A most ridiculous incident happened while I was travelling to work yesterday.
High on the Oscar wins, Slumdog Millionaire seemed to be the only topic everyone in the famed Virar locals of Mumbai could discuss. From Marwari businessmen to Gujarati share brokers to Bhayander’s Bengalis, everybody was talking about Danny Boyle’s movie with fervoured excitement. (I just came from a trip to Rajasthan and understand a little Marwari, I am half Gujarati, half Bengali, so I know what these little groups were talking about.) Halfway through the journey, a couple of MNC lads got in and caught the infection.
Now, they had very different things to say about the film. They did NOT like the movie and explained to each other why it was so. And there, the democratic right of free speech gave way to outrage. The Gujarati fellow began first. “You didn’t like the movie. It won Oscars, if you don’t like it, you are either too highbrow or you are simply unpatriotic.” Before the guys could react, another member said, “You guys look like BPO workers. Just because you take your cheque from a foreign company doesn’t mean you don’t respect Indian films.” The second bloke nervously hid his PSP in his laptop bag. By this time, everybody understood what had happened and began discussing the movie and the unpatriotic guys in great detail.
I sympathize with the two guys. I have kept my comments on the topic reserved because as a journalist, you are never supposed to take sides. But this is a blog, so let it be known, I found the hype exceeding the content of the movie. And 8 Oscars was more than I could digest. A friend of mine put it perfectly when she sniggeringly told me, “This is just an outbreak of sympathy for Mumbai because of the terror attacks. Otherwise 8 Oscars for dirt, dust, grime, poverty and maimed beggars just doesn’t make sense.” Befuddled as I was while watching the award ceremony, I too felt she may be a tad bit right. Americans chose a Afro-African President who was sworn in just about a month ago, so an underdog story seems to be the perfect way to compliment the choice of Americans, the Oscar committee must’ve felt.
I am just glad I wasn’t having this conversation with my friend on the local train, else I may too have been called unpatriotic. Such intolerant are the times in which we live.
Image Credit: Ishane