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Thoughts on Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionare. Ah!

Talk of tinsel town, Mumbai’s dirty underbelly, Winner of 4 Golden Globes, Oscar potential, Danny Boyle, Amitabh Bachchan. What else? Yes, dirty shit, ugly trash, child prostitution, bogus orphanages, black money, anti-Muslim riots, organized crime, underworld, mafia, real India and a racist, abusive Kaun Banega Crorepati host to top it all! Mr. Boyle should have just blown the kid up in a terrorist strike to keep up to the film’s compulsive and streamlined portrayal of what India is and isn’t. It would have made for some climax.

My God, can any ordinary human being survive in India with this kind of exploitative, abusive, terrifying atrocities committed on its people day in and day out? Yuck, my respect for India is down in the dust and I have decided that I will pester any one willing to be pestered, to get me out of this hell. Starting with the passport office, of course. And then the embassy. And then finally off to a new country.

No. Wait. I’m right here. Sure there are problems but I seem to see a lot of people smiling around me, living a happy life with a blossoming family, enjoying with friends, working for a decent wager in the Third World. Sure I’m not a “slumdog” but even slum children will not be facing up to the over-hyped, over-the-top atrocities depicted in SM that only ONE single child faces. Escapist? No. Realistic? No. Realistic escapism? Hell yes.

Whenever a reality check is undertaken, then it is very wise to not lose track of the core concept of such a check - reality itself. Because depiction of in-your-face hard-nosed reality is one thing and blowing reality out of proportion to portray all the “evils” of India at one go is another. And Slumdog Millionaire has conveniently opted for the latter at the expense of the former and hence feeding on India’s magnified sorrows has given the movie Oh-my-God applause that it doesn’t really deserve.

Thank you Mr. Boyle. Next time, we expect better. Or at least a package that is nigh closer to reality than perennially escapist Bollywood. And Slumdog Millionaire.







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16 comments:

  dxtr

Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 8:17:00 AM PST

Slumdog Millionaire is a brilliant movie. I say it almost a week ago and I loved it.

  hitch writer

Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 10:32:00 PM PST

I just feel too much fuss about a film.

Too much fuss about a foreign award.

Phew... !! I almost feel compelled now to not watch it !

  Oxy

Monday, January 19, 2009 at 5:35:00 AM PST

I disagree. The movie might not be avant garde but it definitely is not what u made it out to be.. It's not far from reality. Brutality and Badness is shown but if a film-maker decides to make a movie based on that then whats wrong in that? If any other film-maker makes a movie just on the highs of any country or any matter then even thats perfectly fine.. What Boyle showed exist and a film should be treated as a film.

  Chirag

Monday, January 19, 2009 at 5:38:00 AM PST

Dude a little diversion here. Now look at the movies just for the Art sake and forget that you are an Indian. We can't take any movie seriuosly can we? If we could do you think after Fahrenheit 9 11 Bush would have been chosen again?

SDM is just a good story and director have just made it as believable as possible. Now is it true? We know the answer partially yes. But again at the end of day its just a story, I would have told a different story you would have told a different one, right?

  Trailblazer

Monday, January 19, 2009 at 6:06:00 AM PST


@Oxy, Chirag
With due respect to your opinion, I was making objective points about the movie and not deriding what it shows.

All the events it has shown are very realistic and even take place in India, but the manner in which even reality was hyped up is what makes SM a very ordinary movie that showcased evil.

I feel it was as far from reality as Bollywood is, because it is impossible that a single minority child's life can be ravaged by ill after ill after ill. And then, the movie makes an attempt to throw back at India that its slumdogs can be millionaires. True, but unrealistic.

And realism is what the film has been praised for. Objective analysis is what I tried to do. And this is what I came up with.

If the movie was passed off as a hard-hitter, I wouldn't bother. But to win go and win 4 golden globes out of such sheer propaganda of India -> not impressive.

  Oxy

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 2:43:00 AM PST

Hey that's fine. You expressed your views and I responded to that. :)

Now coming to your point that "but the manner in which even reality was hyped up is what makes SM a very ordinary movie that showcased evil." I would say that the hype has nothing to do with the movie. It is created by the media and the makers are just promoting it like any other maker/actors does for his/her film and if in due course it creates the hype that doesn't mean you demean the content of the movie.

You say it was far from reality as Bollywood is.. Well, there are two points here. This is not a Bollywood movie at all. It has Bolly actors but it's out and out British movie. And they have their own way of showcasing the story. Second point is as I know Bollywood has some makers like K-Jo who promotes infidelity, RGV who has Gangster theme in most of the films which shows the way to enter the crime world. Is that reality? It could be rather would be but if they are expressing their Ideas on celluloid and if audience is enjoying it why complains?

The movie won awards because people embraced it and loved it. Critics found it hard-hitting. If it was made in the slums of some African/Latin countries it would have been equally good, there is nothing I feel is the exploitation of India and no propaganda whatsoever.

  Trailblazer

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 3:48:00 AM PST


@Oxy
See, here is where I believe my point has been missed. Trust me, I did not keep the media in mind when I wrote my opinion. I just plainly watched the movie out and then came up with what I felt was unrealistic of SM.

I meant that Reality was hyped up IN the movie itself. What is hype? Portrayal/depiction/talk about events at a higher altitude than what they are in real. And that is what I meant by hype in the movie and not hype of the movie. Your views now on this :-)

Secondly, I was not comparing it with Bollywood. People have criticized Bollywood as being too escapist. Fair. But how escapist is SM itself? In context, it is unfathomable that this movie can be even close to a true story of any "slumdog" in India.

Regarding it's winning awards, I have no problems. When I used the word propaganda
, I plainly meant the fictionality of the movie has been blown out of proportion AND portrayed as reality.

  Oxy

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:58:00 AM PST

"Portrayal/depiction/talk about events at a higher altitude than what they are in real."

Well, so that's ur grudge with the movie.. now I can agree that yes few scenes could have been outrageous but I wont say they were hyped... When u make a movie, it is ur product and u can give it any shape which u want to give and leave to public to embrace it or chuck it.. I embraced it and u chucked it.. after all not everyone goes for colgate.. some like close-up too..

  Oxy

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 2:14:00 AM PST

Btw, I have written a full-fledged, detailed review on it.

  Mithe

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 5:02:00 AM PST

Nobody hyping a movie can bring audiences to the halls-it is afterall my decision to go and watch a movie-I can choose to reject it!
I disagree with you here trailblazer....
India is riddled with poverty and if somebody is presenting some negetive aspects about our country then we must accept them as stepping stones towards improvement.Our path becomes more clear no?

Anyways-on a cheerful note, you are awarded yet again-visit my blog!:)

  amreekandesi

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 7:40:00 PM PST

I agree that the movie showed a lot of the nastier aspects of life in India, but there is no doubt that it is all true. People do get killed in the name of religion, beggary is an organized crime, a lot of the Indians live in nasty conditions, the rich are very rich, and the poor are very poor.

We feel offended when westerners portray India as a poor nation, but it is a fact. Just because it won critical acclaim doesn't mean that the west is deriding India and feeling happy about the misery.

I would say that above all, the movie shows the triumph of the human spirit in the face of immense hardship.

That is India, for a lot of people.

  Trailblazer

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 11:24:00 PM PST


@Oxy
I'm glad you agree. That was my point. Reality is also after all reality. Unreal or pseudo-reality is as much on the wrong side as escapist cinema.

Of course the fact that it's your movie means you can do whatever you want with it. Undoubtedly. In the end, the opinion of one man can influence but not necessarily change people.

  Trailblazer

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 11:26:00 PM PST


@Mithe
I agree with your point about movies. Refer above comment.

Regarding depiction of poverty -> there's a difference between saying that a man has Rs.10 for his day's work when he ACTUALLY has Rs.10 and saying that the man has nothing when he does at least have Rs.10.

Overblown reality doesn't work much either.

Thanks for the awards.

  Trailblazer

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 11:27:00 PM PST


@AmreekanDesi
Please refer to the above two comments. I think your points would be made clear there. :-)

  Smitha

Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 5:27:00 AM PST

@Trailblazer - Have something for you in my blog - Please do pick it up - http://smitha-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/01/goodbyeawards-and-no-criminals-campaign.html

  Kislay

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 1:59:00 AM PST

I had not seen the movie so I refrained from commenting . Now that I have , WTH is the big deal over this movie ? It IS escapist . I won't go as far as to say that the movie is anti-Indian or anti-Hindu , as some of the other articles I have read have suggested . But seriously , is it that great ? And the one thing I simply could not digest was the kid dressed up as Shree Ram , smack in the middle of riots . How on earth can that happen ? Danny Boyle just had to fit it somehow , and he chose the riot scene for that . He could have shown a Ram Leela , but a riot is cooler , as it fits into the negative stereotype . And I was severely disappointed by the way the song "Jai Ho" was used . At the end , and with a dance . WTH again .