Slumdog Millionaire is a British movie directed by a foreign director Danny Boyle who is an AcademyAward-winning British director and film producer, best known for his work on films such as Trainspotting, Sunshine, and 28 Days Later. The movie received a very warm welcome and went on to occupy the main pages of many international newspapers and received a breaking news status whenever any global awards were being announced. The final tally of the movie stands at 8 Oscars, 4 Golden Globe Awards, 58 other awards and 29 nominations.
The movie begins with a police torture, moves onto show some Hindu fanatics attacking a Muslim Slum, then shows how orphaned children are blinded to beg while girls are sent to brothels, and how the underworld here deals in murders and extortion. Finally when the credits start going to the roof, you can see the drums in a railway station, trumpets are blowing and the two words “JAI HO!!” leaking out the cinema hall. And here we are after some months, witnessing Danny Boyle embracing the Golden trophy with his hands.
It is a victory no doubt. We have no past history of any movie related to India getting such international acclaim. But was the victory really ours? A news article recently said that the Indian Government is giving millions of rupees to CNN for the “Incredible India” campaign. But the movie revealed exactly what the government wanted to hide. We all had felt it. The movie didn’t live upto our expectations. We all had felt cheated, somewhat robbed of that feeling of standing up and acknowledging the Oscars as our own. India’s path to Oscars seems to have taken a deep plunge from Lagaan to Slumdog. And while we were just nominated for one award in the past, the moment was still more felicitating than winning Oscars this year. And then starts a series of thought interruptions, of times when Aryabhatta discovered Zero, and another, of the Kohinoor Diamond snipping out from our fingers, Vedic Mathematics, Yoga all in succession, like someone “shooting thoughts with a Sniper from as far as the Past”. India has been cheated again; the only difference this time is, that we are rejoicing the fact.
With this view of the “Slumdog-India-on-air” brought in front of the world, how is it possible that for a country who has been struggling to find even one nomination for an Oscar, hits a jackpot suddenly. How is it possible all the critics of our country, who never left any chance of rebuking any goof ups in a movie, were left paralyzed over so many loopholes present in the movie. And how is it possible that for a country like ours, where sentiments are just on the verge of overflowing with processions and dharnas and burning effigies, this movie passed off scot free. The answer, would match, rhetorically, with what the old politicians tagline, “Bahri taakto ka haath hai”. A renowned director of the west and the pity-seeking imagery of the East, seems to be a perfect recipe for winning the International “Cookery Awards”. And while the actors and directors potbellied themselves with fame and glory amongst the glitterati, the “protagonist” slums rioted (quietly) in Bihar over being called Dogs. But, as they say, Barking Dogs seldom bite; they are better left unheard of.
The content of the movie seems to centre on all the possible book-marked stereotype there could have been for India. The riots, slums, open-roof toilets, children begging, police-torture, prostitution, underworld, they didn’t even leave our “Call-Centre” image for speaking out loud. The movie could well have won The Best Documentary for documenting the stereotypes of India, if not for the drama added. Nothing good could be judged about us, every scene, every shot, and every story has been shrouded so much by the depths of ignominy that it seems that the whole billion of us live in slums, steal and beg for a living, or more precisely it depicted India as “Slumdog Billionaire” in front of the world. And the fact that the movie won 8 Oscars unveils a retarded and imperialistic mindset of people who rule the world of cinema. We did walk over the red carpet that we always dreamed of, but we never in the worst of nightmares thought that we will be floored off it at the same time. The name Slumdog Millionaire is left for all to remember for ages, for us to believe (or made to) that there was a time when we finally were able to make a name in the Academy Awards, for others to muse for years over the sickness and misery that some of us are in and feel proud of what they have. And yet, we delight shamelessly over the victory, while the movie makes a despicable impersonation of our nation. As the movie depicts the scene of little Arvind being blinded, only some of us could really understand the fact that it was all of us who were being blinded, blinded by an award, blinded by the gleaming phase of hollow pride, blinded by calls of JAI HO.
It’s indeed a victory of our failures.