“Jai Ho….” the golden words from the film Slumdog Millionaire is twinkling from the shit-holes of slums in India to the red carpets of Oscars, BAFTA ….and all rags-riches across the globe. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ – a film directed and scripted by westerns with an Indian soul, is a tale of a young orphan who rides on roller-coasters of poverty & crime, risks all for love and a shot at instant wealth as a TV game show contestant. The story seems to be revolving around a game show….but there’s another story underneath…a true love story.
With its skilled cinematography, rousing songs and a dazzling direction, the film easily swept the prestigious 8 Oscars, famous BAFTA & Golden Globe awards….its awards tally stands at an enviable 108. With a budget of $15 m the film has raked over $163 m in the box office, leaving no doubt to its success. The famous Indian maestro A R Rahman, Gulzar and Resul Pookutty winning Oscars and several Indians as its cast and crew members, the Indian film fraternity has a lot much to celebrate about. It is truly an “Indian Pride”.
Though the film surely deserves all the accolades, there are few aspects that needs to be highlighted. Many people are not getting enough of it as a ‘feel good factor’. Portrayal of developing India as a slum with kids swimming in shit-holes and poverty all around seems to be objectionable. Large section of educated people responded to it as ‘just a film….’ and should be taken as a good entertainer….nothing more.
In fact, it happens to be a film that shows Indian slums and poverty in a most depoliticized manner. It was made with a callow mindset to draw the negative side of India for the pleasure of western audience. The western desperation to think of India so vacuously couldn’t have been much better. It feels great for west to see this side of India and heartily awards well. Today, they believe India is a land of slumdogs who are turning millionaires by their destiny rather than hard work. That is the power of well made, well marketed film and is the new brand image of India that it has been able to create.
Finally, I would like to say that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is like a coin with head and tail as its two faces, which is to be tossed. If it turns out to be head – you see ‘Indian Pride’ and if you get tail – you witness the new image of India i.e. ‘Indian Shame’….