Thursday, January 29, 2009

Liquid Dance

Slumdog Millionaire- A lot has been said and written about it. I am probably the last one to join the party.

A recent article by Arindam Chaudhri made me write this post. It reads,

"When the West wanted Indians to embrace them and their companies to come to India and capture the lucrative markets, suddenly we had all the Indian women, some very beautiful and some not necessarily so, winning all the Miss Universe and Miss Worlds. Today, they are in a crisis and India is looking unstoppable despite its slums and poverty, and they are losing their businesses to us. Isn’t it the best time to paint India as the Slumdog Millionaire?? All in all, the film is nothing but an endorsement of an erstwhile imperial mindset of the West and its blinkered vision of India. An English master has made an Indian slumdog. Don’t even waste your time watching this film in the theatres. It sucks and there is nothing great in it as a film too."

The whole article can be found here.

Q) Is SM really a great movie?

Ans) A simple story, wonderful cinematography, breathtaking shots, enthralling music, great acting. If these are the ingredients of a good movie, then yeah SM is one. But then its far from great. Beyond its glossy package, its basically a typical Bollywood movie. Orphan brothers, hapless girl in difficult circumstances, evil-brother turning-good-at-end and even a Bollywood dance number. Its filled with cliches. But then the way Boyle has presented all of this is incredible. Within all the violence and adventures, theres one thing that binds this movie. Hope and Love. I watched it twice. :)

Q) Does SM distort the image of India in any way? Does it stereotype all Indians as Slumdogs?

Ans) No it doesnt. The protagonist of the film is from a slum. What do you expect to see? The Raj Bhawan? If I were to make a film on call girls in Florida and show their life throughout the film, it does not mean Floridan girls whores. Perhaps the racy cinematography, much like the City of Gods, makes SM feel like a documentary, but then its not. Its just a work of fiction. Yeah the violence in the children's life was too graphic but then we are not new to violence in slum films are we? Satya, Comapny anyone? As cliched it may seem, India is a diverse country.Where poverty and opportunities live side by side. This film is just about the dark side. If there was no objection to Mira Nair for making "Salaam Bombay", why then the dissing of SM. Is it because an "Westerner" has done so?

Q) If SM had been made by an Indian director, would it have gained the same appreciation?

Ans) Now thats a hypothetical question. I dont think any present Indian director would have been able to do justice to the story. When directors are cash-happy making movies like Golmaal and CC2C, I dont think any Indian director would like to venture towards making a film like this. And we cant blame them, can we? But considering that some exceptional Indian director had made the movie, I dont think the movie would have got all the international acclaim it has got now. But then isnt it natural? I mean, a movie is always made with a select audience in mind. How many regional films have you seen this year, even if they were mind blowing. None? Well, thats because they were not made for you. Similarly, a film by an Indian director would have been made for an Indian audience. Films like Children of Heaven are so popular inspite of being foreign language films because they are that good.

Q) Does the West love to see India as a Third World country? And was this film made to satisfy this morbid pleasure of theirs?

Ans) I dont think so. Yeah, there will be always be some stereotyping. Dont we stereotype the Americans as sex obsessed and morally weak? :P But again, the world has come a long way from seeing India as a land of snake charmers, elephants and slums. I remember a joke I once read on an American website. It read.

"Earlier when my kids didnt eat, I said to them, ' Eat kids, think of the million Indian kids who dont get a morsel'. Now when my grandchildren dont eat, I say, ' Eat kids, think of the million Indian kids who will snatch that morsel from you.'"

Only no American laughs at that joke now.

No reviewer has stated that he loved the movie because it showed India in a poor light. Its a "feel good" film, thats it. And its a shame that people like Arindam are so biased that they not delved into the underlying theme of the film and are just floating at the surface - Slums.

Q) Should we celebrate SM's success?

Ans) A lot of film personalities like Mahesh Bhatt have voiced that we should not celebrate SM's success because it is "their" film. Well I differ. As I said before, SM is basically a Bollywood film at heart. Danny Boyle has done a tremendous job in telling an Indian story in an universal way. A R Rahman has been nominated for 3 Oscars. Nearly the whole cast of the movie is Indian. Freida Pinto, an Indian model is getting worldwide recognition. Many Indians have worked for the movie. Lets celebrate for them. At a time when we brighten up everytime Aish is on the Cannes carpet and everytime Shahrukh rubs shoulders with Tom Cruise, why not celebrate SM's dream run. Atleast I would be the first one to clap if it wins the Oscars. :)


krazywordsmith said...

hi saint...
well, interesting post indeed...but then like I've pointed out in my post, I hav a different opinion abt the muvi...thanx heavens that our country gives us the freedom to differ... cheers!

bein_suneilish said...

@Skeptic Saint

Q)Have i got anything else to add on ur topic??

A)Nope...u haven't left anything to b added...answered all questions..and put all the doubts to rest..cud u by any chance make Mr. chaudhuri read ur blog...he'd be really ignorant if he doesn't feel stupid at what all he has stated...but he is not to be blamed man!..its our mentality after all..we indians embrace an 'om shanti om' showing "punar janam" crap (which obviously Mr. Chaudhury and ur ur friend Krazywordsmith admire), but we decry a masterpiece like slumdog..yeah amitab bachhan was indeed correct...its not all about slums and dogs in india...if he actually steps out of his 5 star apartment, he might find it to be much worse...and another point to be made...films aren't made to show all rosy and cheery themes, but to bring out to light the dimmer shades and sd millionaire scores heavily in that aspect!!...

(¯`•._.•[Raaji]•._.•´¯) said...

good critic. It is very popular here... I like the fact that it is oddly controversial. makes it all the more interesting :-)

Kalyn Cavalier said...

Thank you for your comment! Your blog is very interesting.. especially liked your nostalgic entry. :)

I'll keep reading! Hope you do the same.

Vandita said...

I loved the movie!

Shravan said...

thats a studied one.. and i too did like the movie as a whole, it has everything to make the audi sit and watch. :)

cRap bloGger said...

Even i wondered if it had received the same recognition if any indian director would have been involved.

But beyond that...i fail to understand why bollywood is finding the success so hard to digest. Is it because that the movie involves actors who wouldn't have got a break in mainsteam indian cinema until and unless they were star kids! The questions till remains a mystery to me. As stated by you..the same side of mumbai has already been shown a zillion times by indian film makers..then why have different views on SM.

But then, only if we could understand bollywood :).....

cheers for Oscar wins..may it bring many more laurels!

Tapas said...

I totally agree with you and give a damn to those who think Slumdog isn't worth watching ! They just can't swallow the fact that a British director shot a movie in India using our "Human Resources" and has won an Academy award, in fact many awards.

Raksha said...

Dear Blogger

This is Raksha Bharadia author of:-
1. 'Me' – A Handbook for Life (Rupa & Co)
2.'Roots and Wings' - A Handbook for Parents (Rupa & Co).
3. Chicken soup for the India Soul (Westland).

Interested in writing for Chicken soup for the Indian Roamntic soul? It is under the same Jack Canfield Mark Victor banner. If yes, pls email me on and i will forward the brief to you.