Saturday, January 17, 2009
The Slumdog Debate
After having won four Golden Globes, Slumdog Millionaire has made its way to the headlines of the newspapers. Brickbats and praise, both have come in plenty. Brickbats because of the apparent one-sided portrayal of the country as a religiously torn, poverty stricken economy where the second name for life is struggle. Praise because of it's fluent story telling, cinematographic brilliance, and most of all the fact that it is a masala movie made with technical perfection. A.R.Rehman is particularly brilliant with the background score, ensuring that the Indian touch is not lost while making a international film.
As most people know by now, the films tells the story of Jamal Malik through the questions of the game show "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" The fact a slum dweller could answer questions which leave even the most prepared puzzled cannot be digested by the arrogant host of the show. He calls for a police investigation. The story is told by the protagonist in the course of his interrogation, in the form of how he knows all the answers. There is joy, struggle, pain, honesty, romance, hope and simplicity in the narrative, a complete entertainer beautifully woven with the technical prowess which the combined Western and Indian crew brings to the movie.
I am writing not to review the film but to question the arguments of the brickbat throwers. Yes, it shows the negatives of our country, but it never says there is no upside to our country. If the movie shows the plight of child beggars, it is bringing to the forefront their troubles, which sadly not many Hindi movies have done in the past. It shows religious intolerance, which has been an ugly but living reality of our supposedly secular democracy. The movie may not portray the India of the 21st century, but it does portray the reality of a forgotten but existent part of our country. Moreover it embodies the survival spirit of every Indian, the struggle which we face in our life, the dreams which we see with open eyes. As exaggerated as it may seem, we can connect with it.
It is not the 'awesomest' movie ever. I have seen better movies than this.But it is an awesome movie in it's own right. One must see it with no prejudices. I don't guarantee you will like it, but you will surely say it's different.