A Response to the Reactions of the Press in India
A Response to the Reactions of the Press in India on the much acclaimed film Slumdog Millionaire and my response to it.
Slumdog Millionaire, A Poster
Credit: Flickr.com/Cine Fanatico
© Flickr.com/Cine Fanatico
A Scene from the Picture
Slumdog Millionaire Team at the Oscars
Credit: Flickr.com/Nighi Network
© Flickr.com/Nighi Network
Much has been said and written on the film 'Slumdog Millionaire". But, there are some ill-conceived opinion raised against this, much-appreciated film. One thing is sure that we accrued a wonderful position in the international film world.
In this write-up I would like to bring out some of the opinions aired by some intellects in the Indian press and my feedback to them.
The Times of India, The largest circulated English daily in India and abroad in their editorial on Feb 24th under the title "So, Take That" wrote "let's put our hands together for the movie's astounding Oscar success, and let's not quibble over the issue of whether it's Indian, British or international". (Times of India editorial) Read full editorial visit this link: www.timesofindia.com That was a fitting tribute to the Slumdog Millionaire crew.
But unfortunately few in the media had pessimistic feelings towards the film; Times of India's opinion stood apart. No doubt, it was in an entirely different taste and was really a fitting accolade to the entire team. I believe that, it was a great tribute in itself. They said it all in the intro, "let's put our hands together for the movie's astounding Oscar success, and let's not quibble over the issue of whether it's Indian, British or international".
Yes, Our artists, the entire team, especially A R Rehman, Gulzar, Resul Pookutty are to be appreciated for their contribution for the success of this film. Unfortunately many, especially in the film and literature world could not digest the success of this film.
Here is a local daily's nauseating Headline on the subject-the day after the award function. It is very sad to say that this local newspaper in Secunderabad (My city) captioned their main news's headline as; "Rehman is top dog". This title was shocking to the people in twin city of Secunderabad and Hyderabad. Many raised their voice against their decision to tarnish the image of the artist. The next day's edition there appeared an apology letter from the editor on the front page of the paper. This type of ill-conceived mentality is not at all good for Indian journalist and journalism.
On the other side, The Sunday Indian Weekly (The only News Weekly on earth in 14 languages) to read more about this weekly visit this link: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/681941/a_weekly_in_13_languages_a_unique_happening.html ) in its cover story titled ("Why We Must Condemn SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE Because The Movie...
A). INSULTS INDIA B). DENIGRATES HINDUISM
C). DISTORTS REALITY D). ALL OF THE ABOVE") and the editorial titled "Don't see "Slumdog Millionaire". It Sucks!" A Phony poseur that has been made only to mock India for the viewing pleasure of the first world!! (TSI 8th Feb.2009). Its Chief Editor Prof. Arindam Choudhury wrote and here are some highlights: "The real slumdog in the movie is not the main protagonist but India as a whole". "It shows everything negative about India, excepting Western paedophiles roaming here" Read more on this link: www.arindamchaudhuri.blogspot.com or www.thesundayindian.com
I posted the following letter in response to the TSI's editorial and other stories and it appeared as the first letter (in print edition) under the caption:
"POVERTY SELLS TOO".
Sir, "Your cover story, Editorial and Musings (TSI Feb 2-8) made a sickening reading. Along with the universal truth of "Sex sells," "poverty sells" too occupied a prominent place. As the 'Musings' columnist pointed out, most of the best selling and award winning novels and literary pieces, created by Indian writers living abroad, portrayed India's poverty in a bad shape and procured accolades and dollars, and the same has been repeated in "Slumdog Millionaire". We can't blame one Danny Boyle for this; we ourselves are to be blamed. As Prasoon Majumdar said, "we do not have a proper platform to portray the real emerging shining India in our nation." In such a situation, a writer or a film producer definitely looks at where it's available and insult India, denigrate religion, distorts reality and portray it for their profits. This is nothing but a business tactic; being done by our people. Who is to be blamed for this lack, remains a big question".
To read more visit this link: www.thesundayindian.com click to DEAR EDITOR button.
Yet another interesting opinion aired by the Booker prizewinner Indian born writer Salman Rushdie. He calls "Slumdog millionaire unrealistic" (A news report in Times of India). It is very interesting to hear this statement from a reputed writer like Salman. No film producers, except the documentary producers cannot claim their depictions are real. Even Salman's own products (including the price winning ones) are not realistic. Films and fictions can never be realistic instead; it will be a mixture of both.
Mr. Vinod Mehta the Chief Editor of Outlook Weekly (Yet another largest circulated English weekly in India and abroad) wrote:
"At the risk of sounding like a party-pooper, may I inject a note of realism into the wild celebrations accompanying Slumdog Millionaire's victory at the Oscars? I yield to no one in my admiration for the film, its cast, its audacity, its screenplay, its sympathetic portrayal of the lovely kids of Dharavi. In the early '70s, the late Louis Malle made a documentary for the BBC called Phantom India. The documentary won numerous awards but was banned by the government because it told the truth, i.e. showed how desperately poor and wretched and unequal the country was. Before that and since, the middle class has been extraordinarily sensitive to Indian poverty being showcased to "foreigners" for awards." Recall Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali, down to Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger... at the concluding line he wrote:
"I too celebrate the success of Slumdog Millionaire. Pity about the slums". Read more on this link: www.outlookindia.com under the caption "OPINION. A Slum Is A Slum"
Most of the critics' main blame against this much-accoladed film is that, they projected Indian poverty and amassed awards and wealth. This is not a new trend in India. As Mr. Vinod Mehta said, "Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali, down to Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger..." The Indian film producers, the media and the Indian abroad authors through their films, resources and literatures projected India's poverty and earned money and accolades. This is a trend since India's independence. India's poverty projection is not new to the Indian film producers or writers and then how can we blame one Danny Boyle for this?
The film's Director Danny Boyle and the Co-Director Loveleen Tandon bagged 8 Oscar awards in different categories and occupied the fourth place in most Oscar winning film. This film also bagged many other most prestigious awards like Golden Globe award (presumed to be a mini Oscar award), The London Critics Film Award (the award for British Film of the Year 2009) are some of the few among them.
One cannot understand why the so-called intellectuals and celebrities make a big outcry after a much acclaimed and superb masterpiece, which could win laurels in the international film world for India.
My heartfelt Congrats to the Director Donny Boyle, co-director Loveleen Tandan, A R Rehman, Resul Pookutty, Gulzar and the entire team of "Slumdog Millianaire" END
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