Last night I saw Slumdog Millionaire. I was happy I saw it, though I was not euphoric. Almost everyone in India is speaking about it. Let me put down my 10 penny’s worth of reflections about this gripping movie.
I felt disgusted with some of the scenes in the movie – particularly where the hero jumps into the cesspool in his excitement to see Amitabh Bachhan. This is hardly reflective of the reality in any part of India. I was filled with equal revulsion to see a child being blinded by putting liquid metal in the eye. The communal fury and violence was another disturbing scene. I thought this was artistic license taken too far.
Danny Boyle captured the attention of the world with a few sweeping, wild caricatures of India. Millions of people world wide will now perceive India as a land of cesspools, abominable cruelty on children and communal flare up. Even if such occurrences were based on reality, it does not feel good to wash our dirty linen in public.
On the other hand, people living in depraved conditions in slums are a reality. How I wish we did something about improving their lot rather than wishing the slums away!
However much I searched and tried, I could not see the movie ending on a note of hope and optimism. Winning a lottery on a string of coincidences is hardly what I would term as inspirational.
In the latest issue of Sunday Times, Dr.Deepak Chopra, the world renowned spiritual writer, makes two fascinating points about Slumdog Millionaire.
One, “Many well educated Indians have looked westward for a long time, which is easier than looking inward. They know more about the streets of London and New York than the teeming lanes of the ghettos in their own city.” Two, “Past history and ingrained inhibitions make it hard for Indian artists in any field to be as frank and true to life as they should be. They have yet to seize freedom.”
In our land we have slumdogs (I am referring to the poor in general) and they inhabit a world of their own. Their culture, morals, rules and life in general are different. The more affluent do not mix with the folks in this land.
Then there is the land of the rich – meaning people in the middle and upper strata of society. Their culture, morals, rules and aspirations are also very different. They prefer to live, as far away from the slumdogs as possible.
The slumdogs and the rich meet in movie halls. Sitting in different classes, they sink into the make-believe fantasy world of movies for about 2 hours or more. They see glamorized rags to riches stories, the hero vanquishing the evil after unbelievable stunts. They do not come to the movies to see their world as it is. The slumdogs cannot afford the pain of more pain and the millionaires cannot bear the intrusion of reality into their sanitized world.
As it happens most often, the value of Indian talents increase multi-fold after their discovery by the west. The west has validated the truth that several of our artists and technicians are world class. We should thank them for the favour and lose no time in joining in the celebrations earnestly. Let us go gung-ho about the achievements of A.R Rahman, Resool Pookkutty and Gulzar.
However, we must develop our own self respect and make effort of our own, to unearth and recognize our precious talents in various fields.
Finally, isn’t it a matter of pride that all the three Oscar awardees are from the minority community? And the entire nation is proud of them. Despite the poverty and so many other shortcomings, we know the true meaning of “unity in diversity”.
It is celebration time.
Image Credit: Master Orz