Is ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ poverty porn?

January 28, 2009

“As the film revels in the violence, degradation and horror, it invites you, the Westerner, to enjoy it, too…Slumdog Millionaire is poverty porn,” wrote London Times’ columnist Alice Miles.

The phrase “poverty porn” spread across the Indian media as commentators nodded in agreement or shook their heads even before the film premiered in its native Mumbai and India could (legally) watch it.

A group of the city’s slum dwellers, including children, protested against the word “dog”. A social activist filed a defamation case in Patna. And this week, hundreds of slum dwellers in Bihar’s capital ransacked a movie theatre demanding the title be changed.

So, is it really “poverty porn” for the Westerner’s delectation? Are beatings, torture, and the maiming of street beggars a sick form of adult exotica?

Perhaps the question can be rephrased: does a morbid fascination with the suffering of others find a place in art and is “Slumdog” are a striking example of this?

Be it a film on the Nazi holocaust, or based on crime, or a painful examination of the horrors of drug abuse (Trainspotting?), viewers can gawk at the world’s dirty underbelly whether or not they would describe themselves as pain perverts.

But the film has caused real offense in some parts.

“‘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,” wrote management consultant and film producer Arindam Chaudhuri on his blog.

Chaudhuri and others say the film crosses the line into stereotype in a way that “stinks of racial arrogance” and is designed to undermine India’s inevitable rise on the world stage.

According to Chaudhuri, the film serves up “India as the accidental millionaire, which in fact happens to be a slumdog”.

But take the critically acclaimed movie “La Haine” (Hate), about life in the grim suburbs of Paris. Riots, needless bloodshed, police’ brutal treatment of immigrants and monotonous poverty are its subject matter and there is no happy ending.

Should France have rushed to the city’s defence and said the (French) director wallowed in the city’s troubles when Paris has so much more to offer? Could he not have made a film set in the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the world-famous catwalks?

Should “City of God” have apologised for being set in the troubled slums of Rio and because it didn’t address Brazil’s own emergence on the world stage?

The director of “Slumdog”, Danny Boyle, is up for an Academy Award. But some panned the film on its own perceived demerits and said it does not deserve 10 Oscar nominations — three for music director A.R. Rahman will do. The three people I went to see it with were underwhelmed.

Some saw the film as trite and inconsistent. For example, the hero’s sudden knowledge of English after his stint as a guide at the Taj Mahal came under scrutiny, especially since it allowed Boyle to shoot large chunks of the film in his native tongue.

Whether or not a moviegoer wants to spend his money on a film set in slums seems a matter of taste, but with more expected protests in India, the controversy has not died down.

51 comments

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i was underwhelmed after watching it too. cant figure out what the fuss is about. what if danny boyle had directed lagaan and ashutosh g. had directed slumdog? would the award history have been different?

Posted by dalia | Report as abusive

I didn’t hate it. The portrayal of India, Mumbai and the slums is really commendable but i really wished they’d committed to that idea and not hire a kid from the UK with a heavy British accent to play the protagonist. For an Indian who lives in Mumbai, it’s so difficult to connect to the older Jamal because he speaks a much more polished English than anyone else in the film. The issue of ‘language classism’ (if that’s a term) is huge in India. There are many young people in India that can’t get decent jobs because of the fact that their English is weak, and politicians are contantly at war over the issue of English becoming more necessary than regional languages in today’s India. Hell, Jamal speaks better English than all the employees at the Call-Centre he works at. Most of the film’s narrative is driven by the idea that Jamal comes from poverty and has very little going for him. I wouldn’t believe a child with a complete Public School education could speak English like 12 -year old Jamal did let alone a kid from the slums.
This wasn’t an intellectual film, it was an emotional one… Unfortunately , I just didn’t feel for yuppy, private schooled Jamal.

Posted by sidkumar | Report as abusive

I have watched this movie , what people need to understand is everyone cannot be pleased all the time and thats why this world has many critics. this movie with its theme set in the slums of Mumbai and its insights into the lives of the people from all walks of life ,do portray the “real” thing. there are not all good people in this world as this movie has shown ,there are bad people who take advantage of kids ,and then there are successful people(the shows host) who do not want the kid to succeed . thats the real situation is majority of the cases . in a country riddled with poverty and hunger amidst growing economy and power ,these facts best not hidden show how far we lack when it comes to being human ,in todays “cutthroat” world.

I agree, the english speaking by Jamal was not believable. Although it did make for an emotional film. why can;t they see this?

I also agree. The older Jamal should have been closer to an Indian speaking English as opposed to a Brit. This is not a swing against the Brit actor, but a comment over the selection criteria of the actors.

I believe the whole thing about an Indian or a Brit directing it and the resulting awards is really a SILLY discussion. And so is the discussion surrounding the inclusion of “dog” in the name.

Overall great film.

Posted by hb | Report as abusive

Danny Boyle has fully exploited the Mumbai slum situation. The direction and sudden bursts of English by the orphans (who never went to school) was more like a Bollywood film without the song sequences.
. Some scenes were extremely exaggerated and made to suit audiences in America and the western world. The scene which portrays Americans as Philanthropists must have struck a chord on Hollywood Foreign Press for Golden Globe fame and probably the Oscar’s. This movie clearly does not deserve the awards nor does Rahman’s music (he has composed better music). The only notable performance was by Irfan.
Clearly the movie has made Danny a slumdog millionaire! If he could gain respect in Mumbai slums if he shares some of the windfall gain with the very people he made money out of.

Posted by Cyril | Report as abusive

i just dont get it ..about all the fuss thats made about the film ranging from a-class bollywood stars to the self proclaimed guardians of Indian pride and honour.

The questions that I suppose one has to ask oneself is

Is Dharavi a reality? – yes
..like it or not it is the largest slum in asia and a metaphysical reality

Does injustice happen there – we have every reason to believe so

and which ones a better portrayal of the real world and which is fantasy? – Slumdog millionaire or the slew of mushy slush that karan johars factory churns out to which the indian audiences so readily queue up to.. flushing their hard earned money down the sink…getting themselves high on sentimental dope, portraying an unreal world…

and the whole slumdog protests are a farce..theres obviously somthing lost in translation here or something more thats read into transliteration…i suppose the people behind the movied arrived at the name combining slum and underdog = slumdog… but dont expect that to calm our fellers…

agree the point about the guys english accent is a huge hole..dunno how the filmmakers wriggle out of that one when they are asked the question..

Posted by Venkat | Report as abusive

If they don’t like their children to be called dogs, then stop treating them that way or worse. Educate your children, stop using them as cheap slave labor, and abusing them. These children may be poor, but remember they are the future.

Posted by mudpie | Report as abusive

The accent did not distract. It’s relevance to the plot was no more significant than the dancing when the credits rolled. It’s entertainment! Lighten up and enjoy the suspense, comedic moments, the sadness, the relationships, the unspeakable as the plot unfolds.

Posted by brownsugar | Report as abusive

A normal Indian film with a hollywood tint.

Definitely not the best of AR Rahman.

Posted by Ram | Report as abusive

Dear REUTERS Webmaster,

Please remove this post because SlumDog is a hit movie and some stupid Directors, Producers and Actors are posting some negative post about it and they never visit any slum area. But SlumDog is a real Image of India. We need appreciate it.

“Insaan chahe kitna bhi bada(Rich) kyon na ho, usse apne okaat kabhi nahi bhoolni chahiye.”…. These are the lines of Big B(Amitabh Bachan) in his own movie.

Posted by RaviRAWAT | Report as abusive

these critisms as clever as they do sound(poverty porn) are needless. it was a good film that made most emotional. no film is flawless——> this great film that does not deserve the needless contraversy that so many are so willing to impose.

good films are rare – respect this fact. i did after i saw quantum of solace.

Posted by Matthew McHaffie | Report as abusive

good flick…basically the only foreign element I could detect was romantic visuals of India’s trains and a few extra garbage shots..otherwise this is standard bollywood fare.

As for people who claim the film insults an emerging india..well if you want to watch films that only portray India or any other country on a positive light, try watching a few Disney films, or maybe some Leni Riefenstahl….Lesson here is that if you want to play with the (oscar or slum!) dogs, be prepared to sleep in the kennel!

The Western world might be perplexed at the Indian sentiments over Slum Dog, but then perhaps they haven’t got a clue how it feels like when every film that is based about your country is always stereotypical and degrading. How strange that the world isn’t interested in examining India’s phenomenal rise to power, the ascent of the middle classes or the tech industry. Perhaps it makes people in the west feel better about their own hardship and the current recession. Perhaps every film that comes out of the US should be focused on the plight of trailer trash, or every British film about council house estates and the working classes. But I guess we’d better hush for fear of being seen as over sensitive.
Yours a second generation Asian Brit.

Posted by Shaz | Report as abusive

It’s a well made beautiful story. If poverty is one aspect of India, she will be associated with it from time to time. Don’t we have hundereds of movies made on Germany’s rule of Hitler. That dosen’t bring her in a bad light today because that is the past. Sameway, such portrayal of poverty will continue to bother us Indians until we do something about it. For the time being, we could be releived that we are not atleast being portrayed as blood sucking Pakistani terrorists.

Posted by Aaruni Upadhyay | Report as abusive

Athos, Porthos, Aramis – does this ring a bell? Well, it didn’t for me. And, am sure it wouldn’t have for a million and more in India. I asked around and none remembered studying about the Three Musketeers in school, that too at the age of 5.

For a movie that has gone to the depths of detailing hell and back to now knock on the doors of Kodak Theater, the least the director and his team could have done was come up with a more plausible list of questions, given the fact that the entire plot revolved around a quiz show.

Slumdog Millionaire was a waste of my time and money.

Posted by Jamal Mallik | Report as abusive

WOW! For the best part of the morning I have been sifting through web page after web page of slumdog critics, slumdog supporters and those odd few who still remain on the fence. Slumdog Millionaire is certainly not an Indian film, because if it was, it would certainly have portrayed a heightened sensitivity and creative flair to cater for the domestic audience. Yes, to some extent the film is a showcase of Mumbai’s ‘underbelly’ and Boyle’s rags-to-riches depiction is merely that, a depiction and nothing more. His interpretation of the Indian slum-dweller is completely naive and over-rated and a film like Satya by RGV has much more backbone and understanding of the real grit of the underworld than slumdog could ever dream of. One aspect which has angered me the most is that the real essence of the film was represented by the child actors, they have hardly been given any recognition for their performance for carrying this poor example of a pseudo-bolly film. Instead, we have a dismal performance by a small screen British Indian actor, Dev Patel, and an even more dismal Freida Pinto.
All in all, Slumdog is a re-write of history and yet another example of a westerner exploiting this once colonised nation for his own monetary gain. The Western world wants to remind India of what it is through their overwhelming support for this film, however, I sincerely think it is time to remind the west of what we also are not.

Posted by AB | Report as abusive

Since Indian directors don’t get the money to make such films, we should be glad Danny Boyle did. It showed life in the slums in all their authenticity and I don’t see anything derogatory about it.
This is 2009 and the world knows that life in India is not only about the slums of Mumbai.

Posted by Sakshi | Report as abusive

Slumdog Millionaire narrates the spirit of life in the Mumbai slums and deserves all praise that has come its way. Lay fans or critics, people are at liberty to attack the film although it shows the number of people moved by it. The critical acclaim for the film also puts the commercial Hindi films dished out of Mumbai in perspective.

Anyone is at liberty to make a film on any subject under the sun. Despite the talent in the Indian ranks, few step out of their comfort zone, travel and work on subjects that would appeal to a wider audience.

Saying the film exploits poverty or finding shades of racism in it leaves one wondering whether Indians are increasingly becoming inward looking; craving for praise but reluctant to appreciate others. A strong dose of tolerance is also in order.

After all, it is just a film. Life goes on.

Amitabh Bachchan recently declared there was no reason to be defensive about the kind of films India makes. Fair enough. I only wish he had also castigated those who desperately seek international recognition (the jockeying for Oscar nomination is well known)!.

I hope an Indian would one day make a film that would have genuine universal appeal.

Posted by ananth | Report as abusive

well..jst bcoz a firangi man revealed our weakness ,we are feeling dead and insulted…when the likes of madhur bhandarkar and other art movie directors make such movies we appreciate their effort….accept it..we have problems..and jst by opposing movies we cant overcome them…

Posted by juhi | Report as abusive

yes, this is happening or has happened in india. i am an indian and proud to be one.though after watching the movie i felt a little humiliated about the situation shown, it also made me think and thats what a film is supposed to do. its upto the filmmaker to what to include in his script and his freedom to determine the name. every country has two faces, one beautiful and other ugly and so has india. there is no need to make big issues. i appreciate the bold approach of director and cast in this film. even under these circumstances indian economy is one of the best and the film portraits the determination of indian youngsters. so quit making protests and be proud

Posted by rubs | Report as abusive

I actually enjoyed the film,it’s not very dragging, not a tear-jerker but it really can stir ones emotion and I like the ending. Slums are everywhere in the globe (and might even increase if the financial crisis won’t stop!) and the things that were happening there, I’m very sure they are also happening around the globe. Try to have an open mind when watching films.

Posted by jan | Report as abusive

A great movie, watched by an entire family here.(Canada) Everyone thought it was a great movie, a fabulous escape movie.
You come away from it with a good happy feeling.
This is exactly what miilions of people want to see.
All the actors were terrific and the director is top notch.
It is a marvelous story and the lesson learned by children is that knowledge will set you free.
The whiners and complainers of this movie have tiny narrow minds – I pity those that see bad in everything.
This movie deserves the top awards. Especially the young actors playing Jamal. The eldest one we shall see in more movies – he played the part extremely well.

I enjoyed this film, and was not looking at it through political eyes,I saw it as a good story.
Why is there a need to analyse it? Why not take is as it was meant, a piece of fiction.

Posted by Noel | Report as abusive

India is a very corrupt Country, and it is because of a Greedy few that the majority of the people suffer.

I feel that Slumdog was a bit over hyped, but it does raise a few very true issues about life and the system that it citizens must go through.

All I can say is that India maybe the biggest democracy in the world, but it doesn’t empower the people, majority of them being poor.

We need a change of system and attitudes, otherwise most Indians will remain slum dogs, and only dreaming of becoming millionaires

Posted by Sukhi | Report as abusive

One of the great films of the year! It will win all the Oscars it has been nominated for and go on to win many more film awards in the months ahead.
A carefully crafted work and worthy of the highest praise. An artistic masterpiece that the world will be even more grateful for as time passes.

Posted by Anil Gupta | Report as abusive

I was not enchanted with the movie at all. Thought the child-actors in the movie were quite believable though and deserve praise. Did like the flashbacks, however, I do not believe money will solve problems, as proposed in this movie and thousands of movies out of the U.S. Is money the root of evil? No, our perception of money is the problem, hence the economic meltdown in the U.S. (and globally).

Why was the film called Slumdog Millionaire? Are children in India really referred to as “slumdogs?” I travelled to India in the 1980′s and saw streets lined with beggars, mostly children, some maimed. It was difficult to see, and this was in the outskirts of bigger cities adn in the streets outside the Taj Mahal. Rumor had it then that many children were intentially maimed by their parents and forced into begging. Quite tragic. Will money resolve this issue in India? No. The real issues are spiritual if you really think about it. Will money resolve spiritual issues? No.

Did not buy the “love story” angle b/n the boy and the girl. That was typical Hollywood crap. Thought the ending was pathetic. Think the boy would have caught the girl if he had not won the money? So, what morals does this project? That women/girls cannot support themselves, that men must earn money to win women over, etc. That mindset is so boring, so outdated, and insults both women and men who actually carry their own weight in this world and pay their own way.

Boy meets girl, boy dreams of girl, boy wins a million dollars, boy gets girl. So juvenile.

And yes, the diction of the teenage boy was too crisp, too British. Since when in the movie did it show him studying that accent?

Nonethless, the movie was not great at all, stereotyping left and right. Pity that the world is not presented with more movies from India, ones which do not reek Hollywood.

Posted by renee USA | Report as abusive

what they had shown in the film is very good through all prospective rather it would be entertaining or the things which seems to be bad for some people who don’t want to realize the lacking in them,
one in all the film is a fantastic and the things they had shown the absolutely true,
over then 50% of citizen of india is living in the same condition which they had shown in movie.
thanks to DANEY for making a precious effort!!!!!!!!

Slum Dog was an enjoyable movie. Enjoyable but not incredible.I am inclined to agree that the reason Indians are so outraged is simply because they are only seen in one facet, through the eyes of poverty, slums, famine and drought. Every society in the world has its pockets of poverty, including the West, however Western culture is also glorified and seen idyllically through its countryside, heroes, history etc. India also has a rich and ancient history and a modern fairytale of its own which funnily enough never seems to interest the stuff of movie making. I wonder why?

Posted by Julia | Report as abusive

Amitabh bachan have problem with it because he is not a part of the moment of world recognition,
i m a huge fan of him ,but this time he is just making controversy.
if he have any problem with it than what about the movie which he had made in 2007 NISABD

Although the critics seem to be right with their arguments, but all the good things of the film can not be overtaken with such critics. The positive part of the film is that even the very poor and under privilaged persons of India are very talented and show their capabilities when given chance. In spite of calling ourselves as dogs and slumgdogs repeatedly and popularizing these words indirecly, we should let the fate of the film take its own course, we should think of producing better films in future. Even the Indian film makers have produced films which show more powery, corruption and social injustice. We should accept the reality and think of improvement rather than denial.

I believe most comments are missing the key point in this film, which articulates the value based character of hero… what I got away from the film was that it is possible to maintain integrity inspite of challages. The fact that hero continues to refuse the easy way out and insist on stating the truth, speaks volume. We should celebrate and encourage more directors to consider this reality that is embaded in our heritage and culture.

Posted by Mukesh | Report as abusive

I dont think we should take offence to the movie.
If we have to take offence, take offence to the fact that in India over one crore people live in a slum called Mumbai. and of the remaining 99 crore, at least another 20 crore- people in other cities all live in near slums.

Why do we suddenly become agitated when westerners show some bad side and get all happy happy when same westerners praise bharat for something ?

Dont we have any collective conscience? Khud ka dimag hai ya sirf doosron ke isharon par hi nachte rahenge ?

Posted by Upendra | Report as abusive

I loved Slumdog Millionaire. I thought it was uplifting and visceral. It was inspirational and real. It doesn’t matter if you are from the slums of Mumbai or the hills of the Appalacian’s. Rising from nothing to somehthing and following your dreams is the root of the film. If India wants to be a part of the world stage, they need to be open to a hard look at themselves and the reality of their class system. I have been to India many times, and the film painted a very realistic picture.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

You say that the film has caused real offense in some parts, and the only reference you provide is that of Arindam Chaudhuri.

Mr. Chaudhuri has a dubious history as an analyst and as a businessman with ulterior motives to come in extravocal support of the Indian identity. His word should be taken with utmost caution and put in the context of his past encounters in the blogging world.

@Upendra

Dude khud ka dimag hai tabhi ye bol rahe hain hum.
Every country has bright and dark side but western people enjoy looking at the dark side of India. Though it was western country who took away our money. We are trying hard and we will change the world\’s perception.

Take a look at CNN, BBC and all that western news channels, they always show when theres something bad in India, they seems less interested in showing how India has come as one of the main countries in this world after being robed by brits. Guess, it time for we Indians to change the world\’d perception and tell them one phrase by Kabir.

\”Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye
Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye\”

Posted by Ashutosh | Report as abusive

I cannot understand why there is so much hype about this movie.
The story line is a typical formula story in many South Indian movies.
Two brothers growing on opposite sides;
separation while trying getting into a moving train;
evil brother trying to kill good brother;

The chance meeting of the grown up Jamal and Latika has no logic and can be seen in almost most Indian movies.
The acting by the boys was fantastic- but what about the adult Jamal and Latika…?
They are on the way to become stars overnight….?

Posted by NK | Report as abusive

Slumdog is a beautifuly crafted presentation of relationships set in the back drop of poverty in an economicaly emerging nation. It presents the trials and tribulations of a social under dog. Its the story that 2/3 rds of a billion in a country like India either face or come across, but the other 1/3 refuse to acknowledge. Its a story that needed to be told so that the have nots in society atleast have a voice. There is an element of truth that we need not be ashamed of, for it reminds us that much more needs to done. Grime remains grime even if swept under the carpet.

Posted by Slumdog | Report as abusive

There is no poverty porn in this film. It exposes the real fact in Slums in India which very much exists right under the nose of those people who raise the concerns. I appreciate that the film could be an eye opener to the the currupt politicians of India who does not care for poor people. If India has the power to send a Moon craft why it cannot have the budget to uplift the slum dwellers. The people who raise their voices against this film should come forward and request the govt, politicians and other NGO’s to work for these people. One more important fact to be noted is that the directors and producers of Indian Masala films should uderstand and create world class films instead of producing silly and absurd stories of sterotypes they make all these years.

Posted by kpk | Report as abusive

Guys!!! Just enjoy the film as a work of art and relax! Don’t forget that the author and the real brain behind the story is an Indian. I agree that though the movie is good, it really does not deserve so many awards! Don’t you see, the real “Slumdog Millionaire” here is Danny Boyle!

As Indians we need not prove ourselves to every Tom, Di_ck and Harry! We know what we are and other ignorant ones will know soon! May peace prevail, the world is one family.

The movie showcases true facts about India and let us not hide from them! The slums are right under are noses and nothing much has been done about this! Movies like these do give a bad impression about India’s progress in today’s times but this is what is required to wake up the sleeping government and us the people of India! All those who are protesting against the movie should atleast make an effort to realize the bitter truth about our beloved India!

Posted by KC | Report as abusive

I watched it yesterday. First of all, I don’t enjoy watching movies showing abuse, miseries and disasters.
I found it a bit sensational. Furthermore, they should have stick with the girl who played “latika” while she was approx 16. Frieda Pinto simply doesn’t look like her at all whatsoever, I found it disturbing.
Script: At the end of the movie Jamal is asked the 3 Musketeers question. Wouldn’t it be great if he would answer “Latika was the 3rd”. This really would add something to the script. He would loose all his money, but he would be with her.

Overall, I don’t think this was such a good movie. I found it a bit sensational. Jamal’s acting (Dev Patel) was good though.

Posted by coen | Report as abusive

This film’s success relies strongly on exploitation of indian poverty & slums. if anyone disagrees, watch the scene invoving an american couple, where Jamal gets beaten up & at the end of the scene, amrican lady says ” see real america” & makes her husband to give money to jamal. its a typical hollywood film to which indians shouldn’t be proud of, eventhough there are indian actors, technicians and unfortunately a r rahman in it.

Posted by jiji | Report as abusive

A film that provokes so many Indians to give intelligent arguments for and against is already a success in many ways. How many Indian movies touch a chord as this one? But this is not 1857and Brits are not invading Kanpur. This blog sounds like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sick.
This film tells a good story, has great acting, fabulous camera work, superb music and everything just comes together for a truly universal appeal. Danny Boyle did not create Indian slums, he did not blind orphans, he did not create beggars on streets, he did not make call centers – he is just an artist trying to make a good film and get rich in the process. Lets be happy for him. And for those from Bollywood who do not like it – well, who stops you from making your own film on slums. Dont you make 700 films a year already?

Posted by Mrinal | Report as abusive

JAI HO?????????!!!!!!!
So here we are, guys. Nation of >one billion going gaga over an Oscar(Well, 3 Oscars to be precise).

Now Indian news channels have something for next 15-20 days to take the people for ride(They are still trying to keep the TRPs up by devoting many hours daily to Mumbai attacks-latest topic of discussion seems to be –whether we should hand over Kasab to Pakistan or not and obvious gratitude is palpable for Pakistani diplomats for letting us keep him!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think our starting position was that we have all our options ,including military options, open and Pakistan should hand over all terrorists responsible for attacks to India. Thanks to our politicians and focussed news channels ,we are obliged to feel obliged that Pakistan are letting us keep Kasab here and have even allowed his trial !!!!!!!!! I don’t think anywhere else in the whole universe can media make fun of collective intelligence of an entire nation so brazenly. Their prime time presentations are so much below standard that I find watching these a direct insult to common men’s intelligence. Between 8 to 12 PM many channels are showing totally irresponsible, violent, sexually explicit and offensive, misleading trash in the name of news and when government tries to say you can’t do that, they all collectively cry foul. Even renowned names can be seen interviewing IRRELEVANT PERSONALITIES repeatedly and regularly. Trivialisation of important events, undue emphasis on non-events, creating news where there is no news and provoking people to behave irresponsibly to get some bytes has become a routine for many .Most common question that a journalist can think of asking a dead persons’ relatives is –How are you feeling? Now how is one expected to answer that!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well I am feeling sort of high after all these interviews or better still just ask the jerk how should one feel?
Coming back to the original topic.A.R.Rahman gets 2 Oscars for Slumdog music. As far as I can understand that says nothing about his genius and our being so ecstatic about it is a bit belittling for this maestro. It is as if had he not got these Oscars ,there would have been some doubts about his creativity, as if Oscars have made him more AR Rahman than he already was. I feel that any awards ,however great their perceived value might be, redeem their own prestige by being bestowed upon people like Rahman and Gulzar. Artists like them do not need all these awards to establish their place in contemporary art history. As to why is this his first Oscar or why did no other Indian get the Oscar or BAFTA for music, direction, sound editing ,etc…etc… is as stupid as asking why any American movie could never figure in the list of Filmfare Awards or Indian National Film Awards. BAFTA is British Academy Of Film and Television Awards and Golden Globe and Academy awards are American awards for predominantly American/English Movies ,so much so that all foreign feature length films are competing for a single award-Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. So how can any Indian or any other non-English national Movie/ personality be awarded an Oscar when Oscars are simply not for them.
Coming back to AR Rahman again, like most Indians I’m also very happy that he got more international recognition ,that he won a big award, (that too with Hindi songs and maintaining his signature style),that a movie with predominantly Indian cast and totally Indian theme could sweep the Oscars. I’m disappointed, not because of how India is portrayed(If such exists ,let such be shown) ,I’m disappointed because what is shown ,might actually be near reality. Let us not belittle the movie, it seems to be an above average presentation (only problem being with the intent and content of the movie), but it got all these awards because it is an English movie, made by English Producer/directors .Had that not been the case, it would not be even short-listed and why should any Indian movie be short-listed for predominantly American/British awards, whatever the intrinsic qualities of the movie might be. After all, we do not nominate Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List for our national awards just because these are very good movies. We do not get Oscars simply because Oscars are not meant for us exactly the same way as our awards are not meant for Foreign language movies. Media creates unnecessary and ill-informed hype and most of the times most of us are carried away.
Rahman’s music is definitely beyond all the awards and though Jai Ho is a very good song with beautiful lyrics by Gulzar Sahib and equally soulful rendition by Sukhwinder, getting all these awards does not make it Rahman’s best. In fact his slower compositions(Masakkali,Gendaphool,Kahna hi kya,Chhoti si asha,Bin tere kya jina etc…etc..the list is endless) and songs with Sufi touch (Khwaja mere Khwaja,Maula)and semi prose(Dil Se re,Ma Tujhe Salam)are much better though they carry the same force and energy levels(and this is typical of him –slow songs with boundless energy and such enriching soulfulness that you become mesmerised by the overall effect).
So, these awards are a welcome tribute to theses great artists but even before these awards they have given us many and much better masterpieces and let us not forget that these awards have only re-established the greatness of these artists and in doing so have re-emphasized their own value also. Because, awards or no awards Rahman and Gulzar will remain what they are and Sukhwinder will sing just as soulfully and anyways I do not think that European/British/American populations can ever be able to understand the meaning of Mora Gora Ang le le or Phir se aiyo Badra Bidesi or Chhoti si akhani se,wadiyon ke pani se. This mysticism is beyond them. So let them be happy with their Pretty woman and enjoy Masakkali and Sasural Gendaphool.

So much for the Oscars ,Indian media(specially news channels),AR Rahman and all.

Regards to all.

Posted by VIKASENDU AGARWAL | Report as abusive

People think too emotionaly in India. Intelligent people never react this way. Once i visited India and the slums. when i tried to make pictures, people got angry and started schouting at me. Absolutely stupid. When this people do not allow anybody to know their reality, how can they get helped.Bhagwan can visit you in several roles, as a tourist,
as a begger or as Danny Boyle.. We never know. Just welcome them and wait.

Posted by Preety | Report as abusive

I think if we feel ashamed of indias povery we ought to get up and do something about it. before india’s vast influx of wealth their was a n excuse for slums and now as so many have rusen to high stature its time we stopped closing our eyes. I used to attend religios discourses at a very affluent ashram in POWAI who’s temple overlooked the slums. Despite the plea of so many spritual teachings this ashram never lifted a rupee to rebuild their neighbors in need. I think now that our eyes are opened all of us should makeit a point to in some way rehabilitate and make ourselves of NO ONE IN NEED. If it means we ourselves skipping that five star lunch or for our religious leaders to stop pandering for power and rebuilding a nation that we are not ashamed of. JAI HO

Posted by Jai | Report as abusive

I found a very interesting post which discuss the Indian perspective to Slumdog Millionaire.

Really makes you think.

http://www.indiasoulcurry.com/2009/02/sl umdog-millionaire-indian-perspective.htm l

Posted by Julian | Report as abusive

This is a really interesting article!! I recently read an interview with danny Boyle about his visit to Africa, its worth a look
http://www.bigissuescotland.com
Let me know what you think

Posted by Rosemary | Report as abusive

People will complain about anything and everything. It was a good movie. It was one that could make you feel better. People are offended, when they are looking to get offended.

Posted by T-rex | Report as abusive