Coincidental Exhibitions

Strange Coincidences

So let me tell you a remarkably strange story about coincidences, clear and imagined. In October 2008, whilst returning from a break in the Drakensberg, I had a two day stay in Durban. The first night, I accompanied a family friend to an Exhibition opening at Kizo Gallery, Umhlanga. Being a Monday evening, it was a fairly sedate but definitely prolific crowd that gathered. The artist was Aparna Swarup and featured a beautiful collection of photographs of Allahabad, a place in India, where there is a confluence of three holy rivers. At the exhibition I met the artist’s husband, an Indian diplomat based in Pretoria, Vikas Swarup. The husband was cordial and polite. A chance encounter I thought nothing of at the time.

Golden Globes

Fours months later in January 2009, I am in Johannesburg, watching the Golden Globe awards and suddenly there is buzz about the new Danny Boyle film Slumdog Millionaire. Of course Slumdog wins countless Golden Globe awards and suddenly there is loads of media attention. Looking up the Golden Globe awards, I found that the film Slumdog Millionaire was based on a book Q & A by Vikas Swarup. I still didn’t make any connection until I returned to Durban and the family friend mentioned that the artist’s husband I met was Vikas Swarup and the book was an Indian version centering on a wonderful story of how a poverty-stricken boy comes to be on the Quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire set in Mumbai.

slumdog_millionaire

From Shallow Grave

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to Slumdog Millionaire

The film rights had been taken up and Q and A was filmed as Slumdog Millionaire tipped for Oscar glory. What better director than Danny Boyle the Manchester bred director who had brought British cinema into limelight again with such films as the Scottish thriller Shallow Grave and Trainspotting and launched the careers of Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox.

Trainspotting was an instant cult hit in the early 1990s and with a superb soundtrack and frenetic direction, filmgoers saw Edinburgh, crack addiction and trains in an entirely different light. Having met the author of Q and A, now suitably piqued by the curiosity of Danny Boyle’s film version, I purchased the novel and devoured it within a week relishing the wonderful way Swarup entwines the stories of his hero, Jamal with how he manages to reach the final and tantalizing finale of the Quiz show and shedding some light on the horrors and joys of contemporary India.

2009 Oscars come and go, Slumdog Millionaire sweeps the board, the soundtrack wins best original score, the film wins best director for Boyle and suddenly the stars Freda Pinto and Dev Patel are appearing on US talk shows, dancing Bollywood style with the likes of Ellen de Generes. The best part about seeing Slumdog Millionaire for me was watching it in the Supernova theatre at Suncoast Coast and experiencing the full brilliance of such a wonderful and frenetic film, a lush and hectic slant on modern day India. Nothing like watching a film on the big screen, the impact of which surely diminishes once a viewer sees it on DVD.

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