Sunday, March 22, 2009

Celebration of Indian Poverty ?

Hello Bloggers,

Hope this finds you all in the zenith of health !

Today, i would like to place in front of you all the debated film which lapped up 8 Academy awards last month: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

In the following feature i have interviewed some of the students in my institute for an overview of the film.

I dedicate this post to Sir Mary Das, who took the pains to edit the article. He is a senior journalist in the English Daily, " The Hindu. "

Slumdog Millionaire, the movie directed by English director, Danny Boyle is shot in India on a modest budget of $ 14 million. It traces the life of a Mumbai orphan who overcomes poverty, betrayal, police torture and other hardships on his way to a reunion with his childhood love and success on India’s version of the TV game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

The movie which lapped up 8 Oscar awards has brought with it two schools of thought. They comprise of individuals doubting and opposing the “fame” it received and on the other hand, going gaga over it.

The thrust of the skepticism from individuals related to the film industry as well as mass- audience is the portrayal of the slum life in Mumbai. Speaking on these lines, Father Jerry from Tamil Nadu, pursuing Broadcast Journalism at Niscort says that the production is a “well orchestrated movie by a team aiming at Oscars.” He goes on to explain that at recessionary times, India is a potent market for the West. He states that poverty is marketed and sold through this production.

He adds that the director very smartly roped in A.R. Rahman, an already known name in Europe and the West due to his composition in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “ Bombay Dreams ” and other ventures to make the soundtrack of the movie an international one.

Regarding the cast, he says that Dev Patel, the protagonist, is a UK based Indian who cannot relate to India. Same goes for the Heroine Freida Pinto, who has been an ‘insignificant’ actress without any acting background behind her.

Father Jerry says the real life slum child artistes being guaranteed education expenses by the director is nothing compared to the profit the production has reaped.

He says the film presents a picture of slum inhabitants being liberated. Commenting on filmmaker Priyadarshan’s point that Indian directors like Mani Ratnam in Bombay and N. Shankar in Nayak and Ram Gopal Varma in Satya had shot the slums of Mumbai comprehensively, Father Jerry says that Indian filmmakers shoot slum scenes in a different way whereas foreigners try to document India in a subtle way i.e., they let the camera say “India is a poor country.”

He labeled the story telling of Slumdog as “Oscar coated poverty i.e. they ascertain India is a poverty stricken country.” The production can be summed up as a fictionalized account of the crucial junctures in a slum dwelling boy’s life.

Dhanya Thomas , a 2nd year student of Broadcast Journalism had this to say about the production: “It is detailed and closer to life.” Resul Pookutty’s work in sound mixing brings alive the “heart beats of the slums.”

She interestingly compared the phenomenon created by Slumdog with Shimit Amin’s “Chak De India.” She says that the hockey oriented movie had thrown light on a common aspect shared by both the productions- i.e. battling the odds and emerging victorious in the game. Slumdog touches poverty and brings alive positive character of people living below poverty line, she informed.

At the same time, she believes it is not an exaggerated tale. Commenting on the Oscars it had lapped up, she opines, “It does not deserve 8 Oscars and as far as the musical score of the production goes, A.R.Rahman has executed masterpieces in movies like Roja, Bombay, Dil Se... etc.”

She finds that Boyle’s work in the movie resembles Mira Nair’s “ Salaam Bombay ” yet the latter is by far a good production.

She says “ the director is using Indian actors, Indian plots and sound mixing is well done, courtesy: Resul Pookutty.”

Now that the production has received the recognition it was aiming for, it will be interesting to see the debate over it at various levels.

Comment on your understanding of the production.

Cheers and peace to all.

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