Question:why does "Slumdog Millionaire", after winning 8 oscars this year, and deservedly so, still needs to prove itself to India/Indians?
Answer:It doesn't. Its a global phenomenon now and neither can BIG nor small As, Bs or Cs can do anything about it. The Academy awards are handed out for brilliance in the art and science of English film making and 8 Academy awards are more then enough to prove its mettle.
The criticism that i have heard most, in and around, for the movie is that it renders poverty in a voyeuristic way, it has won the awards because it was directed by a foreign director and its unrealistic portrayal. The "unrealistic potrayal" bit makes me laugh and begs me to ask "how real are you or any of your movies sir(s)/madam(s)?" This, in fact is as real as reality gets and makes me question if showing the abject poverty of every 3 out of 10 people who live beneath the poverty line in India can be considered as voyeurism or just the naked truth of the Indian underbelly?
Or if a foreign director, trying to make a movie and thereby helping the cause of alleviating the poverty from the lives of the people he touches, sadistic in any form or kind, especially when the upwardly mobile Indians are too busy rejoicing the Forbes list where 4 out the of 10 richest are of Indian origin?
The entire argument can be decided over by a single quote by Abraham Lincoln
"Question:How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?
Answer:Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
Danny Boyle and co, as always, had the courage to show the truth without thinking twice, had the courage to make 1/4th of the movie in Hindi without enquiring with his producer, had the courage to make a movie which had no big actors, had the courage to move on even when the initial distributors backed out, had the courage to direct a movie with a heart and had the courage to read books, which unfortunately, i dare say, our directors/etc don't get time to do, as they are too busy sequencing "item" numbers with the tasteless class for the tasteless mass.
Most of the world's greatest movies, including that of India's, have always come from books. Without literature there is no story and without a story there is no movie.
Its about time India and its junta realised that movies are more about the stories and less about the t-shirt tearing, bullet biting, goggle ogling, stammering, monologusing, accenting and eccentric actors with godforsaken godfathers, godmothers, godbrothers, godsisters and godfriends.
I pity people who choose not to associate with projects on human endeavour and hope but would rather dance in any birthday or marriage party for a crore rupees and return tickets.
I also pity people who frown upon Oscars and would rather grin over baseless plethora of filmy Indian film awards.
The other realities are; this movie of 15 million (75 crores) has now grossed in over 200 million (you do the counting-crores) and has bagged in around 100 awards worldwide.
Apart from the Oscars that Indians have got, it has also given Indian talent a platform to perform and showcase talent on. It has given Tanay Chheda a kiss each from Reese Whitherspoon, Penelope Cruz and Angelina Jolie (most Indian actors would kill for the same from anyone of the names mentioned). It has given Freida Pinto the vogue magazine's a spot in amongst the best 10 dressed lady ranking and given her Woody Allen's next movie which also casts movie also casts Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas and Naomi Watts (most Indian actresses would let them be killed for the same). It has also given the slum kids of the movie a flat each and an financial bond which will mature when they will be 18 and be handed over to them.
So at the end of it all i ask you, should we close our eyes and brush poverty under the carpet or should we face the reality and do something about it? Should we choose a truth that is a social gaffe or a faux sham that is pretentious? is Slumdog Millionaire voyeuristic
or is our over-the-top Bollywood blind?
Let's get real. Now, more than ever, is the time.
after all, we are what we do.
(Disclaimer: All names, photos et al belong to their respective owners. All rhetoric/satire/sarcasm made here has no unwilling references.)