Saturday, February 21, 2009

Of the ideas of the west by the west for the west

That's what I want to say about "Slumdog Millionaire". Well even Satyajeet Ray has showed the poverty and backwardness of India but through characters not through caricature what we see in SM, all exaggerated images of our slums, riots, underworld, child labor, begging etc. You can't find a single positive in it for India. Had this film made by an Indian director, it would've been trashed immediately. These all things made for a viewing pleasure of a First world audience. I'm not against making a 'Chaalu Bollywood Movie' and earning money but I'm against the hype and awards it is getting.

Of course, it is a matter of pride for every Indian that Rahman has secured three Oscar nominations, but is his music in SM his best performance? Has he not scored musics a hundred times better in Indian movies? Why did he not get an Oscar nomination for them? Because they were original Bollywood movies? And why co-director Loveleen Tandon who is an Indian has not been co-nominated for the Oscars?

All I can say that this movie shows India from west's point of view or from the angle through which they want to see India. Same as we all Indians see USA as 'Land of dreams'. so we choose to watch only those films from Hollywood which show crashing cars, superheros, sizzling technologies & much of nudity. We never love to see homeless blacks or millions spending their day & night in a single car or cheep African labors in US or UK. Similarly the audience of west would love to see films about India which shows slums, riots, Mafia gangs, poverty and backwardness which conform to their image of third world.

I feel it fails to present a balanced account of the life of a slum dweller in India. Dharavi's long history of immigration has created a creative and productive crucible for producing the best and worst in human nature. It fails to recognise the communal harmony among 800000 people of Asia's biggest slum.

I'm angry with some of its dialogues, scenes and mistakes which specially heart the image of India. For instance when the tour car was looted and the boy was severely beaten up by the owner the boy says "Sir, It's real India". Then the man comes to help him and says"you have seen real Indians now you see the real American" and gives him some money; as if all the Indians are thieves and all the Americans are the greatest donors or helpers. They have changed the name of the lead character from Ram Mohammad Thomas (in Vikas Swarup's Q&A) to Jamal Malik to simply showcase the Hindu Muslim riots. Never anyone tries to loot the 'Chapati' in running train as shown in the movie let alone the childes. And to suit the script they changed the name of writer of "Darshan do Ghanshyam" from Narsi Bhagat to Surdas.

If a director knows this little about India then what can be expected from him? Amitabh Bachchan was hundred and one percent correct when he said "it's not a great movie, Bollywood have made many movies better than this."