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Slums, Dogs, and Poverty February 20, 2009

Posted by Sai in Articles, Movies.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Slumdog Millionaire poverty porn? Is Danny Boyle shooting for an Oscar riding on the popularity of sensationalist, poverty-ridden images? These questions are being heard often in the Indian media and a bit in the West and everybody has an opinion.

Here’s what disgusts me about the whole thing. Slow, witless, ignorant, simpleminded imbeciles like composer Aadesh Shrivastava and their moronic opinions.

Mark Twain said something to the effect of “It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt”. This applies to Aadesh. I quote his words from a BollywoodHungama story and follow up with my thoughts.

“They’ve started calling Indians ‘ slumdogs’, just like ‘coolie’ was a gaali in Britain”
I don’t know which streets he is walking in but in my streets it still seems like we are the brainy folk who are capturing jobs.

“Does Danny Boyle know what Bachchan Saab means to us Indians? Who would dare approach him like that?”
A starstruck slum kid who does not know what “Bachchan Saab” means to “us Indians” would dare to approach him like that. By the way, I also don’t know what “Bachchan Saab” means to “us Indians”.

“Even I can make a film on child prostitution and pedophilia. But it won’t get Oscars because I am not a gora”
I am not sure that you can make a film at all, let alone a film about pedophilia and prostitution. Even if you do, you won’t get Oscars or Filmfares or even your apartment association’s awards because you are a dimwit. Oscars are awards by and for the goras; don’t covet or bother about those awards.

“What f…k right does the director have to show Mumbai as a slum? Now we are considered a slum city in all parts of the world. Humlog kahin mooh dikhane laayak nahin rahe.”
Was Mumbai depicted only as a slum? Were the tall buildings, vehicles and the millions a part of another city? Can one movie really change people’s opinions the world over? And most importantly, why can’t you show your face to anyone if you are thought to be from a slum? Why?

What the f*** is wrong with poverty? For the life of me, I cannot understand why people are terrified of being considered poor. Sure, it is a hard life and you wouldn’t want to live in poverty after being born with a silver or even a steel spoon in your mouth. But why do some (or many?) individuals look down on poverty? Why don’t they want to be talked about in the same breath as poor people? Why do they feel ashamed to acknowledge the existence of poverty and their own countrymen living in such conditions? And doesn’t poverty exist in other countries? While Danny Boyle is in love with the spirit of these slum dwellers and how they get on with life despite innumerable problems, some of “us Indians” apparently don’t consider it a life at all.

And do I really care if some American looks down upon India/Mumbai due to a partly misconstrued image as a poor country? No. Or would I care if some Englishman finds song and dance routines in Indian films silly? No. No. Why don’t people respect themselves first before craving the respect of someone else? And don’t “us Indians” look down upon some foreigners for what we correctly or incorrectly believe to be their shortcomings? Am I missing something here?

The media attention this is getting is not unexpected from people who are invested in sensationalism rather than news (and I am sure there aren’t too many who notice the difference anyway). But Mumbai’s slum dwellers protesting against a Hollywood film for what they think is a comparison of their lives to that of a dog (even if it is considered man’s best friend) is a bit too much. How does it really matter to them what a foreigner thinks or calls them when their own countrymen, like Aadesh, think they cannot even show their faces to anyone if they are considered to be from a slum? Is that acceptable?

Slum dwellers don’t want to be compared to dogs. Aadesh Shrivastava doesn’t want to be associated with slums. What will we see next? Dogs protesting the association with slum dwellers??


1. Shujath - February 20, 2009

So absolutely true!!!

I am so sick of hearing those dumb arguments and protests again and again. It would have been okay if atleast those arguments were tolerably stupid but it seemed to have crossed all limits.

Though I haven’t followed any of these stories on TV, I remember one memorable talk show on a news channel when some lady (some prominent social activist) said she had only simple question to nail Danny Boyle with – “Why did you depict those boys living in slums rather than mansions????”

I think you made a very important point when you said

“And don’t “us Indians” look down upon some foreigners for what we correctly or incorrectly believe to be their shortcomings?”

Before cribbing about how others view “us Indians” it would do good for “us Indians” to to have a look about how we depict others (in cinema or otherwise)

2. vallabh - February 21, 2009

It was fun to read your take on this issue. Couldn’t agree more.

On another take, how many of those slum dwellers would have spent their little savings to go watch this foreign flick to have an educated opinion? Very close to none. Most likely not even one of those protestors would have watched it either. They might rather be paid or, even worse, baited by people like Tapeshwar Vishwakarma for their own growth. I highly doubt his humanity (if there is any such).

In all protests and controversies such as this, there is always a person or a group that initiates the process and doesn’t give a rats a** to anything else other than one’s benefits (may be monetory or political or just a desire to be on the media). And media makes it all possible. So let’s just layback, laugh at such overrated controversies and wait until RGV’s RANN hits the screen.

In the light of these irrational controversies and your foresight…

Disclaimer: Any reference to an animal or it’s a** is used wholly to accentuate the meaning of the sentenfce and does not mean any disregard to the animal or it’s a**.

3. vallabh - February 23, 2009

In fact, I am wondering if we have been aiding these controversies by discussing them. No matter what stance we take on this issue, people who read this will most likely read and watch more about this sensation. Thus the viewer count, advertisements, profits and the pressure on reporters for such reports will increase… leadig to another idiotic controversy. There are too many gullible citizen who couldn’t put their brains to actual use and look down upon these money mongering news reporting organizations and their supporters.

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