Monday, October 8, 2012

Slumdog Millionaire


The fact that this advertisement for the film portrays it as "The feel-good film of the decade" makes me laugh. Although it is a nice, relatively happy story line with a happy ending, our learning in class has taught me otherwise. How can the (educated) audience feel good about a movie that portrays the slums of India in a positive light? Yes, the film does work to show the third world conditions of the slums in India, but just because one man made it out,  are we supposed to forget about all the other people who have to suffer?


Original paragraph:
The movie Slumdog Millionaire was reminiscent of the Indian culture. It portrayed different aspects of life and love in the culture and what it means to be a “slumdog.” Set in Mumbai, the movie does not aestheticise or romanticize the slums and the way people live there. Through a series of shots of the main characters running through the streets , we get an accurate depiction of the slums of Mumbai. However, as the film progresses, these very slums become industrialized as the country develops. Just like the novels we have been reading, India was undergoing changes geographically, economically, and even socially.  In Slumdog Millionaire, the plot allows the audience a more comprehensive view into Indian culture. We see moments in Jamal’s life that show us various aspects of Indian ways of life. Each of these moments teaches him a lesson and in return gives him the answers to questions he is asked.  One sequence of scenes in particular is in the climax, when everyone in Mumbai is gathered around the nearest television they can find and there is a lot of traffic. Because India was in the process of industrialization, luxuries like televisions were pretty scarce for those who were not very wealthy. Even the fact that they were watching an essentially westernized program shows how much the western cultures influenced and had control over the development of India. I believe the direction did an amazing job in depicting an accurate and comprehensive view of India and its development. As Indian culture continues to develop and industrialize, I think that more movies with accurate depictions should be made in order to help eliminate and dispose of some of the predispositions that the western culture has in regards to Indian people and cultural traditions. By doing so, this will allow our cultures to strive towards a brighter and more peaceful future in partnership instead of racism and opposition.

Here is a interesting link to an article concerning Filmic representation of people in Post colonial discourse written by Emeka Dibia Emelobe:
http://www.ajol.info/index.php/cajtms/article/viewFile/76598/67047

My interpretation:
In this article, the author argues that many of the problems resulting from post colonial media is the clash between cultures (Emelobe 215). She goes on to say that for centuries, colonialist have forced their ideals and values upon the colonized. Filmic representations of these peoples possess the same issue. With a movie like Slumdog Millionaire we are given a representation of life in India. We see the slums, but we do not experience enough of the daily lives of those people to make a substantiated decision about them or their prospective futures. Through this movie, we are given a glimpse into the world were two cultures have collided and the struggle with identity that results. While I think that Slumdog Millionaire is by all means a good film, I find that there are discrepancies within the representation of the Indian people and culture. Surly, not ALL Indian people have time enough in the day to crowd around the nearest television they can find to watch an episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. This particular representation, in my opinion, is ungrounded. Yes, the people are excited that "one of their own" has risen from the slums into a position that could potentially get him out of that world for good, but why would any of them REALLY care? I'm sure they all have their own daily lives and activities to attend to. But possibly not, because through our (American) culture's representation of Indian people, we see them as dirty, poor and struggling. Like Emelobe argues, the people of this movie are not real. They are "imagined and invented"(217). Therefore, it is impossible to say that this film was an accurate representation of India, because it is not a TRUE story. On the other hand, who is to define what is true and what is false? Without actually experiencing or knowing someone who has experienced life like this, we cannot make assumptions and believe they are grounded in factual evidence.

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