Author Topic: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?  (Read 5059 times)

Zastrozzi

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Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« on: February 04, 2009, 01:42:43 AM »
Some see the improbable tale of a boy from a Mumbai slum who makes it to game-show stardom as a hackneyed postcard of the worst of India, a film obsessed with the filth of the shantytowns, religious riots and brutal police. They say it shows none of the new India – “India Shining,” in the words of a slogan used in the last election and it relies on outdated clichés. Others say that's a parochial defensiveness ... for a fine bit of cinema, and who cares that it was made by Britain's Danny Boyle?
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...plenty of people have found reason to protest. A community group filed public-interest legislation in Gujarat to try to stop the film from being shown because, the lawsuit alleges, it portrays slum-dwellers badly. Hindu fundamentalist political parties have organized pickets outside multiplexes showing the film, which they say depicts the Hindu god Ram in a negative light. Most such protests have been peaceful, although one, in Goa last week, saw members of the powerful nationalist Hindu group Shiv Sena trash a theatre. In Chandigarh, slum residents led by the Vishva Hindu Parishad, a Hindu group, protested the film based on its title.

“The name of the film depicts the sick mentality of Britishers,” scowled spokesman Vijay Singh Bhardwaj. “Even so many years after independence, the mindsets of English people have not changed towards Indians.” ...

[Pallavi] Chandrasekar, a 19-year-old political science student, disapproved of the film. “They showed the bad side. They're not showing what's really true.” But her friend Daphne Vallado, 19 and taking commerce, disagreed. “People think that because India is doing all this back-office work there is a boom and everyone is prospering. But we have so many people that it's not enough. There are not enough jobs, and the film showed the reality many people are living in,” she said.
I still haven't seen the film, but as someone mentioned elsewhere, it's quite possible that it can be exaggerated and escapist (as many great movies are) while at the same time depicting a reality that some would rather paper over.

Oh, and this is nitpicking, but Danny Boyle as a "British" director? I would've thought that in a story on a topic like this, Boyle's nationality would be relevant, particularly as a director in one of whose films a character says
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I hate being Scottish. We’re the lowest of the fucking low, the scum of the earth, the most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some people hate the English, but I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. We can’t even pick a decent culture to be colonized by. We are ruled by effete arseholes. It’s a shite state of affairs and all the fresh air in the world will not make any fucking difference….

Mandos

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2009, 01:52:07 AM »
I haven't seen the movie but I am deeply suspicious of Indian (Hindu) nationalists who proclaim things like "India Shining."  It is to note that that kind of thing is precisely (and mercifully) cost the BJP the election the last time around.  The VHP is part of the fascist background of the BJP front, and anything that annoys them raises my estimation of it.  Shiv Sena is responsible for the deaths of many Bombay Muslims.  

Colonialist it may or may not be but frankly I prefer that to Sangh Parivar fascists.

deBeauxOs

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2009, 10:01:15 AM »
Carry on.   :popcorn

Mandos

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2009, 10:32:57 AM »
Well, to carry on, there is a growing class of marginally wealthy people in India who believe that because they got a little more wealthy via Bangalore tech companies and call centers that India as a whole is significantly different from what it was way back when.  And because they suffer from the "wannabe" syndrome that drives a lot of Indian policy (in ways that eg China is not driven), they deeply resent being told otherwise.

Sure, I have seen gleaming glassy office towers in Madras.  It's a symbol of idiocy because it is creating a greenhouse inside the building in an equatorial city that must be fixed via massive air conditioning.

But half of India's population is still rural and poor, and there is a huge quantity of urban poverty too.  Many of the poor have cell phones.  So what?

deBeauxOs

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2009, 11:19:07 AM »
Just being a nosy busy-body here but I have to ask.  Why haven't you seen 'Slumdog Millionaire yet?

Mandos

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2009, 11:21:56 AM »
Too busy.  The last time I saw a movie I saw it with someone who had already seen Slumdog Millionaire, so we saw Gran Torino instead.  Which is actually a good movie too, I was surprised at how much I liked it.

Antonia

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2009, 01:04:13 PM »
I saw it, twice. LOVED IT. Despite the contrived plot, everything about it was enthralling. I have never seen an audience so glued to its seat during credits -- dead silence at the end before rousing applause.

I think it conveys very well the changes in India. That's one of the points of the film.

Also, I have found myself on the phone way too much lately with Sympatico tech support in India -- various cities, including the hometown of the music composer -- and they all say they're dying to see it, that the controversy is overplayed, yada yada.

Finally, I have found that, whenever ''whitey'' (sorry can't come up with something better) does a film about some other culture, there's always ''controversy.'' Greeks up in arms about Alexander being portrayed as gay/bisexual, for example. It's like they think, finally we have the attention, this better show us to be perfect and according to our myths.

Puh-leeze.
It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. It is when we all play safe that fatality will lead us to our doom. It is in the "dark shade of courage" alone that the spell can be broken.
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deBeauxOs

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2009, 02:18:06 PM »
Alexander was Greek?  I heard that he was *really* a Macedonian.   :twisted:

Mandos

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2009, 02:30:05 PM »
Well, he was a Hellenistic Macedonian rather than a Slav.

deBeauxOs

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2009, 02:39:36 PM »
Sectarist!   :mrgreen:

Antonia

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2009, 03:01:09 PM »
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Greeks up in arms about Alexander being portrayed as gay/bisexual, for example. It's like they think, finally we have the attention, this better show us to be perfect and according to our myths.

hey, i never called him Greek

 :P
It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. It is when we all play safe that fatality will lead us to our doom. It is in the "dark shade of courage" alone that the spell can be broken.
-- Dag Hammarskjöld

BCseawalker

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2009, 03:46:41 PM »
Saw the movie. Fantastic. Sent the link to Daphne. She loved it too.

Toedancer

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2009, 04:28:11 PM »
The kid loved it too, mom go see it!
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

Mandos

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2009, 01:03:53 AM »
Well, I saw it, and I really did like it.  So, there's no real way to make a movie about poor people without being just a little bit exploitative, but it a pretty good job of showing the slums both as an unpleasant place to live, but one in which people can and do live lives worth living.  Except, of course, for the communal violence that rocks Bombay Muslims periodically and destroyed the lives of Jamal and Salim.  It did a realistic show of the changes in India, and I enjoyed the bizarre attempt at making the Indian call centre workers sound Just Like Your Neighbour In Britain, to the point of having classes with updates about "local" news so the call centre workers can talk about the British cities as though they lived there.  And Jamal's "Loch Big Ben".  ;)

I think the main metaphor of the movie was captured when Jamal-the-child, trapped in the latrine, has to jump into the pit to make his escape.  He emerges triumpantly, covered in excrement, but holding the picture of real-life film star Amitabh Bachhan (I'm told he disliked the movie) high up.  And I was biting my nails during Latika's race to the cell phone.

So, I liked it.

Here is a music video of A. R. Rahman's "Jai Ho" ("Long Live" or "To your victory"), the credits song for the movie.  There are some spoiler images, but Rahman really is a musical genius.  The song is in Urdu and Spanish (the spoken chant in the middle is in Spanish).

[youtube:29p6u144]9iZtZLKFBoo[/youtube:29p6u144]

Âja âja jindé shamiyané ké taléhé, âja zarívalé nílé asmân ké taléhé...

lagatta

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Re: Slumdog Millionaire: critical, colonialist, or escapist?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2009, 09:17:27 AM »
Mandos, were these groups:

 "The VHP is part of the fascist background of the BJP front, and anything that annoys them raises my estimation of it. Shiv Sena is responsible for the deaths of many Bombay Muslims"

involved in the horrific pogrom of Muslims in Guujarat?
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

 

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