Well I am feeling stuffed, tensed and choked again. As I opened the TV, it was flooded with the news of 8 Oscars the movie Slumdog Millionaire has won. My God! The whole country has gone crazy!!...People have proved that there are only two religions in India– movies and cricket. By the way, except for AR Rehman’s and Pookutty's awards, what exactly do we have for celebration? Their awards are for their own technical skill apart from the story. Only these can be called the ones truly bagged by Indians. Otherwise, what are we so excited that we are celebrating... for the parade of our country’s black side to the rest of the world? What are we so proud of? Should we really do so?
But my point is, making money and popularity by showcasing our penury is definitely not digestible. This movie has shown all the poverty and distress in details to outside world giving the ‘real’ picture of India. Agreed, we have slums, we are still juggling with penury and hunger, but then does even the USA not have its own slums, its dens of crime? There are a lot many countries worse off than India. And India has brighter faces as well.
Similar is the case with 2008 Man Booker Prize winning book ‘The White Tiger’ by Arvind Adiga. The very concept is strange prima facie; the protagonist, a slum urchin rises all the way through all possible means including robbery and murder to become a white collar entrepreneur. Then he writes to the Chinese Premier giving graphic details of his ‘successful rise’ as well as of the countryside’s dark life. It might seem interesting for the foreigners, but for us the stark realities of slums are everyday sights. And other countries don’t have better or no slums. We don’t need entire (and so depressing) book to understand it.
Slumdog Millionaire is not Indian but a British movie shot in India and was released here later. Lovleen Tondon, the assistant director was roped in to get the local flavor. Even the lead actor Dev Patel is out and out an NRI.
Also, an amazing movie like Tare Zameen Pe (TZP) was packed home. I feel TZP showed how cinema can be used as a powerful medium to the benefit of the society and changed the way every parent, teacher and even our sleepy government looked at the school children. The government actually made amendments in the existing rules to give dyslexic kids half an hour extra in Boards.
We have a mental block that ‘west’ means ‘best’ and crave for its approval for our best. I strongly feel Oscars are over hyped. We need to shun chasing them and maintain our self confidence. Though India has gained independence long back, we still continue to be mental slaves to the white skin.