Monday, January 26, 2009

Arindham Choudhary on Slumdog Millionaire


A phony poseur that has been made only to mock India for the viewing pleasure of the First World!!
The emperor's new clothes! That's "Slumdog Millionaire" for you… Five minutes into this celebrated patchwork of illogical clichés and you are struck by the jarring dialogues. The cumbersome delivery in a language which doesn't come naturally to most of the actors sounds like someone scratching on walls with one's finger nails; it ruins the possibility of a connection… Had this film been made by an Indian director, it would've been trashed as a rotting old hat, which literally stands out only because of its stench, but since the man making it happens to be from the West, we're all left celebrating the emperor's new clothes. The film borrows an undoubtedly interesting narrative style – from films like "City of God" – but then uses it to weave in a collection of clichés from the Third World's underbelly for the viewing pleasure of a First World audience. The real slumdog in the movie is not the main protagonist but India as a whole… The makers and those celebrating this movie's hard-to-spot brilliance are actually serving up India as the accidental millionaire, which in fact happens to be a slumdog… and like shameless fools we are gloating over its success without realising that it makes a caricature out of India.
The film does not have the sincerity and honesty of a "Salaam Bombay" or a "City of Joy" and nor does this slime covered fairy tale have the integrity or the rootedness of the above mentioned scripts, or even a "Shantaram" for that matter; the soundtrack and the performance of the child actors are the only bits in the film which live up to the hype. The real slumdogs who've hit the jackpot after wallowing in acres of human waste are the makers of this film who are now raking in millions while those court jesters who've critiqued the film and showered tributes and awards need to ask themselves why, scores of years after our independence, they still feel the need to suck up to the gora sahibs. It's not a question of xenophobia… it's definitely a well cinematographed film… but the film has no soul, especially after little Jamal has jumped off the train and become a teenager… The rest of the film is just a modern version of the West's view of India where slums, slumdogs and Bollywoodian clichés have replaced the elephants and snake charmers. It's a well made caricature of a country and a caricature can never be a Mona Lisa, for a masterpiece can't be one dimensional juxtaposition of sadistic extremes… and that's my grouse with the celebrations…
And I say all this not because I don't know what is India. I know its poverty and the real statistics around it a little better than most others – especially the Indian film critics who have given "Slumdog…" an average of 4 to 4.5 stars! But the fact is that the film's entire narration seems like the germination of a terribly sadistic and complex mind with the sole aim of satisfying the western idea of India – and its new found growth instincts at their cost - and it is done through a combination of illogical happenings in order to show everything in a disgustingly negative vein. Not that it doesn't exist, but it surely doesn't exist in this fictitious manner. While "Salaam Bombay" had realism, "Slumdog…" is just every scrap of dirt picked up from every corner and piled up together to try and hit back at the growing might of India. And the awards almost seem like a sadistic effort to show the world – look we knew that this was India, and these are the slumdogs we are outsourcing our jobs to. It stinks of racial arrogance and it's such a shame now on second thought to see the Indian faces – including that of the undoubted master, AR Rahman - celebrating its success. There is nothing positive about the film and it seems that a deranged sadist has painted his insecure negative self in each and every character of the movie. It illogically shows every negative thing about India happening in the protagonist's life... slums, open-air lavatories, riots, underworld, prostitution, brothels, child labour, begging, blinding and maiming of kids to make them into 'better beggars', petty peddlers, traffic jams, irresponsible call centre executives… everything apart from western pedophiles roaming around in Indian streets!! And its winning of so many awards and nominations only goes on to prove strongly that the paradigm of cinema and recognition of films are in the hands of a few retarded imperialistic minds. It's a crying shame that our media hasn't seen through this ruse and is touting "Slumdog's" nominations to claim that India is shining at the Oscars, while in fact it is lauding a film that mocks and ridicules the idea of 'India', pigeonholing its identity into the straitjacket of depraved poverty for a global audience.
When the West wanted Indians to embrace them and their companies to come to India and capture the lucrative markets, suddenly we had all the Indian women, some very beautiful and some not necessarily so, winning all the Miss Universe and Miss Worlds. Today, they are in a crisis and India is looking unstoppable despite its slums and poverty, and they are losing their businesses to us. Isn't it the best time to paint India as the Slumdog Millionaire?? All in all, the film is nothing but an endorsement of an erstwhile imperial mindset of the West and its blinkered vision of India. An English master has made an Indian slumdog. Don't even waste your time watching this film in the theatres. It sucks and there is nothing great in it as a film too. Amitabh Bachchan was spot on when he said that Bollywood has made far better mainstream films. Take out a DVD of one of his old films instead…

7 comments:

  1. This is so true.This movie is going to put a bad impact of India's image on the rest of the world.And the world is just enjoying the misery of India and Indians shown in this movie.

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  2. i think by portraying this idea in the movie, it has v. wel proved tat the indian culture is growing and has started accepting the phenomenon of artistic freedom while making of a movie..
    earlier movies like water etc. had to face a lot of hardships b'4 they could be released just b'coz of it portraying the social stigmas of the community..
    may b dis proves to be a way to arouse our lazy politicians regrdng the social stigmas which are stil prevailing in the country..

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  3. Well i believe I am not as intellectual as Mr Arindham Chaudhari...

    I watch a movie for entertainment and i believe there are sections of this story that are 'FACTS' that we so love to deny...

    Am proud an Indian movie is bagging the awards..

    And yep it did not bore the $@#$ our of me like 'Rok Sako To Rok Lo'...

    Be happy and stop criticizing...the facts...just because you dont like it.

    To each his own...Adios.

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  4. Mr.Chaudhari is one of those individuals in India who need publicity, good or bad, to be noticed. Sadly, his shithole of an management institute isn't doing too well, so maybe he needs to be in the limelight once more. He's right, Slumdog Millionaire portrays India in a bad light. So which movie was it that portrayed India and its cinema in the best way possible sir. Was it that old time classic, Rok Sako To Rok Lo, the movie that made erstwhile star Sunny Deol look like the biggest misfit in cinematic history? Bollocks. There have been numerous Bollywood movies that showcase this section of our society, and who the hell are we to judge this film? Haven't our movies depicted the "goras" that you mention, in a bad light for decades? Don't we create racists out of most Westerns, or murderers out of every Britisher that was in India in the pre-1947 era? Maybe Mr.Chaudhari is just ruing the fact that he couldn't think of a better idea for a movie himself. As for publicity, I hope this blog is all that he gets.

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  5. I don't know whether arindam choudari is doing this to create sensationalism,but I think he is just criticizing without any rational thought.why does he point out that is it the right time to release the film when the west is not performing well,I think he missed the point that film was actually started a long before the present economic crisis or the so called financial crisis broke out.No matter we made great strides ,but then we cant ignore ur past and the fact that slums that were portrayed were those in 1993 or so, before mumbai riots.we have the largest slum in country just beside our international airport in mumbai and, if mr.choudari is looking for publicity then ,I think this blog is what he all gets.

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  6. Even if a single child is sleeping hungry in a drainage pipe this movie is quit justifying and definatly for once it take away our mind from our parties and long drives it deserve what its getting.

    what the bollywood (some people) are afraid of are that hollywood workers have found there way in indian cinema and now they may wash away some fool dircters and actors, as have have enough to challange.

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