Sunday, March 15, 2009

Millionaire Saga

You either love it or hate it. That’s the verdict for Slumdog Millionaire. There are no in-betweeners. The fans of the film vouch it’s a brilliant piece, but those who dislike it, claim it’s nothing but a western perception of India.
I, consider myself in the minority. I stand in the in-betweeners slot. It’s not because it's a safe place to be in, but because I don’t think the film deserved the ‘best film’ at the Oscars but it did deserve all its other awards. I wouldn’t call it a brilliant film because it's got its flaws, but I am impressed with sleek narrative.
In my defence, for all those who picked up arms against Danny Boyle for picturing India in its true elements have only one major grouch… that it took an outsider to tell our story. Not once did the Bollywood fraternity warm up to these slum kids, forget tell their story. But here was a white man, who walked in and picked a heartrending story of a small boy and his struggles. The crux of the film is not about poverty, it’s about hope. But we, Indians, suffer from a prosecution complex. We believe the entire world is out to get us. But we've no qualms about aping the West - its style, lifestyle, food and fashion. We draw a line, or claim to be extremely sensitive when the West looks into the lives of the poor as well. We’d rather sweep the poor under the carpet than have the world watch their story. Slumdog Millionaire tells a story about real kids, who we bump into on a daily basis, but who we don’t want to associate with. This is not the real India, some argue. Then what is?
Are Bollywood films an indication of our true Indian culture? For the bigwigs like Big B and Aamir Khan isn’t this a clear indication of the ‘sour-grape’ syndrome? For had their film won an Oscar they would have wanted the media to write stories of glory.
Have any of these Bollywood filmmakers ever told a story about poverty? Realism, my friend, stares at you every time you land in Mumbai. Either side of the road is cramped with huts, some even eating into the public road. Have these actors turned a blind eye? Or do they believe that these poor souls don’t have a right to find themselves into the lives of the West.
This film is not a star-studded affair, as is the case in all Bollywood flicks. And that's exactly what worked in Slumdog’s favour. The children made the film. Unknown, innocent faces came forward to tell a story. Children of the slums, who never dared to dream, walked the red carpet with Hollywood glitterati for the Oscars. We, as Indians, should actually be ashamed that it took a white man to tell the real stories about these kids.
Wake up Bollywood! You need more than sleeky costumes, six-packs, lavish sets, and made-up actors to tell a real story. And unlike in the fairytale land of Bollywood, no one breaks into a song and dance sequence at the drop of a hat. So next time your argument borders on realism. I’d like them to take a look at Indian cinema and point out which film actually portrays our true essence. It’s not the jhatkas and matkas, not the item numbers and choli acts, not revenge and baddies, not love or the lack of it, it’s something much more meaningful, a journey of fun, laughter and hope. And until they learn this lesson, they'll continue to hold ill-will against anyone who dares to tell real stories about the real people.


Blogger Gore VidAli said...


I just happened onto your blog while trying to decide if 'tantrumic' was a real word i could use to describe my sister... clearly you've provded all the validation i need. I just returned from 2 months in India and found your reaction to Slumdog interesting enough that i wanted ot know what else you think about things a.k.a i wanted to subscribe. But then i saw your previous post was in 2006. Should i even bother?

5:20 AM  

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