Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumdog: Neo vs. Anderson

Smith: You hear that Mr. Anderson?... That is the sound of inevitability... It is the sound of your death... Goodbye, Mr. Anderson...
Neo: My name... is Neo.
Concisely, three things I realised after watching the movie "Slumdog Millionaire"--
1) Most of the scenes show slums (which is of course the backdrop of the movie, so no issues)
2) 'Real America'nism is in giving money to underaged car-thieves
3) Taj Mahal is absolutely necessary to the movie, even though it has nothing to do with either Slumdogs or Millionaires.
note: Did I mention the rioting Hindus? Its worth noting what David Milliband said in Mumbai recently.

Now for some logic, and it works. The slumdog in the movie has an unusually rich past (of course, associated with the third world) where he learns exactly only those facts that will help him in the contest. Now people really dont think that something like this can happen in real life. Right!
Lets see now--
A movie
a) that is, at the best, "entertaining" and at the worst, a stereotyped documentary,
b) with just about "OK" musical score,
c) where actors just manage to appropriately negotiate their roles (not that the roles are demanding),
d) whose credentials are far less than those of many many other Indian films ( choose your pick(s))
has managed to enthrall western audiences like never before.
That is the real question. Now, when T.P.Sreenivasan cried hoarse regarding this movie, people said we Indians are touchy. Right! How about now? How does a just-above-average, pop-corn-lovers' movie go on to win multiple Oscars? Now, isnt this a real life slumdog-millionaire story? But wait! I thought people dont believe something like this can really happen!

Either truth is stranger than fiction, or, we just dont want to see the obvious fact--
The west is hell-bent on telling us that we are still a third world country with all the associated vices--corrupt politicians, negligent state machinery, gangsters roaming about freely, not to mention its favorite--child abuse, and of course human rights violations. We have no right to be compared with the west, or to even dream to have a place of pride in the world. In short, it wants us to remain "Thomas A. Andersons" for the rest of our lives, our childrens' lives and their childrens' lives. The best part is, when someone "dares to come out with the truth", they "appreciate the effort", and stuff him with awards as an encouragement-- "See lads! Now thats a good movie. Now go on and make more of that kind if you want awards too!"

And I see that Mr.Smith has already entered some of our Indian brethren who have already resigned to becoming just dumb Andersons. Take for instance, Great Mr. Rahman-- He has allowed himself to be used a guinea pig for this exercise. Of course he got his prized Oscar, and for the effort he has put in through all these years, I daresay he deserves many Oscars. But for Slumdog Millionaire? The music is nowhere near his standards, and there is nothing in the music that identifies it with the slum-culture of Mumbai. But Wait! There is some sitar.... since this movie is based in India! And the sitar is so out of place and no unidentifiable, that it only be said that ARR has bent backwards to make his music sound like the "Indian Music" dished out by those oriental-obsessed westerners who think they are playing "Indian Music", because thats the only "Indian Music" understood by the West. This, my friends, is what is called "stereotyping".

Clever Mr.Smith! Very Clever!


Karmasura said...

Look who's taking credits..

"Congress claims Slumdog credit"

Now that was some salt for our wounds..

Gandaragolaka said...

well, its a fact. Socialism always breeds more poverty, more bureaucracy, and more corruption. And that means more slums.

Not to mention that fact that if you intentionally keep a large section of people (minorities esp.) without access to education, you can make slumdogs out of ordinary people.

Thiagarajan M said...

I wanted to write about slumdog in my blog after watching the movie. after reading urs, there was no need of that. extremely good, as far as i m concerned, bcas it tells wat i wanted to tell. more on sterotyping and AR's music. i wanted to write exactly the same on AR, that though this is not a materpiece of his, it can be considered for some other works that he has produced in the past. but as a movie, it is worthless to get oscar. west apna kunnas nikhaal raha hai and publicising that India, even though growing is still a poor man's abode. i m not worried abt the movie crew. i dont even care, as they are all white skinned and stereotyped (like our Tim's book on blore). its all disheartening when u see the media in India talk abt the movie. they r just stupids. i dont know if they really think what they are talking abt and what they want to convey to the public. they are more close to these ppl who are portrayed in the movie, they shoot so many things, they had been to these places, they know what it is in India. They are nearer to these ppl physically, but far from them at hearts. idiots. i dont want them to criticize the movie, but they could have stopped hyping and claiming laurels on something that tells "Hey you are not what you are". i don't know how close u follow Indian media. But if were hear u wud have heard every TV channel and newspaper talking rubbish on that movie, and every other guys making propagandas, except a few.

Gandaragolaka said...

As a nation, we are searching for role-models in the west and we have no use for our ancient masters.

It all starts from whats being taught in our schools and who is teaching us... as long as convent schools are most sought after, the situation will remain the same.

Most communist politicians like the Karats, most media people in business like Sardesai and Barkha Dutt, most of the 'social-activists' like that AID-India guy have come from a convent background like St.Stephens or communist one like JNU.

As long as we churn out 'intellectuals' like Amartya Sen, the trend is going to continue.

I guess it boils down to where do we put our children? Are we bold enough to join them in a non-standard, but really good Hindu-Vidyalayas? Or we just fall for those convents with huge campuses and highly paid teachers?

We really can make a difference by teaching our children to believe in themselves than ape some white-guy.