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Is it truly Real India
Apr 12, 2009 09:49 PM 3036 Views
(Updated Apr 13, 2009 10:47 PM)





It has taken me quite sometime to come up with my view on this widely famous movie, which has won enough Oscars that would collectively put to shame the previous achievers from India. This movies has all the elements to satisfy the curiosity and the perceived notion of India of beggars, snake-charmers, mendicants, sanyasies, slums, utter poverty and the list goes on. It is more of serving India with a dose of romance, glam, poverty porn and the canard‘it happens only in India.’

I could only cringe at many situations faced by Jamal and romanticised byBoyle. First take up the scene when Jamal is in the toilet and the famous actor Amitabh Bachan comes over for a shoot in the slums and Jamal jumps into the piling faeces below just to get an autograph from this great actor. Does that not show the blind fascination of Indians to the film stars, but this scene has gone beyond that. Utter commercialisation!

Next is the scene where the children are made beggars! Come on this is the 21st century and we can be sure that these scenes do not happen anymore. We were frightened in our childhood these sort of things happen. But with what regularity? This happens in movies and only in movies more often. It was so bloody horrible that I had to close my eyes when this scene was played. I would give an Oscar to Naan Kadavul if the case be.

Then the improbable journey across North India, where Jamal gets beaten up when he takes American Tourists to a place not frequented by tourist and in the process the car tyres are ripped off. The Jamal says, ‘Welcome to Real India’ or to that effect. Yes, it happens in India and to all the Indians who go out of their way to show something very unique to India. This could happen to any tourist in any part of the world(New York Brooklyn or East End London or the docks of Marseilles). This scene is about a westerner being in the wrong place in the wrong time. Come on give me a break! This happens everywhere in the world.

Then the prostitution in Bombay. This is a known fact to the entire world and how the havelies in the by lanes of Bombay Central, Kamatipura or Grant Road operate and how the influx of new entrants come. It is not just orphans who are introduced to this field, but migrants who have lost their livelihood in their villages, the people driven out of their home due to political upheavals(Nepal) or just the pressure of carrying on with life and having no means otherwise. This vertical is not the real India by any means. Then if a case study is taken on prostitution the WEST would anytime beat India, with their ingenious ways.

Then the Q&A section of the movie, which dominates and the entire story revolves. This shows media in India controlled by pseudo intellectuals, who is apathetic to someone who is just lucky by experience! But I am sure everyone is given a fair chance in any field in India, despite the reservations, the divide between the rich and the poor, can excel. The entire Q&A is just a romanisation of the Kaun Bhanega Crorepathiand a very poor imitation of that famous reality show of the late nineties. We all know the luck and the surprise element in these shows.This entire charade was a utter mockery and shows how the so called high and mighty control the political and the police apparatus. If you take on the whole this does not happen in day-to-day life in India.There is still a virtue of righteousness in every aspect of Indian life.

Then the underworld of Bombay, it is overly romanticised in many Bollywood and other WOODS in India. This is just like in the west of mafias and drug dealers.

The love factor which drives Jamal to attain his destiny is not new to India.

The music is exceptional in this movie. But in that case AR Rahman should have been awarded multiple Oscars in the past few years.

I can just conclude that this movie is made to satisfy the West’s infatuation and perception of what India is, Poverty, Slums, Crime, Exploitation, Wheeling dealings and the list goes on and on. Do you think that if that this movie made by some Indian with the same cast and storyline would have crossed the shores of Bombay? We all damn well know that it would not have. This movie was just a Bollywood fantasy made by a British director.

I met an Austrian Photographer in Bombay in 1997 and she showcased the best of Indian culture, dance, portraits, festivals, landscapes… and I just happened to ask her why not the sordid poverty, slums and backwardness?She asked me, where in Earth don't you find these depressing scenes and why do you have to portray the worst when the best is beautiful and uplifting?

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