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bangalore India
Who wants to be a slumdog?
Feb 09, 2009 06:59 PM 1414 Views


Who wants to be a Slumdog?My son and I suffered the ignominy of having been stopped by the security guards at the Cinema theater entrance that was screening “Slumdog Millionaire”.

he problem was that my son was under aged according to the guards, and the film was rated ‘Adults Only’. After pleading with the guard for a full five minutes pulling out the ace defense of ‘Father knows best what is good for son, not the censor board’, we were allowed inside the theater.

My son and I secretly admired our audacity in the dark shadows of the cinema hall. After getting ourselves some nachos and not-so-fresh salsa, we settled into our seats and got ready to watch the much hyped oscar contender -

Slumdog Millionaire’.Much later, on our exit from the hall after watching the movie, we secretly thought to ourselves and confessed to each other later, that we wished the guard had not allowed us in after all. I really feel that this was a left handed delivery of a western accolade meant to thank India for exposing it’s underbelly in all its glory.

Hairy private parts and all.However, I am not here to rant but to understand. So understand we will. SDM has a few tested strong threads that make the western movie creation a huge success. Here is a movie with an accepted Operating System, to use a PC paradigm. ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ and its equivalent of ‘KBC’ are game formats that the east and west agree upon.

We know the anchor, participants, the nervousness, the lifelines, the stupid errors and the mind boggling success stories of the game show.While India knows all too well some of the rogue runaway applications such as slums, children forced to beg, religious riots, gang warfare, the west on the other hand needs occasional confirmation to the ingrained accepted truths regarding an under developed country.

Such rogue runaway applications are hidden and unknowable, unless exposed by the glare of a western light and camera to a western audience.Moving gracefully but rapidly between a known Operating System and its many unknowable rogue applications, the western audience is being helped in taking a flying leap from the known to the unknown and back, including a vicarious slow motion dip in a cesspool.

The karmic rights of dipping in the Ganges to absolve us of our sins are definitely not real and ‘oh soo yesterday’. The dip in the cesspool is the order of the day here in the Real India.It happens to us everyday and we don’t bat an eyelid before we take the plunge into the Real India. We are sometimes forced to bat an eyelid or two to stop getting sh*t in our eyes.

But then again we were not the intended audience, were we? We were the intended characters, remember?About twenty years ago, while I was roaming the western world, I happened to read a daily newspaper in a city called Milwaukee in Wisconsin USA. The Milwaukee Sentinel had dispatched a brave journalist to report happenings from India.

There was no Iraq or Afghanistan war or even the 9/11 attacks to write about or worry the safe American citizens back then. It got to be boring reporting just a cyclical economic downturn. The brave journalist wrote about elephants and tigers that might leap out at you from the roadsides. He even wrote about a snake charmer climbing up a rope and vanishing into thin air.

The small Indian student community was outraged at the false reporting of New India and I philosophized, much to myself, that such journalistic forays were meant to keep the western audience convinced that they live in a known world. Nothing has changed my western friends, said the journalist. The snakes, elephants and tigers are still roaming the streets of India.

You already know what I am confirming to you from out here. Don’t waste your breath with a trip. Read the newspaper.The western audience has come a long way and will not be fooled so easily by that. It will no longer fall for the Indian rope trick anymore.

But hell, the dark secrets, the real truths are still there lurking in the slums of India irrespective of the glossy portrayal by Thomas Friedman of how Infosys has caught up to the ways of the hyper start-ups in the Silicon Valley. The world may be flat Thomas, but sure as hell butt-ugly in spots.

Like the proverbial doubting Thomas poking his finger into a wound to ascertain the real resurrected master, a slow-mo dip in the slum to convince us that the underbelly is real and out there.The western reaction to this movie is obvious.

Tell me the truth, show me the slums, and convince me that I live in a better world! Give me a contrast, tell me life isn’t so bad in the land of plenty.Thanks Dave for the movie. Seems to me that an Oscar will be a token appreciation to a punctured step-knee tyre of a Bollywood steam-roller. Is there nobody to stand up and notice the Emperor’s clothes? Maybe his bizarre underbelly, with hairy privates and all is leaving us dumb founded?

Always remember, characters in a movie are not supposed to wash up and transform into sanitized audiences of a movie. I wish the security guards really barred you from doing that.Now take a plunge, will ya?

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