That India, specifically Mumbai has been portrayed belly up, replete with gamines bathed in poo, eyes gorged out by devilish beggar mafia, frenetic religion dominated outbreaks and filth, shot through hidden cameras, as revealed by Danny Boyle himself, is but a miniscule detail. Dont be silly ..stop fretting! We ought to kick our feet, jump sky high in utter glee now that India has been finally acknowledged by the divine Oscars as a country that is deserved of existing on the cinematic global map…
Residents of a nearby slum demonstrate outside the office of Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, one of the main casts of the movie �Slumdog Millionaire,� demanding that the name of the film be changed, in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009. Two dozen slum kids carried banners of protest Thursday, saying they were not slum dogs and demanded a change in the name of the award-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire.” (AP Photo)
Srk and sex sell in India..true. RNBDJ a glaring example of the formers star value , the latter pervades every avenue of marketing. What is the sine qua non for global success..Indias poverty. Ask Mira Nair (nothing personal…she is one of the most talented Directors of Indian origin..read review of Namesake) Now Slumdog millionaire. Oh I know the snort that greets such averments by the liberal brigade who are stridently invading every media channel proclaiming, democracy, freedom of expression, truth-portrayed and all of that. I snort back in answer.
Grow up. Are you trying to tell me that Danny Boyles choice of book by a scarcely known Vikas Swarup had origins in complete trance like hypnosis of the stupendous story hidden in Q&A? You must be naive and wholly oblivious to the ways of the world..read success at any cost! If that were so the screenplay writer Simon Beaufoy would have gone along with the story therein and the Q&A. But there were changes galore….inclusions, exclusions, depictions..all of which were creative additions underlined the scenario meant to serve as delectable fare for the gourmands..namely the jury of Oscars and western audiences.
What gets my goat is the intent. It comes across as a ploy, ruse, gimmick to win gullible audiences. Had I been convinced that Boyles initiative was merely an artistic outing, a cinematic expression which was aesthetically motivated, perhaps the outrage would have boiled down to a simmer. I would totally surrender.But that was not to be.
A major change by the maker which, if anything exemplifies my angst a hundred fold. The central character assayed by Dev Patel is called Jamal Malik in the movie while the book named him a secular Ram Mohamed Thomas!!! The intention behind naming this character depicted as a ‘slumdog’ in its widest connotation ..is simply mischievous if not malicious.
And what about the title. Swarup named it an innocuous ” Q&A”. Why was it changed to the humiliating appellation ‘Slumdog’ Millionaire?
It may also interest you to know that there is NO word such as ‘slumdog’ in any dictionary of the world. It has been used , thanks to the ingenuity of the Oscar nominated screenplay writer Beaufoy. Talented huh? To summon up pejorative terms of the caliber is no mean task I presume. Deserved of Oscars!
And ponder on the audacity…to call the inhabitants of your host country a ‘dog’ reeks of insensitivity coupled with extreme puffery. One can almost picture Boyle thinking ” Oh Indians ..they ought to feel indebted that I, The Danny Boyle am making a film in India with Indian actors. They wont as much as come up with a whimper..no matter how they are addressed”
Dont you see it? Isnt it transparent.. the callous uncaring attitude towards the sentiments of Indians? Would any of our makers ever dare to make films in another country..even if it concerned the poorest in the world..Sudan.. with nomenclature of ‘dogs’ screaming in the title?
And please dont hide behind the crap of statements like ” a tale of triumph of the human spirit’…it was nowhere evident. In fact the last line of the film spelt it out with “It was written”…
Besides..How many of you recall the 90’s or so when every pageant was won by an Indian beauty, Years that brought on Ash, Sushmita, Diana, Dia onto the world beauty stage ?Connect that with the promise of a resurgent Indian economy and the crystal ball gives its answer.
Recession does strange things to people and to those who power countries. India is once again materialising as the gateway to economic progress..Oscars the first indication of the thought process in motion. Read again if the message is ambiguous.
It makes me squirm..it does… to see my country screened unilaterally. I was repulsed personally. Some react with ” so do something about it”.. Yeah..How? Why? Its supposed to make the governance go pale in the face not the citizens. WE as Indians and those who value dignity ought to react with repugnance. Bravo dear Amitabh Bachchan.
The point is that this is once too many. If this were to be a one off, a first time that Indias poverty was the focal point of a Westerners or for that matter an ambitious Indians lens, the reaction mightnt have been so strong. But each time that Indias story is told, its either the extinct Maharajahs and their palaces or the slums that take center stage. Enough is enough. If the intention behind is to exploit Indias misery to make your bucks, I have the right to strongly object to this mentality.
We ought to read the script of those who wish to films in India? Deepa Mehta was sent home to Canada when she wanted to make ‘ Water”..why are we starry eyed when it comes to foreigners making films on our shores?
Would this film have been nominated in a single category had it been made by an Indian…even if it were a frame to frame replica of the present ? NO way!!! You see we are the slumdogs in the eyes of the world. It is when a Danny Boyle validates our existence when he trains is brilliant camera on us that it becomes worthy of acceptance. Nothing gives them ecstatic orgasms than to view the underdog from a country which boasts of spiritual wisdom. It makes them elated in a space they won…that of materialism. they cannot win over us in their non existent philosophy.
Do you think Shekhar kapoors Elizabeth was any less a masterpiece ( in fact more)? If you are a student of cinema youd dare say NO. But he was ignored. Because you see, Indians are best acknowledged in their torn attire, dishevelled with pangs of hunger, grisly with the madness of deprivation. Stand up to their area of expertise, show them that you know your craft and they make you scamper back home.
Sudhir Mishra in an interview to a TV channel revealed recently that whilst he was shooting for ‘Dharavi” a foreign crew wished to film him filming. He was asked to enter a hut and the camera followed him. Suddenly the Director sounded ‘ Cut’ since he saw a television’ through his lens. A slum dweller wasnt supposed to own a TV ! What blasphemy! And there are those who swear by reality and truth? Truth is what suits you and not plainly what it is, a fragmented piece of story, hurriedly written , non seriously is not TRUTH.
This is not a review of Slumdog Millionaire. Some other time maybe since presently my senses are too numbed by the open defiance by Indians on what is supposed to be an affront to their sense of dignity, self respect and innate patriotism. I have the right to critique India. I pay taxes, live here and brave challenges. But if foreigners think they can in the guise of love and cinematic expression rape my millions..they ought to be strongly chided.
Have you read Vikas swarups interview.. Do. He wrote this story for a lark since he happened to be twiddling his thumbs while his wife was away to India…the land of the slums.. and he was alone in his presumably teak and mahogany study giving wings to his power of imagination and study of ‘what sells’.. he responded with ” Come on its not for real..its only a film”>
Sure. Except that Indians are caught with feet and hand bound, at the mercy of corrupt ministers, stacking away zillions in their Swiss banks while we dumbly, wide eyed sit back and squirm at the depiction of the poor. So, Do something about it..Danny Boyle. use your clout to shake up the administration now that you have endlessly expressed your ‘love’ for India! Please show it to us differently than shaming us nude!