Ok so I can’t let the Slumdog debate go. I fully predict that its reaction in India will slow down its award-winning momentum. However I don’t think that Hollywood is going to care what a bunch of angry Indians are saying about the movie forced upon them as a representation of their country. And make no mistake the Indians are mad:
Arindam Chaudhuri, in his blog Passionate About India says simply “Don’t See Slumdog Millionaire.” It Sucks! He goes on to give a blazing bull-whipping (oops no pun intended) to his fellow Indians who have embraced the Western embrace of the film.
“It stinks of racial arrogance and it’s such a shame now on second thought to see the Indian faces – including that of the undoubted master, AR Rahman – celebrating its success. There is nothing positive about the film and it seems that a deranged sadist has painted his insecure negative self in each and every character of the movie.”
Whew. He’s mad. And let’s not forget famous Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan who wrote on his blog: “if SM projects India as [a] third-world, dirty, underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations.”
But what does it matter? So what India doesn’t like the movie? Just as Americans shy away of movies made about slavery – no matter how redemptive – why wouldn’t Indians despise this depiction of their country?
I don’t think this is just an example of a film not market testing. It’s a prime example of the cavalier attitude Westerners have of cultures not aligned with theirs. The very fact that director Danny Boyle just “thought up” the title without the desire to consult anyone to see if it may be offensive just shows Western arrogance. I mean what would happen if I made a film entitled “Empty Englishmen?”
I think India has a poverty problem. I think India needs to deal with that poverty problem. But I also think unless Westerners see beyond their narrow eyes and understand that we’re in a global society now and not just a society through the Westerner’s lens we won’t be able to help countries like India heal its poveryt problems.