Criticizing “Slumdog Millionaire” is a new status symbol! If you want to get heard, criticize something which is popular and successful. Perception lying behind this criticism doesn’t have profound arguments, I believe. There are a few remarks I have heard so far (even from those who have not watched the movie), “Is it fair to portray India as a country of poor and criminals?”, “Do these western countries want to display India as a third world country and they always like to see us as Third World?”, “Does the Oscar get attracted to the movies about India, where there is poverty and crime?” and finally my own question, “Is the Oscars a benchmark?”
Plenty of questions for a single British movie by a British Director but well contributed by “excellent” actors from bollywood itself, beautiful music by an award winning music director, an ace lyricist, including Indian origin British in lead role “Jamal”, Dev Patel. I have more than one reasons to feel proud. Apart from that, I think the film has served the purpose of visual media to send a message across and to penetrate some thinking into sleeping minds. I would rather consider this drift as a process for ripening some maturity over such issues. Hollywood makes hundreds of movies regarding crime, mafia, trafficking or even terrorism in North and South America. They have made movies like ‘Blood Diamond’ based on African insane situation, poverty and crime. They are extra violent and sometimes not even watchable! Although, it is not always based on reality, more often it’s a brainchild of a director or a writer. Even while making a film on a true story, film makers do take liberties to inject their imaginations. Hence, I see it as a film recorded by a foreigner when he saw something he doesn’t really know and he is quite interested in! I never missed a chance to take at least a picture in my phone camera if I found a dirty street in London. And I think this is far more artistic representation of Indian slums, the life style and the problems they face, specially in Mumbai.
Rather, I see it as a story of a wonderful kid, who plays around in dirty water where near her mother his washing clothes and who is extremely happy. It is about that sensitive kid who wants to give a roof to a little girl who is orphan and homeless, getting wet in hard rain and still he wanted to obey his elder brother not to invite anyone under their shelter. It is about an innocent kid who was exploited and was forced to beg on streets by a few villains of the society. It is about that loving kid who was discomforted and worried for not being able to take her girl on the train while escaping. It is about a guy who loves that girl for all those years when he couldn’t even see her! It is about that honest “Jamal” who learned a lot of things while serving ‘chai’ to the call center employees. It about a lover, who is ready to run away with his love of life over any odds he would have to face. It is about that ‘chaiwala’ who fortunately get a chance to take part in a game show which co-incidentally bring him all those questions where he visualizes his whole life in front of his eyes over each new question. The film is all about those filmy things, which make us laugh, which make us cry and at the end which make us smile to a happy ending.
The film is soothening to heart, where all these human elements – nature of happiness, sensitivity, innocence, love, brotherhood and most importantly the willing desire to live and accept life as it comes in spite of all odds! I did not see any big dreams in the eyes of Jamal, and neither does he pass any day dreaming hopes to those poor people. At the first point, this movie is made for us, who are having no idea about those lives. I don’t think anyone from those slums would prefer to watch SM if he/she would be having hundred bucks! They would rather watch Chandni Chowk! So there is no harm! Now, it is up to us, if we put our HANDS on noses as it is too stinky or we make them dirty for some social and physical cleaning!!!
I do not deny having need of at least little critical view for every media work, we have a real picture in front of us. Slums like the ones shown in movie, do exist in India. It is hard core reality! And it was definitely a saddening experience to see such poverty but it is making me think about “what can be done?” Otherwise, it is all a glam business that who got nominated in Oscars and who will be winning awards.
As a lady from UK, Christina challenged Ahmedabad people for city’s cleanliness and as an answer hundreds pour on the streets to clean the public roads, let’s think about sustaining these people who live in slums, giving them people a better life, better place to stay, education and employment! I know that sitting here in a chair, posting blogs is easier – but the sensitivity and basic thinking may lead you and may encourage you some day to take a step out of the box.