscar is not a dream beyond imagination.
The Nation adores AR Rahman, now more than ever before. The audience that has been mesmerised by his intriguing notes, thrilled by his technically sound beats, enthralled by his voice that goes weaved along the finest blend of instrumental magic, now has a new Face of the Nation to be proud of.
Oscar is no yardstick for Indian cinema. For the average Indian, "Slumdog Millionaire" may not be as good a movie as, say, a Masterpiece like "Roja" by Mani Ratnam. For a hardcore AR Rahman fan, "Jai Ho!" may not even be in the top ten compositions by the magician.
What "Sumdog Millionaire" has done, is to project Indian cinema, its technicians like Resul Pookutty and Indian Music to movie lovers the world over. It may not be the best of Indian movies ever made, but it has gone a long way in making the world take notice of "Bollywood". The incidents narrated through the movie, its characters, the backdrop, they may all be mostly negative, painting a bleak picture of what the fabled Indian shine and glory is, for the curious foreigner who wants to take a sneak peek of this historical nation; but we are not here to seek certificates on our standards and culture on world stage. This is cinema and the immensely talented pool of artists have got abundant world-wide recognition today, which not many other creations of this medium have succeeded in as yet.
For those who are really worried about an exposed underbelly, let's work to clear the filth out there in the real world. For the average Indian movie lover who celebrates the celluloid dearer than the things he loves in life, let's rejoice this moment with no guilt or remorse. This is an Indian movie, a sound Indian technician and an Indian music Ace that have glittered all the way through the Red Carpet on that big arena. There haven't been many moments that would parallel this glorious occasion!
"Bollywood" has got itself coined after "Hollywood". It's time we created our own unique identity and a powerful brand out of Indian Cinema. "Slumdog Millionaire" may very well have come to define that new era!