Slumdog Millionaire: Brilliant yet flawed

Finally watched Slumdog Millionaire. Really enjoyed it – it was an energetic, well directed journey. The child actors especially played their roles brilliantly and made you love them.

The flawed aspect was the over dramatization of slum life. Jamal as a child encountered pretty much every bad thing you hear about slums (riots, child beggar exploitation, prostitution, slum lords). You could see how the movie was catering to Western audiences, to every stereotype about India – you could see the calculation that for an Indian movie to do well in the west, it has to tell a certain story. (Its not a coincidence that the after Salaam Bombay (which is also about life in slums), this is the next movie about India to break out into the world stage.)

It did break out of that mold somewhat after the middle when the focus was on Jamaal’s life as a young man, with life as a chaiwala in the call center. I think the first half of the movie could have been been much less dramatic and still managed to get across the range of life experiences picked up by this child from the slums.

But in spite of the pandering, the movie had a certain joi de vivre. Every moment of the movie was enjoyable. The music (by AR Rahman) was brilliant. India has been in love with his music for many years now, but this is his entry to the world stage. Overall, a lovely movie, less pandering next time please.

Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge

I bought a new bike two weeks ago. Its a hybrid Trek and I am loving it. We started biking to work (except for early morning meetings – I need every minute on those days).

Last weekend we rode our bikes to Ocean Beach. We took the Wiggle (a non hilly route to get from Duboce to Panhandle through Lower Haight – and I learnt that its a San Francisco biking landmark), through the Golden Gate to Ocean Beach and back.

This week was more adventuerous – we rode our bikes through Soma, Embarcadero, Marina and across the Golden Gate Bridge. We were exhausted by the time we got there, so we biked to the Sausalito Ferry and took that back (map of route embedded below).

Today, I have aches and pains all over. But it was exhilarating biking across the city along the water (I enjoyed that more than the Golden Gate Bridge). I do need to get better at biking over hills though.

Startups are hard. Putting your body under some stress during the weekend – the way your mind is stressed over the week – is a good way to restore balance. As I keep reminding myself, startups are a marathon, not a sprint.