23 February 2009

Jai Ho ?!

Tonight again Britain raised the flag at the expense of India at the Oscars.

Q & A the original story written by an Indian Diplomat,Vikas Swarup is the movie Slum dog millionaire that took home many awards. An equally talented British screen play and script writer translated the same into a movie bringing it to many living rooms because a genius mind saw the potential of a great plot and a story for accolades, attention and awards that appealed the western psyche but for an average Indian this movie is only an ordinary one.

The Brits are thorough with their knowledge to vex their muscles with India. Having ruled them for 200 years and stolen human capital and material possessions they did not hesitate to make their way back in the 21st century this time depicting poverty and collecting Oscars. It seems like Indians in every form is a lucky charm for the British.

Slum dog millionaire wouldn’t have graced the red carpet if it was done by an Indian. However one leverage being that an Indian household name A.R Rehman took not one but 2 Oscars to night.. Talent in India is many, but opportunities are few and recognition fewer! Congratulations A.R Rehman. Congratulations Resul Pookutty.

Congratulations to the many cast members of slum dog millionaire who took a flight for the first time in their life. The stars may have been perfectly aligned for them at least for once and I hope this is just the beginning for them. .I would think that most of them who played their real life for the reel go to public school where even the basic infrastructure is not present.

When I worked in GE, in the next cubicle, I heard boos of laughter when an American raised in upstate New York narrated the story of child beggars who hovered around him when he landed at the Bombay airport. And today slum dog millionaire earns an Oscar depicting the same characters. The movie is a story of triumph and perseverance against all odds.

While all of us sat in the comfort of our homes and saw the ceremony that glittered amid recession, millions of slum dwellers crowded in homes smaller the size of your galley kitchen that had a television set but many more left their homes early at dawn to earn bread. I heard in the grape vine that the land – Dharavi, the largest slum in Bombay is being sold for thousands of millions to real estate developers. That means the slum dwellers will be without a home.

And on another note is this Oscar award a political move? I cannot help but think that Washington had played a role in tipping the scale for Oscars in favor on a movie based on India. Are they encashing on the emotions of Indians for an unseen favor ?

The world is definitely a stage. I must agree with Shakespeare.

Edited to add: the painting above


Pangala Nagendra Rao said...

Thought provoking!!
Will comment in detail later!!

Indyeah said...

Thats one strong post Anrosh:)
Questioning everything and speculating about the motives of Washington and how the British have once again managed to do it to us...

can't comment on all of that really..

''The movie is a story of triumph and perseverance against all odds.''
For me,the movie was just this.
A movie .Period.

And to be absolutley frank,it strikes me now that if I was outside India and had to listen ,see and read about the ridicule/pity in their eyes/conversations/papers I too would be forced to question every movie and anything that comes out of India.

Maybe I am in India where most of us are passive spectators with the chalta hai attitude...and that is why I cansee it without any hassles.or maybe I am so used to living with these realities that I too am one of those incompetentIndians who doesnt do a thing,accepting everything as their lot in life.

To be absolutely frank,I can imagine the anger ,the self doubts the embarassment and the shame if an 'outsider' was to speak about India like this infront of me.These are the emotions i would feel as I already do when I hear patronising tones by foreigners while walking in CP,new delhi.

But isnt the 'foreign angle hand strecthing the imagination a tad too far?

and the brit?well....I dont know...the guy has made good movies before...but never any money...maybe Danny Boyle figured out that this was the best masala formula that would guarantee him box office earnings and awards galore...from all the awards ceremonies leading up to the oscars..(as you have already written about the genius mind)
and now the Oscars have been conquered too...

but the brit angle again is hard to digest.

becasue imagine if this film had been made by someone like Madhur bhandarkar ala Traffic signal...would the film then have been justified?would it then have been accepted by the Indians who dont like SM right now?

Yes,granted that Madhur would never have been able to get to the Oscars...but the 'phoren' director tag is the inly problem or rather criteria that I see the Oscar people going for.

Apart from that,I do not see how it matters.

Even if we woulnt have won,who cared?Now that we have,most of us are happy or okay or simply dont care.The proportion of those feeling happy is equal to the erst.

But the happiness quotient will be played up by the Indian media like we have just conquered mt everest.
And that is where the resentment starts creeping in.
A jaded feeling that what the?

When the news channels specially the hindi ones say India has won!Bharat jeet gaya..bharat ki fatah!one wnats to puke at the sheer drama...

But the point is this is how we are..we go overboard in every instance..

We are a nation that gets offended at the drop of a hat.
We are a nation that dissects every little happening (even if assciated with India in the tiniest manner)like our life depends on it.

We are a nation that thinks everyopne is out to get us.We are the downtroddenones.'They' take advantage of our poverty and commercialise it.

The simple thing is that such movies dont do a thing.

These movies do not affect perceptions of India.

And if they do then I can only pity such souls who let their view of a country get influenced by a movie!

The truth is such movies will continue to be made.

We have to ignore them coz they dont matter they are a work of fiction,nothing more.

But ...(and look at the irony here)
For India this is also the reality...tehre is a ver thin line between fiction and reality...

One has to continue working in the slums,the rural areas anywhere where it is required..and get to a point where such movies would be laughed at so absurd
they would seem in the face of no poverty..

I work in the Delhi slums and no one there gives a damn about this movie..(as you said too)

they are just interested in ensuring that their children get to
schools,get educated,get three meals a day...
lets focus our energies on that..

such movies will come and go...till then just enjoy such movies for what they are...a work of fiction...(again irony)
and nothing more..

such movies dont make or break us...we do..

PS loads of typos up there..

Manjunath Singe said...

If some of the larger-than-expected profits are directed toward the slums where the movie was made, skeptical ppl like you might prefer to believe that SDM has actually won 8 Oscars. After all, share of the glory is what everyone needs! Danny and his team have donated so much silently towards many not so lucky children and I am sure they will continue doing that...
It's time to celebrate mate!

Indyeah said...

a link that says something similar to what you are trying to..I read it but thought that hariharan went overboard..


got it from Charakan's blog

and here's a rather funny review defending SM..:))


Vinod_Sharma said...

An, Danny Boyle comes across as a very simple, honest person. I am unable to see 'Danny Uncle', as his slum kids call him, as a haughty imperialist or even an 'outsider' whose aim was to run India down by showing its pockets of extreme poverty nakedly. Richard Attenborough, who made Gandhi, did carry that distant aura but still produced a masterpiece that, perhaps, no Indian could have, not because of lack of ability but because he would have found it almost impossible to remain objective about the Mahatma.

Yes , there might be some hidden political agenda,as you suspect. But to me, more than this movie winning the Oscar is the triumph of Rahman. The world is now going to see a lot more of this musical genius. That is something that should give us all joy. Jai ho!

P.S. Dharavi is being redeveloped yes, but all slum dwellers will be rehabilitated there itself and will get flats in some of the new high rises that will come up.

virginia said...

danny boyle's background is working-class irish, which is quite different from british. i know nothing about him, but the rift between the irish and the brits is many bloody (Irish Republican Army) kilometers wide.

i am a true american mutt, but part irish on my mother's side. she was "born" with an intense dislike for british protestants, even though she resembles queen elizabeth (she was so insulted when i made that observation)!

angela's ashes, by frank mcCourt, is a good read (and movie)and will give you some insight into the poverty and class system present in the british isles. "whoredom in kimmage" by rosemary mahoney, offers insight from an outsider american.

i have an idea that danny boyle had no ulterior motives, given his irish catholic background.

i have not seen the movie.

ves21 said...

I saw the film, while travelling in Europe. It struck me as a nice HolyBoly movie. Most people around me, when they came out, said it was a very nice film. Adorable kids.

I think one needs to behave like an ostritch that has stuck its head in sand, if one thinks that India does not have an image of a poor country. It is and does. Any weterner, from a "developed" country who arrives in India - I know many- is usually initially horrified. Ok, so what?

Anybody trying to hide the existence of slums? That's the first thing you see landing or taking off from Mumbai. Take a night taxi and the first thing you see is dozens sleeping in the street.

Yes the movie shows some pretty bad guys in the slums. Is that surprising? I suggest you watch an Ettore Scola film called "The ugly, durty and mean" about a Naples slum. Same in any slum or "lumpen proletarian" slumish western city.

This said, I think what one needs to see is that the movie shows some pretty nice slum people also, who lead a tough life, but want to succeed. The movie shows slum children studying. It shows that they have a drive, a decency and honesty that not all the rich people have. See amongst others eg the lottery anchor man - pretty egocentric, mean, fellow.

It somehow shows a driving force that can make a make anyone succeed. Nothing to be unhappy about.

Many wetern movies show pictures of western society that are pretty harsh.

India has many countries worried, since with China it is projected as a one of the leading nations in the near future. Its poor OK. But the poor people are not beggars but work. India is coming up and that because of people that have it in their guts. Would be faster if neighbour bashing like in the movie disappeared. That by the way is the MOST shamefull part. Everybody understands the "universal" mechanisms at play there, however.

So stop fussing about a "phoren " guy who made a good indian movie and got a prize. Don't look for a conspiracy. Idian actors & kids. Did a great job. No?

Guys, stop behaving like neo colonially liberated persons. That's gone - past century. Forget it. Age chalo. Its IT age and Chandrayaan. Work to eliminate slums, poverty, inequality, intolerance, maltreatment of women......

Shall I tell you one secret? I think that the export, penetration and impact of indian movies would be much higher if someone made the effort to "dub" them- make a good spoken English version. Its a "pain" to read subtitles!!
I even saw movies with OK subtitles in English, but a sort of ghastly, internet free translation into a dozen other Euro-languages. LOL! LOL! when you try to figure out what's going on. English, happily, is not the only language around.
And I would agree with the lady above an irishman from Ireland, would not like to be called a Brit.

Thumbs up for the prizes

Indyeah said...


Anrosh said...

Hello Rao


You bring up many points – I am trying to address some of them.

here is an interesting article –“getting it together social and institutional obstacles to getting off the streets” by Dalton Conley. Though it is written with NY in perspective many factors could be transferred to this setting. Think Dr. Younous of Bangaldesh – your efforts teaching kids in the delhi slums will bear fruit.

If you don’t act on your emotions in a constructive manner (happy, angry, upset) to the action of the media, the people in power will troll over. For eg: People would have protested over the ruling of this media Giant Bharka Dutt who derides everything, not to bring about constructive journalism but negative ones . wouldn’t you agree ? If it was in the US, the channels would have thrown her out much to the protest of its citizens.

Vinod, I am very used to seeing the western touches to eastern issues. They become a gold mine!

For the people on the street the Geographic’s of the white skin does not matter. They only know that white skin is English and they have ruled them oppressively for so many years and they have come again to pluck the little self respect that they try to earn by trying to put food on the table everyday. They are not on welfare and the governmental schemes end up in the pockets of governmental officials. This movie is glamorizing the underbelly. Art it is, but mockingly so.

And art derives its inspiration from society itself – to spin it positively or negatively is upto the director at hand though the story is very positive.

Danny Boyle in all his goodness is an award winning director. He did a wonderful job in all aspects of film making.
Thank You for mentioning the movie. I am always looking to see good ones.

The profits of the movie go to the distributors of the movie – directors, sound technicians and actors are paid staff. It is but a utopian thought that they will donate to the slums. A gram of the pie may be. Movies come and go – It is called Art. Art for the gratification of the soul ( at least that is what true artists earn for ) . Do not get swept away because of the sweet words that lull you into eternity of goodness.

Here the theatres are being sold out ! That is what I hear.
Very interesting points, with which I agree and have written in my other post – slum gods written on 29th jan 2009.
I have not seen the movie – but if I do see it and write again on it I will leave a comment for you in your inbox. And thanks for mentioning the movie – I have seen French movies too that depict poverty – I know that this is not the only one – BUT the fact is that it has caught the attention of the world. When people walk up to you and ask in not so many words and give you a questioning look and some ask “ your country is poor, isn’t it “? How do you answer them?

Thank You writers once again. Your perspective only adds to the richness of the post.

And I know that I can see some good movies and danny boyle has irish blood in him

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