Saturday, January 17, 2009

My take on the Slumdog phenomenon

First things first. This is not my review of Slumdog. This has been an opinion I have been wanting to write for a very long time. I saw Slumdog Millionaire a while back, and I must say it is a brilliant movie. When it won a slew of Golden Globes, I was highly impressed, as were a whole bunch of people. I felt the music, the screenplay, why the movie itself was brilliant, and the kudos it received, was amazing.

One of my friends pointed out a blog by an Indian, who had slammed the movie and called it a typical western movie. My friend guessed that I might agree with what that blogger had to say. And my take is this. On an absolute scale, this movie is brilliant. The way it has been taken, of every question's correct answer being related in some way or the other to Jamal's life is cinematographic excellence. The 'Rama's weapon' question, is blunt. The hard hit behind the knowledge of the correct answer takes your breath away. At some places the string binding the boy's life to the question's answer goes slack. Like the 'Cambridge Circus' question. However, as a concept, I must say that the movie is gripping and decidedly well taken.

Now the things I didn't like. India is really not a shitty place. And no one is such a huge fan of a filmstar to want to jump into his own poo, just to see the star and get an autograph. The extreme portrayal of filth and dirt in Mumbai, does not do justice to Maximum city. Second, the love story was insipid. According to me, the two looked more like thick friends than anything else. Never once was a look of love visible in either of the two protagonists.

That said, I have mainly two comments. One, if Indians feel that this is a gross affront to Indianness, I'd say, personally I think, NO. Begging cartels are a reality, and it takes a hard hitting reality check to actually get the wheels of action moving. And the bias of the 'pseudo-affluent' towards the humble chaiwallahs, is an undercurrent, not just in India, but the world over. Marie Antoinette is a phenomenon everywhere. But the one thing that really irks me is the fact that almost everyone wants to dwell upon the dirty, awful part of India, which according to me, and I must agree with the Slumdog slammers here, is a little over the top. I feel, and this has been my take for a very long time now, that between every 10 'India dirty' movies and books, let us have at least one book or movie that can portray the India as we see it - vibrant, lively, brimming with hope and progress as well. Face it. I live in India, and I see not just slums and filth, but a lot more - Democracy, safety on streets, festivity, cultural vibrancy and so much more. And I feel that once the media, and the ones that fete art begin to like and applaud Hopeful, Happy India with the same zeal that meets Dirty India, me and also a whole bunch of those who felt that Slumdog was crappy because it was anti Indian, will feel that India is being given her rightful due.


Varun said...

Very well written Sindhu!!

Ritu said...

"the Hopeful, Happy India" - so well said!

Nitin said...

nice nice!!! Concur with almost everything except "safety on the street". I know thats not even remotely the main subject of the blog, but it kinda stuck its head out anyway... :P
But again coming back to the main theme of the blog, I too like the line "hopeful happy India"!!!

Abhay (Cyclops) said...

Always like your posts Sindhu

Best Wishes

Vinit Garg said...

Nice write up but this post and some other reads also prompted me to write my take :) !! Although I disagree with some of your points, I must say I enjoy reading your posts and envy your persistence in writing :) !!

Anonymous said...

well I don't agree with all that you say.. but yeaa one thing most of the ppl didn't perceive is the fact that its a country which does teach you street smartness, something which most of the ppl don't get growing up outside.. I can so be greatful to the couple of years I spent there which had given me a certain edge over a lot of others around me.. things portrayed in the movie is a large part of the reality of our country.. nothing wrong with it - Sush