Friday, January 30, 2009

Slum dog Millionaire- Justified?

Slum dog Millionaire’- a name familiar to everyone. Great direction, interesting script (with some filmy touch here and there!), A R Rehman music, almost perfect acting with biggies like Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan- the movie was made to be a hit. But do we really like the movie or are we just following the trend started by the West? Some are seeing the movie as an insult on India’s dignity. While according to some, it is the only representation of Indian’s capability in the creative fields. I would like to differ with both the views.
For me, a movie cannot be so powerful to distort the existing image of a country to an extent where people don’t remember anything other than what is being told in the movie (I am not demeaning media and its power!). A person cannot reject every-other information about a country and base its perception according to a single movie. And if in any case, he/she is doing so, they are not worth consideration! Movies are meant to represent a part of our life; they must act as a mirror to society. But we can’t expect a single movie to present everything about a country. In case of India, which is full of varied cultures, traditions and lifestyle, it becomes even more difficult to give a justified attention to all the aspects of its people’s life.
Coming back to Slum dog millionaire, it provides some memorable treat for our senses as well as for our intellect. One of my favorite scene is where little Jamal calls Latika to come and share the roof with them after a day full of riots and blood. With minimum dialogue where they introduce each other and go to sleep is the unsurpassed example of delicacy of human emotions. The sensitivity of a child who has just lost his mother in a riot and the maturity he gains immediately after the incident is faultlessly and subtly depicted.
So am I saying everything in the movie is justified? The answer is a big No. In-spite of all the required skills of a high-quality movie, it has some loopholes. In some of the scenes, movie reflects the opinionated nature of Western world. A particular scene, where young Jamal is beaten up by the taxi driver of the foreign tourist couple for whom Jamal acts as a tourist guide says more than what we perceive at the face value. The dialogue where Jamal refers to the beating-up as the representation of ‘real India’ and then quickly the tourist couple gives him some money saying that is their ‘real America’ shows the gesture of western world towards us. Their looking down upon us is clearly evident in the scene. To me ‘real India’s’ punishing of a child for his and his friends stealing of all the valuable parts of the car is not wrong. However, beating of the child is absolutely brutal and can not be supported at all. Some part of the movie is like any other fictional piece of art. The protagonist, Jamal’s (must be in his teens) travelling almost the entire India to find his childhood love Latika, can happen only in movies and is far from reality.
We can’t keep this movie above all the regional language and bollywood movies. There are masterworks representing both the good and the bad about us, which can not be sidelined under the glitter of this movie and its Oscar nominations.


  1. Cool take.:) However, you really shoot a greater discussion off here. When saying that a movie is meant only as a slice of entertainment (again Ardra's latest posts rings here), how would you explain the magnanimity, the huge presence of cinema in our day-today-lives? So much that here in South, the film stars are as big as gods?

    On the other hand, the point about the undue appreciation being given to Slumdog, is something I really agree with. If it were made by an Indian, the Slum-Dog would have become a We the People debate and posters would have been torn down etc. Plus, it can never really count as an Indian movie. I think the hype really started after the Golden Globe fiasco.

    Hey, in case you are interested, you should also read up on the ongoing issues of the Booker Prize and Indians winning them. again a deeper level debate about how people are not really representing the Indianess properly and yet are being given undue adulation because of the "foreign award" tag. :p

  2. ya i agree we Indians give more than required attention to film stars. Thats the reason movie should be made more reasonably and with proper background work.

    The representation itself shows lack of research work.

    And sure I will read on issue you mentioned..