Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Mumbai slums. Rabid fundamentalist Hindu mobs butcher poor Muslims. Miraculously, a few kids escape. Orphaned. The kids go through the worst possible rackets - child prostitution, kids who are made beggars in the most heart wrenching and diabolical manner (eyes removed, etc). Sweet justice when the kid knows all the answers and wins a million. Add a girl to the mix.

Are Hindus Fundamentalist - YES
Are Muslims victims  - YES
Do all evils exist in India - YES
Are Hindus responsible for these evils - YES
Will there be just retribution for the crimes commited by Hindus - YES

18 comments:

archana said...

Does poverty have a religion? Do slums have religion? What does religion mean in slums? Is there a separate Muslim-slum and a hindu-slum? Do hindu-slum dwellers have better amenities and chances at living, compared to the Muslim-slum dwellers?

What are the official and un-official numbers of death due to hunger, compared to the accidents on Mumbai roads or religious(?)-mob-related riots?

Did the movie talk about muslim slum-dwellers? Does the fact that the girl's name is hindu (Latika, meaning 'Elegant') change the way the movie is looked at?

యోగి said...

http://www.deeshaa.org/2009/02/25/slumlord-billionaire/

"Slums are one of the many visible consequence of extreme urban poverty. Poverty is one of the most predictable consequence of failed economic policies. Economic policies are dictated by governments. India has been governed by Congress governments (or Congress led governments) for most of its existence.

The above argument validates the Congress-led UPA government’s claim that it is responsible for the making of the movie — however indirectly.

People at the helm of the various governments of India have over the decades made tens of billions of dollars and created the conditions for over half a billion people to have to survive in less than a dollar a day. The governments of India are really slumlord billionaires. "

"I propose that the next blockbuster movie be titled “Slumlord Billionaire“. You do the casting. "

yogijp said...

Did the movie talk about muslim slum-dwellers?

Thats what they choose to show. Consent is manufactured by suggestions and subtle messages. Information is rarely direct and straightforward.

Foe eg: Iraq war and TV analysts: http://idlinginc.blogspot.com/2008/04/behind-tv-analysts-pentagons-hidden.html

http://www.answers.com/topic/manufacturing-consent-noam-chomsky-and-the-media

What are the official and un-official numbers of death due to hunger, compared to the accidents on Mumbai roads or religious(?)-mob-related riots?

Not much, we can safely ignore mobs. The world runs on emotions. Terrorism/mobs, have have high emotional, thereby entertainment value. Who'd want to look at hunger deaths? Its just a number.

Does the fact that the girl's name is hindu (Latika, meaning 'Elegant') change the way the movie is looked at?

Muslims will eventually get all Hindu women?

archana said...

Why are so many expectations laid on a 2-3 hour piece of art+entertainment called a 'movie'?

Does it truly depict the callous state of affairs? YES.

Does it depict the problems orphan kids run into? YES.

Does it depict the way of lives in slums? YES.

Does it show how a typical interrogation occurs, with no proper grounds for warrant or arrest by the law enforcement? YES.

Does it show the modern 'call centers' and how crowded the workplaces are? YES.

Does it show the state of public schools? (with the kids parroting away 3 musketeers!) YES.

Does it truly depict the tourism industry and what the foreign visitors actually get to see? YES.

Was it right to pick Dev Patel for the lead role (given he is not Indian born)? YES.
(Any Indian born would shy away from speaking his mind on David Letterman's show, because a population of 100 crores would expect him to uphold their self-respect).

Does the movie give an apt comparison between Muslim and Hindu populations and how they co-exist? NO.

Is it a big deal that the lead roles are a Muslim guy and a Hindu girl? ---- What is wrong with that?

Will muslims eventually get all Hindu women? ---- Irrelevant Question. Individual choice. Women (hopefully) get to make that choice.

I would give the movie, the cast, crew, story and everything else a 100 points and an A+.

No single movie can give ALL the information. It can at best be a small glimpse into the psyche and state of a habitat(country) in a small time-frame.

Indian government, Indian citizens and Indian media did not fund the movie's making or advertising. Hence, what has been shown and what people conclude from it is widely open to the discretion of viewers.

యోగి said...

llyg"Was it right to pick Dev Patel for the lead role (given he is not Indian born)? YES.
(Any Indian born would shy away from speaking his mind on David Letterman's show, because a population of 100 crores would expect him to uphold their self-respect)"

Did Danny Boyle knew that this kid will be featured in David Letterman's show when he selected him? Even if he did, why would he care about the self respect of 100 crore Indians? :)

I will tell you what he cares about - Money. There is nothing wrong with it.

A good businessman packs his product well.. with things that sell.

Anti 'Hindu'(read pro minority), poverty, slums, underdog winning, 'love'. Its just a movie, well packed, intelligently marketed. Thats it.

archana said...

Did the movie talk about muslim slum-dwellers?

Thats what they choose to show. Consent is manufactured by suggestions and subtle messages. Information is rarely direct and straightforward.

Re:
The movie's backdrop is city of Mumbai, homeground to many world-famous people like Dawood and Shakeel... It is quite possible that the writer wanted to throw some light on why mafias and terrorism survive in the city of slums... and what the breeding grounds are.

The movie makers and marketers dont make tall claims on religious grounds or secular grounds.

archana said...

Dev Patel's choice for lead role:

Even if it was a "Blessing by accident", it was a good one.

The 18-yr old kid can go to sleep without the fear of religious mobs or pride-protectors-of-India attacking him.

How much security cover was provided to Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala after the movie 'Bombay', and how many death threats did the actress receive? How many national or local media interviews did the two artists attend without fear, where they truly spoke their mind (instead of parroting away the input from marketing team?)

yogijp said...


The movie makers and marketers dont make tall claims on religious grounds or secular grounds.


The message is subtle. Mobs are not made of the brightest kids on the block.

yogijp said...

How much security cover was provided to Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala after the movie 'Bombay', and how many death threats did the actress receive?

They are both still alive. I guess sufficient or more than necessary.

yogijp said...

Does poverty have a religion? Do slums have religion?

Religion is neither a property of poverty (measured by income) nor aslum (a specific geographic area in cities).


What does religion mean in slums? Is there a separate Muslim-slum and a hindu-slum? Do hindu-slum dwellers have better amenities and chances at living, compared to the Muslim-slum dwellers?

The film choose to show that muslim slum dwellers are butchered and their kids orphaned BY hindu mobs.

yogijp said...

No single movie can give ALL the information.
Nothing can give all information. I'm only commenting on what they choose to present.

yogijp said...


Does it truly depict the callous state of affairs? YES.

Does it depict the problems orphan kids run into? YES.

Does it depict the way of lives in slums? YES.

Does it show how a typical interrogation occurs, with no proper grounds for warrant or arrest by the law enforcement? YES.

Does it show the modern 'call centers' and how crowded the workplaces are? YES.

Does it show the state of public schools? (with the kids parroting away 3 musketeers!) YES.

Does it truly depict the tourism industry and what the foreign visitors actually get to see? YES.

I'm not debating those. I reserve the right to, at a later point. :)

archana said...

The film choose to show that muslim slum dwellers are butchered and their kids orphaned BY hindu mobs.

City of Bombay--- Year 1992. Dongri Riots-- Phase 1, Muslim attacks as a backlash to Ayodhya. A Week after the backlash, the hindu attacks took place.

Dongri riots happened, the movie didn't lie about it.

The lead roles are by muslim orphans and hindu orphans. In the context of the movie, it centered more around the kid Jamal and he happens to belong to a community that was attacked by the hindu mobs. Had they taken some footage and another sad-sob-story on how latika was orphaned, would the justice be served?

In the entire movie of 120 mins, the riots took a small screen time of less than 30 seconds.

Riots: happened. They are a truth.

The orphans from those riots would be exactly of ages 16-24 by the time KBC was being aired in India in 2000.

A 2-D picture captures only a frame, not the whole. And what was captured was not LIES.

If my backyard is filthy and the local TV channel happens to air it, can I sue the channel for showing my backyard under the open sky to the whole world? NO.

Why did the makers not choose to elaborate on the subject of religion? It was not their main point of interest.

By the year 2000, what proportion of orphans in the city were displaced from their homes due to riots (Slum-dwellers and middle-class kids alike)? Many. I can bet it is a very large proportion of the whole.

Hence, showing riots as a reason for the kids becoming orphans is not wrong from a historic and factual perspectives.

If this movie is failing in capturing another perspective, all those people are more than welcome to pool money and resources and make another movie and air it around the whole world.

This is a story on a rags-to-riches transition. The makers and cast-crew own the movie. They wanted to show the world something.

While all viewers (incl. mobs) have their rights to conclude whatever they want to from it, the movie makers also have the right to hold on to the footage.


Does anyone have concrete evidence that a muslim backlash on hindu population was not removed from the movie by the "Censor board of India"? May be a figment of my imagination, but... it is quite possible that there was government intervention that distorted the original message.


While you reserve the rights to disagree and continue with critical analysis, what is shown on screen is not completely FREE (as content and screenplay are verymuch subject to censor).

yogijp said...


it is quite possible that there was government intervention that distorted the original message.


Quite possible. Indeed!

yogijp said...


While you reserve the rights to disagree and continue with critical analysis.

I am not disagreeing, everyone is correct from their vantage point. You would have access to some information which I don't. There is no objective/neutral way to look at things. The way we look at things is structured on the background information we hold. We have to localize where we are disagreeing. Thats the whole point of conversation. :)

yogijp said...

and.. suppose there are still disagreements on what it right..

..with all these differences/disagreements, we can still watch this movie together and enjoy it.. can't we?

We don't necessarily have to enjoy it the exact same way!

if we enjoy it the exact same way, life would be quite boring! there would be never any playful discussion/debate. Id would be as if I am living with a clone of myself! :(

archana said...

and.. suppose there are still disagreements on what it right..

..with all these differences/disagreements, we can still watch this movie together and enjoy it.. can't we?

We don't necessarily have to enjoy it the exact same way!


if we enjoy it the exact same way, life would be quite boring! there would be never any playful discussion/debate. It would be as if I am living with a clone of myself! :(


This coment sounds like the author is asking me out on a movie-date. I would have asked will there be popcorn... but, in this case, I reject.

Ravi said...

right on, JP!
Here is an interesting idea for the slumdog movie makers. Since Jamal officially can have 4 wives without any regrets, they can mint money by making 3 more slumdog sequels and fill their movies with heart touching warmth of fivesome romantic scenes. And finally we will win another dozen oscars and we can loan some of those figurines to pak and bangladesh as a gesture of goodwill.