Thursday, January 29, 2009

Slumdog and the controversies! - My take

~~Incomplete and Unedited as of now~~
~~Would be updated very soon~~

Slumdog Millionaire has already bagged so many awards internationally and has been acclaimed in every corner of the world but like any other success this one also comes with its share of controversies!

1. Use of the word Slumdog
The controversy came up due to the use of word 'Slumdog' and is pretty much justified. Why should a demeaning word like Slumdog be used to refer to people from a particular strata of society, even if they belong to the poor class living in slums (that doesn't make them dogs!). A translation in Hindi would be like "Gali ka kutta" and you dont say that to anyone you meet from lower strata of society. This is not at all acceptable in India and I believe most (if not all) foreign cultures won't bear any such derogatory remarks. Just because someone is unfortunate to live in those conditions, doesn't mean you call him names. 
As far as the description of life of a slum-dweller is concerned, I think the movie tries to project it in true light but the word "Slumdog" is uncalled for.

2. India shining or India whining
The biggest controversy of all. Does the movie reflect a true image of India? Definitely not but is the movie even attempting to do that? - Well I don't know. Yesterday itself I heard some of the sharpest minds in the country debating over the issue and discussing if this should agitate us or not! As in any controversy, the opinion was divided. Some commented, "India is my family and if anyone projects it in poor light, I cannot bear that" while others contested if the movie is even supposed to project a picture of the country at all. "All it projects is the life of a slum-dweller in India. It has nothing to do with the country image as such" I think both the groups had some valid points. The movie is not supposed to proejct the image of the country and neither does it try to do that but on the other hand, the big assumption of people in the world being rational is not true as well. You project slums of Brazil in City of God and people believe that is all Brazil is. Similar being the case with movies like Hotel Rwanda and Blood Diamond. 

3. Not the best Indian movie
Going to Oscar, does it mean it is the best Indian movie ever? Personally I dont see a connection but for many this is not the case. There have been hues and cries over this issue (Same comments were heard a few years back when Lagaan was nominated under foreign film category in Oscars). The arguments they propose goes like- no movie ever has gone to Oscars (with counted exceptions), not many have won any big academy prizes, none has been acclaimed so much by International audience, which this movie has got! My question to these people would be - So what exactly do you want? since none of the movies (including good ones) have received much appreciation internationally, should we just stop making movies or should we put a ban on them to appreciate any decent or good Indian movie?!! 
People must not forget two things about movies and nominations - 1) Movie watching is a personal experience. Others might not like a movie the same way as you like it.  And 2) Movies compete with contemporary movies (across countries but from the same year) to make it to the nomination list and not across years! 
Times change - Things change - Movie viewing experience changes - Movie topics change - Audience choice changes!
So it would be unfair to compare lets say Sholay or DDLJ or Deewar with Slumdog millionaire.

And by the way, why is all that jazz about comparing it with older Indian movies? SM is not an Indian movie at all. It is a movie on India (and with Indian actors) by British for Americans. 

4. Not the best of Rehman's work
The first reaction I heard to Rehman winning academy award was not a "wow!" but a "why?". The very first comment was - "why give him award for the work which is not so brilliant as his previous masterpieces were? Why didnt he get anything for RDB or Saathiya?" Again the same arguments as above apply. 
Apart from the above arguments, one more thing people should focus on here (in case of music) is that appreciating music is very different from appreciating movies. People might take long enough time to appreciate a different genre of music. For an instance, my father doesnt like Rehman music at all and I hate the "ooooonnnnnn" of Reshamiya more than anything in the world! Indian music genre is very different from popular European and American genres and hence, Indians not getting much appreciation for music there is pretty much understandable. How many of you like or have even heard any Japanese song?

5. Had it been the same if an Indian director made this movie?
Well frankly, a fair enough question and I don't think an Indian director would have been able to create such a big hype around the movie. Some of the other Indian movies which have made it to big awards could at best attract a niche audience segment. Meera Nair connected well with foreign audience while Hrishikesh Mukherjee had a huge fan following in India but none of them could match the SM hype. (Please note that I am not comparing HM's or MN's movies with SM, I am just commenting about the global buzz around the movie). This buzz, however, can be justified by the fact that the movie has an international angle to it - as already said, movie on India by British for American and also the fact that he projected only what the international audience wants to see in a movie on a developing country!

6. Role of Marketing in today's cine-world


7. What is Oscars all about?
and many more..

~to be updated very soon

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