Thursday, February 19, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

A lot has been said of this film, the comments and claim range from awe to awful! Why has this film been so successful, so much so that the Oscars has come beckoning to the film. I presume that neither Danny Boyle nor the cast & crew might have dreamt in their wildest imagination of the film having such a dream run. People in the film circles , especially in India will argue that the film has got undue credit and it has got so much attention just because a westerner is behind the making of the film. Indian film industry churns out more films than any other in the world, and till now none of them have been given much attention until now. Why this sudden shift in focus towards SM? It seems that our talented artists, directors and other film crew members were in total oblivion until this film. What is so remarkable in this rags to riches story?, which is in itself a cliche topic and has been experimented with, in all possible angles by various directors spread across the Indian diaspora.

I think much of this has got to do with the so called preconceived notion that the west has about India. I think that most of the westerners have visualised India as the land of snake charmers,poverty ,malnourished children and off late call centre and software professionals. For most of them its a land of mysticism mixed with some amounts of exoticism. From their point of view, they will be appalled to find that any Indian can go to college in a ferrari or they can go home which apparently is sprawling mansion in a private chopper as portrayed in some Bollywood movies. For them its pseudo-India, and they might have great difficulty in digesting that. Now when we look SM as an Indian, we will argue that what the film portrays is overtly over exaggerated. Now this is where I tend to differ from the populist opinion. When i saw the film, i never felt that things were exaggerated. What the director had shown was the real brutal India. Don't we have the poverty that is depicted in the movie ? Don't we have rude policemen? Don't we have corrupt officials? Don't we have reports of repeated attack and molestation of foreign nationals visiting India? Don't we have red light areas? Isn't it true that there is large scale child trafficking? Isn't it true that child sexual abuse is rampant? Isn't it true that murder, rape and extortion are quite rampant and the frequency of occurrence is quite high? Isn't it a fact that we have a very sensitive issues ranging from communal, regional, son of the soil theory etc ? which constantly flare up and when it does it takes a huge toll on the society. So these all were depicted in the movie, and a bit of masala was sprinkled in the form of love, the game show and nice background score. The result is a very peppy and nice to feel film of the year. The argumentative Indian as quoted by Amartya Sen, find this as an insult, we feel that we are not plagued by some of the social issues portrayed in the film, we feel that its something that is not true, whereas its a hard cold authentic fact, we do face the issues and this is happening in India.

Recently, when David Miliband a British politician who is the current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs had toured India, he did not visit the swanky new IT offices, or the infrastructure growth of India or even if he did it was not highlighted. The only thing that was portrayed was his stay in rural village in Amethi, that too he spent in a cow shed! Well its an absolute humbug, i can vouch for that, i happened to read an article in The Telegraph by Peter Foster about this taradiddle and its heading is something like this "David Miliband's Indian village visit: 'What a *&^%ing joke!' Its no exaggeration, you can access this article by clicking on this link further reading.
Well things don't end there, we also have Prince Charles lecturing on the environment friendly Dharavi slum, and how this can be adopted to other structure's in the world to reduce the carbon footprint thereby reducing the global warming. So these are the major things that catches the western eye.

So as mentioned by me earlier a majority of the westerners probably go ga ga over the poverty stricken, undernourished, and underdeveloped India, rather than accept the fact that things are changing. The western world have not reached their present status overnight, it took them a long long time. Compared to that, we are flourishing at an enormous rate, its just less than a two decades since we have moved from a very strict conservative pseudo-socialist era to a more constructive capitalist era. If we can achieve so much in such a small span of time, then we have stand a very good chance of having a bright future i.e. if we can manage to sustain this growth. Even when the current recession is playing a spoilsport to all the major economies around the world, India is the least affected by this downturn as per the world bank report.

Coming back to the hype surrounding the movie SM, will the dream run continue at the Oscars? Well i guess it will, and it will be a clean sweep. We will have them dancing to the tune of Chaiyya Chaiyya at the Oscars!