Sunday, 22 March 2009

Slumdog Millionaire & India's self-esteem

Jai Ho!
The catchy number has caught the imagination of the world. From mobile ring tones to neighbourhood tea shop… the winning spirit is all over the place. No wonder, the Congress Party has lapped up the Oscar winning song of Slumdog Millionaire as the main campaign jive. Surely, the number represents the spirit of India; her unparallel resilience and penchant for success amidst adversity! But does Slumdog Millionaire represent India in any way? Or is it just a piece of fascinating cinema? Or is it prejudiced peddling of India’s poverty to the Western audience?

But what’s lost between the two extremes of fiction and fact is the assault the film mounts on Indian self-esteem. It’s a matter of shame that not only we allow foreigners to portray such a derogatory picture of India, but also go gaga about West’s stamp of approval.

For centuries, the bad image of India has been projected more than the good one. This needs to change. We need to shed the low self-esteem we reel in and take more pride in our cultural and spiritual roots. We need to realise that we may have filthy slums, but we also have a lot to offer to an ailing world.

We have slums, we have beggars, yet we also are the most humane civilisation. It will always be very difficult for an outsider to judge India as she is full of opposites. So Boyles will continue to play safe and pack in every negative thing about India to play to the gallery. But it’s our national duty to show the world that though there are slums in India, we don’t have slumdogs!

Read here why Slumdog Millionaire is an assault on India's self-esteem.

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