slumdog millionaire ? slam dung india ?

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i went in second guessing what to expect. exaggeration and snapshots of stereotypes of India:

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.poverty. slums. child beggars. prostitution. syndicates. call centres.
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oh, yes! call centres. the so-called western favour to India for modernising India. for providing Indians with decent jobs. for placing India at the centre stage of the IT revolution! NOT!
anyways don’t get me rattling about the quality of graduates from IIT, and let’s get back to :
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slumdog millionaire

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so, in that aspect of managing my expectation i was there. nonetheless, mulling over the movie now, i have trouble accepting many of the stereotypes. i am not denying that the portrayal is inaccurate but its just that India is beautiful. diverse. complex. and rightly there should be a more balance view.

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in particular, i was disgusted frankly by two things:
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#1-

the abuse of the NGOs name.
this refers to the scene where the “welfare” van was actually a child beggars syndicate transportation.
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i mean, why the need to stretch this to the extreme?
surely, kids who are looking for polythene in a landfill (which is also their home) that fetches 10 paise each with limited education (as portrayed in the film) would not have known, read or comprehend the paintwork on the van.
this bring me to the question of: whose benefit was that for?
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i am upset as this conscious act to mislead and sensationalize the movie for increased ticket sales and Oscar nominations could have further pushed the lives of the real people deeper into the doldrums.
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see, a simple, careless and thoughtless act such as this can erode the confidence and credibility of some REAL NGOs that are making real contributions to the lives of these homeless street kids. NGOs that have made inroads and progress in such a brutal and harsh environment like India which should have the rest of the world ashamed of for not even being able to match, such as Youth Reach was ignored. bad enough none of the NGOs or social workers in India were given any air time – i guess it would spoil the plot and story line – but… to make such a suggestive innuendo is irresponsible and callous.

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#2-

the mocking and derogatory manner in which the host of the show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” treats the character Jamal.
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what was that? flashback of colonialism? of rajahs? of a caste system in which the taboo of the ‘untouchables’ still exists?
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look my friends. i’m sorry to shatter your twisted fascination and draw (if any) towards characters in novels by famous mainstream India novelist who are yet again receipients of westerned nominated and won bookers prizes, but India is NO longer a country of caste. of class. frankly i wonder which part of Bollywood inspired Mr. Boyle to produce such a portrayal of fascism and ill breed behaviour …
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on the plus side, i met my primary objective of finally (i hope) making mom understand the importance of getting street kids off the streets. giving them a life line. a chance to get out of the cycle. understanding what poverty is to a large extend. and orientating her before she makes her maiden trip to India. see, mom’s not exactly naive or elitist. but i don’t think anyone really gets it unless they have lived it. even, having worked for this cause, i am far from truly understanding it. {read here}.
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the movie also re jogged my memory as to why i started what i do. and stirred emotions, drive and belief all over again for me on a personal level. unabashedly i am the first to admit that i have been flirting with feelings of helplessness, disillusions and anger in the last quarter of 2008; having reassessed progress made and personal struggles and pain i had endured as a result of having friends and love ones that have devoted their lives covering conflict and humanitarian issues.

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from a pure movie perspective, i love the cinematography. the tight control of the characters and story telling despite the juxtaposition infused. the gamut of emotions it inflicted not only on the characters but myself. the uplifting feelgood effect. the surreal only-in-Bollywood-against-all-odds-love. plus the cheeky dance routine as the credit rolls! clever.
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and… and, and …oh, the unknown cast – Dev Patel!!! {sorry guys, gimme a break for liking dorky for once! enough of macho journalist and photojournalist for a fleeting moment, ok? (wink)}
{best laugh is still this one – and Amitabh Bachchan is without doubt sexier with age}

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8 thoughts on “slumdog millionaire ? slam dung india ?

  1. hey Vijay! Been thinking of you on and off. We don’t seem to be ‘catching’ each other much for a long time and hence we haven’t caught up on a lot. I’ll attempt to drop you a line soon. Hope all is well. Send my regards to your brother and ahem you know who if you guys are still together.Cheers!

  2. This made me smile! There is a lot written about it, so I won’t touch upon this.But May I suggest ” Salaam Bombay”. Do watch it if you can grab one. Perhaps the best cinematography,I’ve seen with an Indian theme. It almost like a 2-hour assortment of classic portrait shots in available light. I can’t say enough. Do watch it. Perhaps the best cinema work to come out of India and 20 years later it is still relevant. A timeless classic.

  3. Thanks for writing a balance view and sharing your feelings and thoughts. Personally, I am not going to watch it. I know I will hate parts of it so much. Was it a movie worthy of the awards? NO. There have been many much better and more profound movies out of India. The problem is the western world choses to see only the Bollywood trash of dance and fight scenes. So I guess when a western person gets acclaimed views from a ordinary escapism movie with ‘horrifying’ scenes of India, illiterate viewers fall for it and are allured by the poverty, hope, slums and underdevelopment. The British might have left the shores but we are still tainted! and let me tell you if you look at your own backyard you have the poverty, story of hope, slums and underdevelopment.Sorry, if I am a bit too strong but I cannot accept and standby or support India being ‘prostituted’.

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