Thursday, January 15, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

From the Great Bong

This [..] is done through punching together as many stereotypes that Westerners have about India as is humanly possible. People live in garbage heaps. A character jumps into a huge heap of human excreta and without batting an eyelid comes running out covered in brown slime, as if its the most natural thing in India, to get an autograph of a star. The hero, a Muslim, sees his family slaughtered by Hindu rioters and sees along with it a rioting kid (presumably) dressed as Lord Rama, in blue paint and with a bow and arrow in hand, standing as a sentinel of doom, an image whose indelibility in the character’s mind becomes a principal plot point.

A character is booked on the flimsiest of charges and then he is beaten black and blue in a police station and given volts of electricity.

What else? Let’s see.

Child prostitution. Check.

Forced begging. Check.

Blindings of innocent children. Check.

Rape. Check.

Human filth. Bahoot hain sahab.

Call centers. Oh yes most certainly.

Destiny. Of course.

But wait. Do Hindu saffron-clothed Ram Senas not run havoc through Muslim slums? Do street kids not get taken in by beggar gangs and maimed? Doesnt rape happen in India? Are those slums specially constructed sets? Why do you, third world denizen, get so defensive about your own country? Chill.

Well yes these things do happen in India. However the problem is when you show every hellish thing possible all happening to the same person. Then it stretches reason and believability and just looks like you are packing in every negative thing that Westerners perceive about India for the sake of “crowd pleasing”....

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And >
The movie being described by these critics is not the film that I saw several weeks ago in a darkened movie theater. Instead what I saw was a cynical collection of third-world clich├ęs sold with pretty colors and an uplifting soundtrack. Slumdog Millionaire is the story of a little boy living in a society which happily allows his mother to be murdered by a roving mob for being Muslim, and then abandons him to live in the streets alone, scrabbling in the mud. It’s the story of a boy sold into slavery by his countrymen, a boy who once he escapes slavery can only survive by repay the kindness of tourists with theft. It’s the story of a boy whose brother treats him like garbage, betrays him and threatens to kill him so he can rape the beautiful woman his sibling loves. It’s the story of a boy who grows up to be beaten and hideously tortured by the police for doing well on a game show which tries to cheat him. It’s the story without a single moment of genuine virtue or morality demonstrated by anyone around the movie’s protagonist. It’s a story full of crime, murder, and child abuse. The only time our hero Jamal is ever really happy in, he’s robbing people. Even the film’s so called happy ending is paper thin. Having watched him live a life in which each tiny success is brutally punished by a culture of bigotry, corruption, and abuse there’s every reason to believe that after our Jamal walks off camera he’ll immediately be stabbed and left for dead in a Mumbai alley.

Yet Donald Monroe of the Fresno Bee says this “Indian tale is delightful.” What? This is a movie which portrays Indian culture as bankrupt and evil. As shown in Slumdog Millionaire the Indian way of life is one of poverty and callous disregard for basic human rights. I have no idea if that’s the real India, but that’s the one portrayed in this movie. This is the story of a boy surviving in a civilization of vicious murderers and hate-mongers. This is the story of a boy scrabbling about in the dirt heaped upon him by a national heritage of brutality, learning to lie and steal as his birthright, desperate to survive in an entire nation of evil people. Yet Duncan Riley of The Inquisitor insists, “it taps in to Indian culture in a way not really seen in movies shown in the West.” If the way he’s talking about is one of savagery, then he’s correct. Somehow I don’t think that’s what he meant.

read the rest here..


Hat Tip to Shadow warrior:
The Mis-Education of a Millionaire

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