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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

This one is going to sweep the Oscars. Undoubtedly! Technically brilliant, fast-paced, action-packed, never a dull moment and a fantastic soundtrack! And those kids! Where did they find them? Their performances were beyond startling! They can act the expensive pants off India's best and brightest any day!

And yet, I came out of the movie shaking with anger. I'm sorry, and I know many of you will not agree with me, but this movie definitely shows India in a poor light (yes, use the word both ways). This movie was made for the Western audiences and Western audiences only. They will lap up something like this...the crowds, the cheats, the poverty, the dirt, flies, shit, sewers, slums, torture, cruelty...oh, I could go on! The movie doesn't portray anything about our country in a positive manner. NOTHING! Even the shot of the Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful and romantic architectural structures in the world, is not spared. The angle of the shot shows a half-dried and stinky, dirty Yamuna struggling by. WTF?!?

Reality. That is what this movie touts. Hmph! And I'm not going to raise a trivial point like 'KBC not being live' and nitpick. I do believe in poetic licence and creative stretch-of-the-imagination. But what makes me sad is that this is the only kind of 'reality' that the West will believe of us. Why is it that a 'Mother India', a 'Salaam Bombay', now a 'Slumdog Millionaire', (and yes, I'll admit it even though it's one of my fave movies by my most favouritest director in the world), a 'Pather Panchali' win rave reviews abroad. Why did three out of the above mentioned four, get a nod at the Oscars? What was so unworthy of 'Taare Zameen Par'? Didn't that portray a slice of reality too? For that matter, I found 'Fashion' to be utterly believable and realistic as well.

Once it was the perception of royally decked elephants, dancing girls with flowers in their hair and knowledgeable of all the 64 arts of the Kamasutra and half-naked fakirs with mystical, mythical powers that the West believed to be our reality. Stereotypical! And now, its dirt, dust and the dirty that they believe to be uniquely ours. Outrageously stereotypical!

And so pathetic.

10 comments:

MahaVishnu said...

But is the depiction all incorrect? -the Yamuna behind the Taj Mahal is dirty, the slums of Dharavi are ugly and dangerous. What is it that you are upset at?
The truth, perhaps?

Mama - Mia said...

well i have another pal who ttold me that its made for the western people! period!

and whats interesting in showing progress namsake? its the dirt that gives stories, nahi?!

i mean what will they show as India with swanky building, good jobs, educated people? then it will be like any other country.

@ MahaVishnu - its not about showing poor and dirt. its about showing only ONE side of the reality. and THAT is the problem.

any movie that doesnt show hungry people or filthy slums, but slice of life of people like you and me has no importance apparently!

cheers!

abha

ps: M4, Luck By Chance is kinda nice. MUCH betta than so called realistic fashion that just rode on cliches!

Monika,Ansh said...

OKay. agree there but it's a "movie" & the fact that it's showing just the ugly face of India does not atke away from the fact that it is well made .

Piper .. said...

read and reread posts on SDM but not one of them had the intensity of this post of yours!
Completely agree. I did maintain a stance of neutrality so far - that it is only a movie etc. But now I`m beginning to think that maybe they could have shown something positive about the country. Some little thing.. There`s another face to reality as well. Isnt there?

chandni said...

but the point is, it is true!

There have been Indian films that showed similar stuff without fluffing it up with the other better side...then why discomfort with this?

It could have been made for westerners...but then it isn't an Indian film anyway! Just set in india....so why should they have the responsibility of showing India as we understand it.....

I love the way u write :)

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Hehehe. I knew I was asking for it when I wrote this.

Not once am I denying the moivie its technical brilliance or its reality. I even said so in my post.

More than anger, it just saddens me that it feeds into the stereotypical notions that the West have of us. I wish they would watch a 'Taare Zameen Par', a 'Fashion' even a 'Kabhie Alvida Naa Kehenaa', before reducing us to a shithole where every form of vice abounds in plenty.

Indian Home Maker said...

I agree that the movie is made from their point of view, I guess this is how they see us most of he time ....

I LOVED the kids :) They wee so cute, so smart and great actors!

roop said...

umm Fashion was a terrible film. I don't think Oscars look for 'reality'. They look for a technically sound, well-directed film with a tight screenplay et al. Slumdog has all those ingredients.

As for TZP, it was a bit too dragged for a western audience. Although I loved that film, i felt it could use a bit of editing. TZP is getting western interest though. I know that a Non Profit working dyslexia here has copies of that film. One of the biggest organizations working with dyslexic kids have asked Aamir khan to release that film in US again by dubbing it in english. Aamir khan is looking into that apparently and he might release it on dvd with english dubbing.

I am surprized though that you mention that they should've watched shit movies like Kabhi alvida na kehna. I'd rather save me the embarassment of a worthy film audience seeing a movie like that and associate me to the country of the filmmaker. is KANK reality? it's way removed from reality too.

the point i am trying to make here is that the story demanded the slums to be shown ... and it's just a part of india ... so what? i don't have any western friends, who after watching this film, looked down on india or were condescending. instead bollywood is getting more and more recognized. indian actors are getting recognition. it's truly becoming a global cinema fraternity. it's a moment of pride for all of us - indians and americans and britishers.

SM is a good film ! The end! Just unfortunately, it happens to be shot in india and it's a genetic habit of indians to get overly defensive and overly sensitive about things that really are not a big deal. what of other international films that have won awards and they've shown underbellies of other countries too?

i haven't seen one person on any blog acknowledge the end scene of the film where the entire country - rich and poor .. young and old - cheers for the protagonist. that's something that resonated with the western audience the most as the indian spirit. that was the highlight for most of my western friends and a moment of pride for us brown skinned firangis.

I am sorry if i wrote too much or was too aggressive ... just that I am so tired of people whining and complaining about slums being shown etc. Who cares, mate! It's a part of India ... it exists ... tough! More than 75% of the country lives in poverty! Escapist films like Karan johar's gems won't change the reality except for three hours that are wasted on watching his films.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Dear Roop,

There, there. Feel better now? Yes, I have to say that was quite an aggressive response.

Just a cople of clarifications.
1) Slumdog is a technically brilliant movie. In my opnion, however, it is also a made-for-Oscars-and-BAFTA kind of a movie.

2) I hated KANK. I just used it as an example of the other kind of India. Nothing else came to my mind while I was writing this.

3) I don't think Fashion is brilliant either, but I quite liked it anyway. I just think it would be 'fun' or interesting for the West to see this happen in India too.

4) And really, about TZP? Why that's great! Something mor people should know!

I hope you have a nice time celebrating at the Oscars!

roop said...

ehhe i remembered this today .. that i'd really lost it which rarely happens. :D

i sorry ... but im sure u know why i was so worked up. i am no one to judge whether SM is oscar worthy or not. i am not a bit movie watcher ... but what i did watch, i didn't feel it was condescending. i didn't feel any less of a person being one of the very few 'indian' people in the theater with western audiences.

people enjoyed the film for the film and the story. i had a girl ask me about the locales shown in one of the train shots. i didn't know where they were. so i directed her to husband. she wants to visit india now after watching the film. it was me who told her to take friends with her esp male if she's thinking of traveling to india. movie told her to visit ... cuz everything looked so colorful ... and humanity reigned supreme througout the film.

im sorry if i took up too much space. i is done now. pakka promise :p