Why do Indians hate Slumdog Millionaire?

I am rooting for Slumdog Millionaire to win as many awards as possible in tomorrow’s Oscars.  Certainly the Oscar for “Best Picture” as well.  Does that mean I think it’s an amazing picture?  Do I really think it’s better than some of the good movies churned up by Indian cinema?

Not really.  Off the top of my head, I can think of quite a few Hindi movies that were as good, or better – Swades, or Chak de India, or even Lagaan.  Even if we were to look at movies made just about kids in Mumbai slums, I’d say Salaam Bombay was far more touching, and it never won any Oscars. Plus, these movies all competed in the “Foreign Film” category, which is obviously a big handicap.  Nor did they have the marketing muscle that Slumdog has.

But even if it’s not the bet picture we’ve seen in Indian cinema, it’s still quite good.  I found it quite disquieting, and yet I liked it.  So why do Indians hate Slumdog Millionaire?

We went with another couple to watch the movie.  We were all disposed to like the movie, even though we knew the reviews were hostile in India.  But after the movie, my friend, a Mumbaikar, was upset over the depictions of Mumbai.

“Why do they only show the poverty?”, she wondered. “Why don’t they show all of Mumbai  instead of focusing just on Dharavi?”

I was silent.  The movie is disquieting, but I realized a large part of my disquiet stems from the fact that it’s a possible tale.  I can believe most of what the movie shows.  The police brutality, the wretched life in the slums, the religion-based riots, the kidnapping of kids to work as beggars, I can believe all this.  There are a few twists of plot that are hard to believe, but I cannot question the essential portrayal.

It’s true the movie focuses on the slums, but that’s what its story is about.  It’s also true that Danny Boyle manages to show every symbol of India that the West focuses on – the slums, the call centers and the Taj Mahal.  He somehow missed out on the snake charmers and the Great Indian rope trick, but he got everything else in.  But then I am not surprised – it’s easier for someone new to India to stick to clichés rather than try to comprehend all of the complexity that India is.

But is that why people dislike the movie? Because it is full of clichés ?  Shouldn’t we expect that?  Aren’t Bollywood movies full of stereotypes too – the chain-smoking, hard-drinking villain, the honest hero, the innocent, beautiful, heroine and so on?

I wonder if our main objection to the movie is because it depicts a part of India we’d rather not focus on.  We’d like to celebrate our economic growth and our resurgent middle class.  We’d like to point to our new malls and glass-fronted buildings.   The movie does not show much of the prosperity of middle class India.  It shows the other India that not many of us know very well, or would like to think about – the poor India that has remained poor despite all the recent economic growth.

Not many of us ever venture inside Dharavi.   It’s still a symbol of what we’ve not yet accomplished, despite pious statements like “Garibi Hatao” all those years ago.

None of the things shown in the movie is news to us, but we don’t like being reminded in an in-your-face manner about them.   It is much more comforting to hope that with continued economic growth, eventually, the poor will also get a better quality of life.

So is this a class issue then?  Does the middle class feel ignored and sidelined in the movie’s depiction ?  Or is it just that we’d like the West, and the rest of the world, to focus on the positive story about India’s economic growth?  Does the movie remind us a little too harshly about the stark realities of poverty that co-exist with our own comfortable existence?  Is that why so many are flinching?


232 thoughts on “Why do Indians hate Slumdog Millionaire?

  1. I doubt Indians are blind to the harsh reality of Indian slums, or even to the cliched misrepresentation of the Bollywood troupe dancing half-clad in the Swiss Alps. I think the reason behind the sudden noise with SDM is because it now has an international audience who (according to the noisemakers) is likely to equate slums to India. As if that’s news! All this while Bollywood movies, however badly made or far from reality, had mostly Indian viewers. And others from the subcontinent. It’s almost like not wanting to be caught in your PJs when a guest visits / you go out.

    I wish these guys took the movie for what it is, though – a story. About serendipity. It just happens to be a story based on a certain aspect of India. A harsh aspect, yes, and very close to the harsh reality. But it isn’t and doesn’t claim to be a documentary where one can question the accuracy of its portrayal. My only qualm is about Darshan Do Ghanshyam not being by Surdas. The book has that error too, apparently.


    • I love the comparison with being caught in your PJs when guests visit 🙂 Yes, it s something like that..
      I always thought “Dashan do” was just a movie song – Musicindia does credit G S Nepali as the composer. it brings back memories as a childhood friend used to sing it very well..

      • Dear Gauri…You gave a stunning over view to what this movie meant,i wish the people in india would shut up and embrace the truth and reality this movie has to offer,Danny did not mean to show mumbai as a slum arena but he focused on the poverty which i regret to inform exists all over india.I am not going to deny movies like lagaan,devdas and etc,they made an wonderful and terrific impression on me and they were touching as well.But when it comes to the sing song melody,not everyone in other parts of the world would be willing to accept that.

        Take the famous book shantaram,it gave you a real insight to the life of the thriving slums,home to the thousands n thousands people out there in India,i think slumdog millionaire has portrayed it really well.There was a burst of colours,excitement,anger,and everything else which blended in very well.It focused just a certain aspect and only people whose general knowlege is poor would think that the whole of india is a slum country.Most of us know the other beautiful aspects of india and POVERTY IS EVERYWHERE.i think it is time the people of india appreciate what this movie have to offer and bask in its success instead of complaining all the damn time and whisking to offer a non reality movie instead!
        oh btw i am a indian from southeast asia and i am proud of this movie and the success,and i am also proud of our AR RAHMAN the music genius.

      • to me this story is not abt the whole country but an individual for the slums made big by wining the the show and over coming whatever obstacle if let say the movie scene where not shot in india but us or uk it would mean the same bcoz poverty is everywhere even in the uk ppl r suffering, but this story is abt human spirit and triumph.

    • This is not India ! Trust me. I watched the movie after it won all the Oscars.
      I have been to the Slums in Mumbai and have seen them very close. There is a lot of Disgust but not in the way shown in this movie. I was of the opinion that if an Indian would have made this movie , it would not have won the Oscars, but after this movie I realized it is not even worth indian Film Awards as it shows India in a very Bad Light. To me it seemed as if Danny Boyle thinks people from where he lives are all God and India is a total Slum and nothing and nobody is Good here. He has exaggerrated the poor living conditions in the slums and has tried to tell that most people there are very inhuman! Insulted India. If an author has exactly written what he has depicted then I would say that the author is a Disgrace to India!

  2. Boyle played a safe game, he hit every cliche that would make it marketable to the west. Boy did they lap it up or what! Think about it, if the same movie was about a lower-middle class family struggling to keep up witht he fast paced economy. A boy rises from there and wins the plot, does that make it dramatic enough?

    Let’s face it, poor India sells! Look at flickr accounts of people who’ve visited India, they will be full of beggars, dogs in garbage cans, children cryin on the roads or abandoned old people. Thats the biggest draw, so lets give it to them.
    Let’s make a few more, that ways our technicians get a chance to win awards and get recognition. I find the gareeb-dekho tourism very lucrative, and if they win the oscars, I might even consider it!

    Till then, jai ho!

    • That’s very possible, I am sure poverty is a horrifying and riveting spectacle. It’s probably one of the things that come to people’s minds when they think of India (call centers, the Taj Mahal and Gandhi being others).

      It might be a bad, cliche-ridden movie, but since when have people started taking out protest rallies just because a movie is bad?

    • I am very Hurt ! Please get Real ! How can you think only in terms of how others think. Show them what they have not. Mind you there are worse conditions around the world but it is not highlighted or encashed. Even when they will look at you they will look down upon you as one grown up from the Slums.

  3. Ok. Just judging by the merits of the movie, it is a very good one, and every soul in this world loves it when the underdog triumphs. Whether it deserves an Oscar or not, is debatable, as much as any other movie is, these days.
    The movie does project the so called “dirty underbelly” of India but unlike others, I don’t think it is taking advantage of it and/or that is the reason it is being lapped up in this part of the world with so much enthusiasm. If it were not an underdog story, but still set in the slums, I think it would have just been an also ran.

    And about your argument, I think there is a crucial flaw. You start the article comparing it to Indian movies and calling it Indian cinema. It may be set in India, in Bombay, but it is as much an Indian movie as Blood Diamond would be, African. It is a Hollywood movie, set in India, from the director who gave us the brilliant Trainspotting(which showed the dirty trashy self destructive lives of spoiled British youth, with a scene overflowing with trash, like the one in Slumdog). I wonder why people don’t see that as the dirty underbelly of the Western world(or any other world, for fear of generalizing). So this poking of the Indian inferiority complex by a Hollywood flimmaker is what is irking people. You cannot compare it with Indian movies and filmmakers and try to make a logical argument out of it. If it was “Indian Cinema” I would have seen Amitabh Bachchan attend the premiere and not find him writing an illogical blog post.

    • You raise an interesting question – when is a movie considered Indian? Is a movie Indian just because its director or producer is, or because the cast and theme is Indian? This discussion merits a post of its own..

  4. Like you said, its because we’d rather not focus on the not so flattering part of ourselves.
    BUT poverty and squalor are a part of all big cities- Harlem, Bronx, East Palo Alto, Tenderloin…I can go on and on. It’s there whether we like it or not.

  5. Only some Indians don’t like it. I am Indian and I love it and so does everyone I know who has seen it. Middle class Indians can’t handle the truth about the existence of the poor. When was the last time a Bollywood film ever explored their lives? Also, not all the reviews in India have been hostile, there have been just as many positive reviews of the movie. Also, I think there is a lot of jealousy involved too. Let the howling dogs howl whilst the slumdog triumphs. Jai ho.

  6. I think you have got it bang on, when you say that parts of India dont like to show one side of what we stood for ! An India that we think we have moved on from, in the event of all the global take over and India Shining marketing !

    But this is the truth. And there is a world out there. And this film takes us there. It is slickly made. Makes you squirm by reminding you of that world. But thats like it ! And thats the story !

    I think we should move on. But these days, anybody who lives in a glass house gets stoned. I mean..hurled at !

  7. While I don’t know if this movie deserves an Oscar or not, I am
    (like you) surprised at people’s (indians) resentment towards the depiction of poverty and the squalor that does exist. It has been shot in real locations, not on sets. And its a story that’s wound around slum kids. So Boyle need not show what else is happening in mumbai. The rest of mumbai may be really great. And the rest of the populace may be leading secure, stable, mundane lives.

    I liked it for it reminded me of what I myself had seen hazily, while passing through dharavi, or while travelling by local trains or yeah while landing in mumbai. Oh yes, I still recollect the stench.

    Yes, some of the scenes may have been been over-emphasized, the plot contrived, and the twists hard-to-digest, but then how else would an underdog triumph?

    • My sentiments exactly. Boyle is not obliged to be politically correct and have his characters make statements about how great the rest of Mumbai is, right? Although, as sirensongs points out, he does show the call centers and the new real estate developments..

    • I agree. Why this sudden urge to show all possible angles of Mumbai? Have even people in Mumbai seen all angles or lives lived in Mumbai? You surely don’t seen people complaining about Hum Aapke Hai Kaun or DDLJ citing reasons that we don’t break into song at every goddamn event in our lives and nor are our houses mansions. Where was the poverty angle of India in those movies? I can understand why people don’t like a movie but dammit why should I not like it just because you didn’t?

  8. ..i personally didnt like the movie all that much. But that was because I though the lead actors were stiff as hell. I think the other disconcerting aspect of the movie is that english speaking bit – as an indian you watch and you get a mental disconnect right there.

    I think also there is an element of outside-in portrayal which one will not find in movies like say, chandni bar or salaam bombay – which again jars. but i guess that is to be expected isnt it.

    • I agree the acting could be better 🙂 The child actors performed wonderfully, though – they were the real stars of the movie.

      The “outside in” portrayal is true, but as you say, that’s to be expected. I’d say that happens even in movies directed by hyphenated Indians – say Nagesh Kukunoor’s “Hyderabad Blues”..

      • What can’t you handle constructive criticism? India just like China is a big rabbit club expecting the world to sing songs of praises about the complexities and uniqueness of India. It’s ironic how a typical Bollywood movie with all its singing and dancing and fake realities become an instant hit while a movie that deals with the harsh realities of India is loathed by some. How many foreign movies and not Hollywood movies based on realities of life do Indians watch?
        Every country will have something they are not proud of. India has poverty. Face it and deal with it. Promote family planning or better still have a one child policy which will minimise poverty which in turn will make sure that India will have less chances of being shown in the wrong light.

  9. It’s very middle-class to not want the neighbors to know how dysfunctional our families are, lest we feel embarrassed by it. A lot of Indians feel the same way about foreigners knowing about our slums. Unfortunately, the harsh world of slums is what is special about the third world to the average Westerner as they think they are seeing/ learning something new. Sure, one could say there are plenty of ghettos in the West too, but just as Indian youth who listen to gangsta rock probably think thug life is something that happens in Compton and Harlem, completely oblivious to the fact that it’s probably not a lot unlike life in our very own Dharavi, Western youth see poverty and corruption as something that exists in the third world, and not as something that lies under their very nose in the ghettos of America and the slums of Paris.

  10. for india to win oscar it has to showcase its poverty ala slumdog millionaire…or do a historical piece from the times of the british rule in order to register a chord in the west…for now we must give oscar for giving indians a new tag/stereotype (rightly or wrongly) in the western world, i.e. SLUMDOG…

    like: Hey Dude…Hey Slumdog…..HaHaHa

      • However it is true that you need to treat really serious themes (holocaust, bosnia etc) to win awards. Boy meets girl themes rarely fetch awards.

      • how many western non-indians saw DDLJ to tag desis RAJ?
        negative tag is easier to catch fire, get twisted…no matter how incorrect it is…but off-course you guys will lead chaddi campaigns to negate any misuse of that nature…right?

  11. The movie did depict modern, middle-class, glass-front India- I remember finding the scenes in the flat-screen TV bungalow with security guard such a contrast with the slum scenes. The film does show that India has and is changing. A character also says, “see the slums where we grew up? now it’s all high-rise housing.”

    The call centre scenes were also filled with educated, well-dressed middle class youth. Middle-class “new India” was not the sole focus, but it was represented.

    Boyle is experiencing “the burden of representation” — what every artist, in film or other media, encounters when portraying or addressing an historically underrepresented people, nation or topic. The (usually well-meaning) artist is unfairly expected to redress every mis-representation of the topic that has occurred throughout the centuries, all in one two-hour film, 30 minute sitcom or 500 page book.

    So let’s all look forward to AR Rahman’s Oscar win and more! mere desh mahan.

    • You are right, Boyle does show the call centers and high rise apartments, the bungalows with security guards and whatnot. But apparently, for many people those scenes are inadequate 😀

      Interesting phrase – “the burden of representation”. You are right that no Indian director would face such an expectation if he were to make such a movie..

      • An Indian Director would in my opinion be more focussed on the storyline and would be more concerned with the message and would not focus unneccessarily to show the trash and dirt in the Slums !

  12. The truth however, is that the people of dharavi didnt find it great to have their life portrayed on the screen. That is what counts. It doesnt matter what middle class indians think about it. The slumdogs didnt like it- oscar or otherwise.

    • Even if some people in dharavi protested, I doubt they spoke for all of Dharavi. Besides, if I don’t like someone telling me my faults (assuming the criticism is true), should I stop them from saying it?

      • No, no one stops you from saying it but i guess cinema is all about entertainment isnt it? After all it is not the fault of the people in Dharavi that the infrastructure is so bad out there.

      • Interestingly, here in the US the movie is perceived as a “modern-day fairy tale” (I am quoting the NYT), the story of an underdog’s success and so on..so while they do show the poverty, the spin on it is positive..

    • I totally agree with the Fact that the people of Dharavi Must have not at all liked the Movie as this was not them and it was more like danny boyle was trying to justify the name !

  13. Pingback: Why does everything have to be about poverty? « Voice From A 2.5-World Country

  14. Pingback: Global Voices Online » India: Loathing ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

  15. Lekhni

    Well tackled. Did you read Pr3rna’s post on Slumdog as well?

    The reason in my view is a combination of false national pride, a culture that places much emphasis on face-saving over reality/ truth, a tendency to sweep real problems under the carpet and in a pendulum-swing from absolute lack of self-confidence to extreme arrogance, the ease of blaming everything on a third party (in this case, a white man daring to portray what everyone in India sees, smells and wonders about anyway, with most ignoring it successfully in the guise of ‘survival need’).

    As I told many who argued with me on my recent trip to India, if you open the doors, you let people in, and you get scrutiny, that’s life; so don’t like the game (of globalisation of everything), quit it and lock yourself back in. Sounds like a plan, no?

    PS: Isn’t this also the flipside of claiming every remotely desi person’s achievements as India’s own (cue: Bobby Jindal, Sunita Chawla and so on)?

    • Prerna makes the same point, right – she doesn’t like the movie because she thinks talking about poverty is like leaking a family secret. I don’t see where the secret is, though..

      I too have mixed feelings on the patriotism that verges on jingoism I see in some young Indians. Shouldn’t true patriotism involve accepting that some things need to be fixed, and trying to fix them? Rather than railing at people for daring to point out what needs to be fixed?

      • Lekhni:

        Yes, Prerna said something like that and I said that any sniping couple would be foolish to believe that the whole world doesn’t already know of their sniping. 🙂 Bad things often are open secrets.

        I also thought you will find this a tangential but amusing read. http://www.manuscrypts.com/?p=1503#comment-9913

        I think we like democracy and free market only as long as our own preferences are reflected in the outcomes. So, many Indians will tell you why Jai Ho is not Rahman’s best but who cares if they want to compare it to all his previous catalogue and pronounce it sub-par? As far as the broader global market is concerned, it is a stellar piece and so be it.

        The debate will continue but I must commend you on attracting a singularly civil audience 🙂 No gaali? Whaaaat???

      • I remember reading that WaPo article (last year?) on Joshua Bell. I didn’t know even street (ok, underground) musicians in London are pre-selected 😮

        As I said on Twitter, I am wondering why no one has questioned my patriotism yet 😉
        Everyone has been unfailingly polite, and has left very thoughtful comments!

        Many thanks, all you commenters, for a great discussion!

      • yes this movie has raised awareness in india and people are on the streets sweeping the slums clean, getting them good sanitation ,electricity, etc… Jai Ho to you and the media for covering it…
        never mind the nameless people who get highlighted every hour on the media and your blog rants for actually working in the slums and trying to make a difference…How come that doesnot get your coverage??? after all you are daring to point out what needs to be fixed or being fixed by a few unknowns…open your doors and eyes first before trying to blog your solutions to ether…

      • Rana,
        I take it we agree that we need to do something about the slums – we cannot pretend they don’t exist; their existence only means we, the middle class, need to do more to help eradicate poverty..if the movie has raised awareness, it’s certainly a good thing.

    • “Isn’t this also the flipside of claiming every remotely desi person’s achievements as India’s own (cue: Bobby Jindal, Sunita Chawla and so on)?”

      Shefaly, the flip-side cuts both ways. 😉

    • That’s interesting, I didn’t know. More recently, “Rent” faces the same fate..isn’t it true that wherever we are, we are united in our dislike of unpleasant truths about ourselves 🙂

  16. I liked the movie, but what I really hate that ‘Indian’ Movie is going to win an oscar. I support AR Rahaman, but rest of the nominations are not for India or Indian in that case.
    As you already said, SDM is nice movie but we had much better in past or present. Also its interesting to note that clearly ‘Jai Ho’ is not Rahaman’s best. But never the less, I will never understand why people are so blind and mad for oscars.

    As already discussed above, its a nice movie….. few will like it, few won’t like it. Of all the bad things shown in movie, it also portrays, strong characteristics of ‘Indian making it works’. No matter what, Life works in India.

    Plus, movie can easily be framed as biased if one has read the book. (Reference to: Real India and Real America comment scene).

    JAI HO 😀

    • I agree too – why do Indians feel the need for an Oscar nod? Why do we debate endlessly on which movie to nominate for “Best Foreign Film”, and feel disappointed if our entry doesn’t win? Why do we believe the Oscars are the last word for every film in the world, instead of just American films?

      • It is natural. Like winning the nobel prize. Even super powers like america would love to have the nobel – given by a nobody like the king of sweden. So if a certain prize has a reputation, it is natural that everyone aspires for it.

    • I agree. Not only is a filmmaker not responsible for showcasing a city, I’ll go further and say that it’s not possible to compress any description of India in a movie. As I said in your blog, it’s like the story of the six blind men trying to describe an elephant – any description will be necessarily incomplete.

  17. Could you please let me know whom do you refer to as Indians in the title of this topic? As far as I know I hv not seen any body disliking the movie and I am pretty sure they are Indians….. 😦

  18. A quick observation: If the Indian box office is anything to go by ‘Chandni Chowk to China’ – a truly awful experience bar none – has destroyed SDM 2:1. If Slumdog wins best “motion” picture, it will be perhaps the most appropriate subject matter award in the Oscars’ history.

      • Yes, Indians clearly dislike Slumdog. The fact that SDM has won, or been nominated for, a total of 91 awards but has largely failed to connect with Indian audiences merely points, once again, to the huge chasm between how the West likes to imagine India & how Indians view their own lived realities.

      • In that case, I suppose the success of Dark Knight and Iron Man shows how the West “view their own lived realities”? When have box office collections determined Oscar winners?

      • Patrix, but SM is a realistic movie which depicts truth (that’s all I’ve heard) whereas TDK and IM are fantasy comic-book character movies. So your example is not a good rebuttal to a valid point of the chasm that sanjay mentioned. 🙂

  19. I’m a Westerner and a lover of stories from all over the world. Some stories are about poor people, some stories are about rich people, some stories are realistic and others are utter fantasy. I thought Slumdog Millionaire was thoroughly entertaining, inspiring…and fictional. I wouldn’t use such an obvious fantasy to make broad assumptions about an entire country! We have poverty and violence here in the United States, too; such injustice is not unique to India.

    I appreciate the opportunity to read everyone’s opinions on this blog. This can be a sensitive subject.

    • Thanks for your comments. I hope your comments underscore to my fellow Indians on this blog that not everyone who watches the movie is going to think Dharavi is all India is 🙂

  20. I disagree with the person who says all westerners who travel to India take pictures of the slums/street kids and that’s all they are interested in. Who would take a picture of a slum child, whom they do not even know? Perhaps some do it, but I find that to be extremely inappropriate! How would anyone like/feel to have their picture taken of by a stranger because they look “different” or impoverished? As a western American Telugu speaker. I have stayed for a long time in Hyderabad and briefly visited parts of north India (Agra, New Delhi,Jaipur, Amritsar) I only hope that most western people can see how this movie is not representative of India as a whole, but only parts of India are like that. Certainly Mumbai is a beautiful city, besides the slums. I feel like some ignorant people will take away a negative stereotype, but hopefully this movie will spark another Indian inspired movie that is more like Chak De India or even Bommarillu. I do agree that poor sells in America, which is sad. Perhaps after this movie, someone will be inspired to show a different side of India. So that the ignorant do not take a way a skewed typical third world image.

    • I know somebody from Europe who passed out at the back of the taxi when driving through Dharavi. He still goes to India regularly on work but avoids slums as far as possible.

      • Just because some outsider decides that he wants to hold up a mirror, Indians are not obligated to look into it. The normal reaction would be to turn the mirror back the other way “who the hell are you to be holding up mirrors?” The attempted rationalization that SDM is a true “Bollywood ishtyle” film i.e. that we are holding up a mirror to ourselves – was weak & failed to find any traction. Nobody bought it.

        I think this is so because even in Bollywood (1) not every director has the carte blanche from Indians to be holding up mirrors to society – Boyle is certainly not one of them (2) more importantly, we accept, even welcome, moralizing in religious movies & in “art” films. In all other popular genres, we simply roll our eyes & wait for the speech to get over.

      • “not every director has the carte blanche from Indians to be holding up mirrors to society”

        I guess Madhur Bhandarkar or Vishal Bharadwaj were never invited to the national mirror holding meetings.

      • I don’t think the showing of the mirror around is anyway going to change what faults lies with us. So rather than indulging in blame-game, why can’t we DO something to improve our image. The outsiders,as we call them, will then not be able to show us whats not there!!

  21. Lekhni:

    Here is an interesting one from AR Rahman in his interview with the BBC:

    “But being an ambassador for fighting poverty for the UN, I believe this film will make a greater statement than any politician or lobbyist.

    I hope this will be a positive step towards eradicating poverty. In Mumbai, you have the richest man in the world and the poorest person in the world co-existing side by side, which is a shame. You can’t accept that.”

    The link: http:// news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/oscars/7884108.stm

  22. my dislike of slumdog millionaire had nothing whatsoever to do with the depiction of poverty; that is something i would never object to. a filmmaker has all the freedom to make what he/she wants to make as long as it doesn’t insult the target audience’s intelligence. what i didn’t quite like was the discrepancies, the plotholes, the lack of research in certain areas, the rather rather too far-fetched coincidences (even destiny has its limits), and an overall lack of emotional depth; nothing actually drew me into the characters’ lives. and dev patel, whose acting…speech and mannerisms alike…betrayed a certain condescending arrogance and resulted in a rather caricatured portrayal of the slumdog jamal. most of all, however, i resented the positive attention it received because so many far, far better indian films have been passed over, ignored, all these years. and the fact that had slumdog been an indian film, made by an indian filmmaker, reviewers would probably have called it a ‘brave experiment, but without a plausible storyline or character depth’, and forgotten all about it. i suppose i like slumdog millionaire for being the bit of surrealist pop-art it is, but all the attention it’s received is like passing over van gogh for andy warhol.

    • I agree, there are many Indian movies which are far better, which have had to compete in the “Foreign Film” category and got passed over. The lesson to Indian filmmakers is going to be – don’t compete as a Foreign film.

      • true, but seeing as most indian films are made in vernacular languages, is it possible to enter them in any other category?

      • Oscars are taken seriously by the film fraternity and i can undestand why. The key is services, technical services in the film industry. Huge money defintely capable of increasing the standadrd of life of many of the technicians in our film industry.

  23. Like somebody said in a earlier comment, Slumdog is a fast paced slickly edited film which uses some the harsh realities of india as a backdrop to tell a story with a positive outcome. It is a bit difficult to believe that the film would have evoked the same international response if the film’s backdrop was not a harsh India.

    Personally I feel Danny boyle used the back drop that would sell the most to his target audience and he hit bulls eye, it generated enough controversy and along wth it pulled the audience to see the film, he is laughing all the way to the bank. It is foolish to think that he had an agenda greater than making a good film and he used all his creative juices to come up with a relaistic story. That does not mean everybody should necessarily like it, My issue is, there seems to be a common thread that anybody who does not like the film is denying the harsh realities of india, which is the B.S that i take offence with.I dont deny the existence of such harsh realities but why pay good money to see something that is right there in front of you. When i go to a movie i dont want to see any body jumping into a shitpot , indian, caucasian or otherwise.

    • I can see your perspective that it doesn’t make sense to see poverty when it’s all around us in India. But in the US at least, this movie is seen not as a film about poverty per se, but more as a rags-to-riches story, a feel-good “triumph of human spirit” and all that, so much needed in this recession.

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  25. I’m Indian, and I don’t hate SM, but I find it to be average. I’ve seen enough Bollywood films to be slightly jaded by the melodramatic, requiring-suspension-of-belief plot set midst the poverty and the gangsters. It simply adapts Bollywood formulas for a western audience. If you want to see a piece of true Indian genius, watch the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, the first movie especially. It easily surpasses SM in its eloquent depiction of poverty. SM has covered ground that has been covered before. Hasn’t the misery of India’s poor been talked about enough?

    In SM we see Jamal being tortured by policemen and given shocks, his mother killed by Hindus in riots, him eking out an existence at a huge garbage dump living under a tent, gangsters masquerading as running an adoption center picking up vulnerable children and forcing them to beg, blinding them and selling them into prostitution, the elder brother getting into a life of crime, getting drunk on power….I find this potrayal of India rather negative and worn. Talking about poverty and India is old. I’m not “denying” the fact that India has another face to it, I’m saying that has been talked about enough.

    Yeah, it sure does have some positive, fun parts like Jamal and Salim making money by being tour guides and this and that, and Jamal ends up being a chai-wallah and then he wins the game show. But is the story or even just the last bit plausible?

    The film was melodramatic, and uses Bollywood formulas to tug at heart strings. Look at all these emotional, crazy twists and turns in the plot, like Jamal finding the love of his life, his brother Salim doing one last good deed, and her falling into his arms at the end of the film. The whole good things-bad things twists and turns is, atleast I feel, a sort of formula. Also, for Indians the slums and the life there is nothing new, but for the West its novel.

    This is minor, but it feels rather weird, when the film suddenly shifts from Hindi to English. Hearing perfect English from Jamal and Salim feels odd. I also dislike the title. What has “slum” got to do with “dog”?

    My point is, the film is ok, its average, but whatever it is, it definitely does not deserve the attention and awards it has garnered.

    • I agree the film is average, and there have been many better Indian movies more deserving of awards and attention. Which basically goes to show that it’s not about the product as much as it is about the marketing.

  26. My first experience with the “reaction” to this movie was when a cousin of mine told me they went to see it in New Jersey and then WALKED OUT after about fifteen minutes. He was very offended by the portrayal of the slum and viewed it as a racist depiction of India.

    A few years back, I visited a family friend in Bangalore, a cardiologist. He told of being quite upset when a young Indian-American journalist, the daughter of another friend came to do a story for the Wall Street Journal about the plight of the poor of Bangalore in the face of the high-tech boom. He wanted to know why she was more interested in their story than the positive story of Bangalore.

    Another thing I wonder about is whether those who resents the movie were educated to believe in their heroic nation-saving qualities and feel that these kinds of movies quite graphically shovel their failure in their faces.

    It’s interesting to compare the movie to Trainspotting, where the triumph at the end was getting the bag of cash, while in SDM, apparently (?), the hero loses the money but gets the girl.

    • That’s exactly what I’ve seen too, of people’s general reaction in India. But my point is, unless we even start with accepting that there is enormous poverty in our midst, how are we going to do anything about it? 😦

  27. I liked the movie. I did not think it was Oscar-worthy, although I am sure Americans found the experience quite exotic and fascinating. I also did not think Rahman’s songs were outstanding. although they were not bad; the main reason he won the award was because he really didn’t have any competition. I also think it’s strange that people are criticizing it for “slandering India”. The whole thing is a story for God’s sake. It’s a fictional story. It’s not supposed to be a social commentary on India or a portrayal of the country.

    • I agree, but given the poverty is real, people are not focusing on the fictional aspect of the story 🙂 I agree its appeal seems to be more exotic and it’s not one of India’s best offerings..

  28. I think on the whole Indians (those who are complaining) are jealous and cannot withstand the fact that a film on India made by a foreigner has garnered such tributes.

  29. till now the WEST thought that India was all about snake charmers and Elephant rides, now they think India is one big SLUM with snake charmers and elephant rides.

    • If there are any people so ignorant and impressionable as to come away with an opinion of an entire country based on parts of one movie, I wonder why we have to worry about the opinions of such people?

  30. Great post. I think Danny Boyle hit it on the head in his recent Time interview. The poverty is there in the movie, sure, but it is not the theme of the movie. The theme of the movie is the vitality of the Indian people, and that screams through. The colors, the music, the gorgeous kids. I believe thats what made this movie a winner last night. I am one of those Indians who deeply resents India being depicted in cliches, but Slumdog didn’t do that. Instead, it captured the essence of the country in a way Lagaan never did.

    • I agree, it is certainly perceived (at least in the US) as a feel good movie, as a positive spin on what someone even from the lowest economic strata can achieve…and there is the exotic Bollywood appeal.. I am less sure of whether Slumdiog, or any movie can capture the essence of India, but certainly this tries to make sense of India.

  31. Slumdog is the worst movie to represent Indian film industry. Infect it was foreign film shot in India with use of some Indian baggers as a cast.

    Western world always want to see India as a poor country and all they came to India for focusing poverty.

    Even baggers in India has their OWN slum (Zopda) but in developed country, govt give them houses and support them. in my view, they are more than baggers as they can’t survive without them.

    Bollywood hasn’t got marketing muscle power as foreign film industries got. it might be the cheapest film ever made in British film industries but they spend more money to market it and get 8 OSCARS.

    out of 8 Oscars, Indian A R rehman got only 2. all other went to the people who has nothing to do with India.

    Talking about A R Rehman, he is the best musician we got these days but Slumdog’s music was even below than his average music. think about ROJA,BOMBAY,TAAL,LAGGAN etc. Excellent piece of music he gave.

    I live in outside India from last 4 years but still I support Indian film industry not British film based on just Indian poverty shot in India.

    Bollywood is capable enough to get it’s merits in western world. Hum koi OSCAR ke mautaj nahi. Hume koi certificate nahi chaiye ki hamari films acchi hai. We knew it anyway.

    Keep making good movies for Indians not for foreigners !!

    • I wonder why we have to care so much for an Oscar seal of approval anyway? Why do we believe that any single movie represents all of Indian filmdom?

      Why do we feel that Slumdog represents the Indian film industry, even while refusing to consider Slumdog as an Indian movie, calling it a British movie instead?

  32. Lekhni:

    Interesting debate here. I would ignore the ‘experts’ cited therein:

    http:// roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/20/the-real-roots-of-the-slumdog-protests/

    • I wish they hadn’t called them “experts”. They could have just said they asked 3 Indians for their opinion. Calling them experts spoils the whole article..

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  34. I was passing through these blogs and i found this interesting discussion. i have not watched SM yet, and i have seen a host of opinions about it. Majority of them do agree that the film is good, but do believe its over the top about the potrayal of poverty. see the things about films and social messages is they are short lived. i was inspired 15 years ago when i watched Kamal in Indian. it took a social message of corruption.
    the slums in Dharavi exist because of more than a host of reasons, bottom line, for India to grow, it needs to have an attitude makeover. unfortunately it is atleast 15 years away. the whole notion of free welfare and socialism is the doom for this country.
    We Indians don’t get swayed by beggars that much because we are aware of the various scheming ways people make money. we know the dark side of people to use poverty as an excuse. Although there are many real deserving poor people who needs help.
    but we are sensitised growing up watching poverty all our life. No one who has grown up in India or been in India for an extended period of time, can escape it.
    I mean as you touch down the runway you see all the JJ colonies besides the airport.
    why we are so getting worked up over a british movie that won an Oscar(which is nothing but a US version of Filmfare awards) and i see news headlines, india brand can get positive publicity over this Oscar win. Give me a break. when we will stop patting ourselves and hyping ourselves for little things. that is like me throwing a party because my three year old came first in her pre-KG class.
    I seriously think we need indians need to stop this whole INdia shining, india gaining thing and gird our loins and get to work. also enough already with the India is becoming an economic super power…thing we are still atleast 25 years behind China, which by the way is still classified as an emerging market

    • Mukundan,
      I agree we are de-sensitized by our constant exposure to poverty in India; that is the only way we can survive without falling into depression. I also agree that while we have made some progress, we still have a long way to go, so the patting ourselves on the back is very premature.

  35. No, no, no! This did not happen, did it? Slumdog Millionaire winning Oscar is a one, big, awful nightmare. No.
    There was a dozen of better movies made this year that beat Slumdog in a face. Why was it chosen? Because some American criers were deeply moved by a image of blind child. Wow, so lame. The only plus for this movie wsa BEAUTIFUL actress playing Latika. That is it, and that is all.
    Thx for reading. (If you read, of course..)

  36. The issue as I see it is that Indian fans who are raving over realistic portrayal of India by a Brit, are not much knowledgeable about Indian movies that have portrayed reality. (BTW, could someone explain to me why is it a big deal that a Hollywood/British film portrayed reality – that too clichéd – about India? What makes it so worthwhile?) But when the plot-holes and numerous unrealistic depictions are pointed, then it shifts to “Oh it’s a modern fairy tale”, “Oh it’s a Bollywood escapist fantasy.” Seems like people want to have it both ways. 🙂

    Here are three examples:
    In a country where Sagarika Ghose and Barkha Dutt rule, how realistic is it that a Muslim who is in the spotlight and about to answer the final question would be whisked away and tortured by the police, and these reporters and progressive activists wouldn’t even raise a stink?

    As far as I know, WWTBAM is not telecast live and is pre-recorded. So the whole plot device of Latika watching it live on TV and hearing the phone ring and running to the car falls apart.

    For someone who has gone through such horrid experiences, Latika doesn’t really display any emotional scars.

    So much for portraying reality.
    Also, simply having a realistic backdrop of a slum doesn’t mean that it also depicts the *issues* realistically. I didn’t really see any serious treatment of *reasons* of poverty which Danny Boyle (didn’t) explored in this film. The redemption comes in the form of a British TV game show.

    As for those talking about inequality in India, maybe they should check out the wealth distribution in the US and what top percent owns what percentage of wealth.

    It’s just a fluffy film which doesn’t really withstand any serious scrutiny. That’s why I’m surprised over the big hoopla over it and at those who are treating it as worthwhile cinema.

    • I agree, the plot has numerous holes, it is as cliched as any Bollywood movie, and poverty is not unique to India either. Why, then, are we so touchy about a film that depicts a Mumbai slum for what it is? I think it comes down to it – the fact that the film was set in a slum, instead of showing middle class India.

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  38. slumdog was more popular in foreign countries like UK and USA. because the people there love to see the poverty prevailing in India. Thats why the movie just focussed on the Dharavi slums and not on the real Mumbai or India. Yes we admit that poverty is the big problem in our country, but there are more greener sides of India too. They depicted the slumdwellers, the riots, the beggary to the stealing things at Taj Mahal to the brothels, but my question is “Is this really the complete India that the movie is trying to show”.
    Calling a slumdweller as a “slumdog” is completely inhuman. How dare they call them as dogs,
    One scene that I remember was completely shocking.. that was when Jamaal as a kid was beaten near the Dhobi ghat in Agra because the children stole the peripherals of the car. There the boy said “If you want to see the real India here It is” and then the American lady caring for her said” If you wanna see real America here It is “. This is how it shows what the Americans really think of us.
    Movies like this will eventually cause more of the Indians being victims of racisms in foreign countries. I think its completely insane to applaud this movie for winning the Oscars . Just the only good thing is Indians bagged two Oscars, thats it. In India the movie is doing not really good . So that is one good news.

    • Is a movie supposed to show the complete India? All any movie tries to do is tell a story. It is not the PR machine of India’s external affairs ministry.

      If some people are racist, then they will chose to hold those beliefs irrespective of whatever the true facts are – most people don’t want to believe anything contrary to their beliefs.

  39. why all this hooplah over slumdog millionaire? and poverty porn??? r v too concerned abt the image of india or just embarassed that the world got to see the reality. what is the problem if one movie showcases india’s slums?? obviously they not gonna show american slums in a movie abt mumbai!!! truth is we r scared tht the global audience is seeing a movie like slumdog. take walk in the slums of india and u’ll know the reality, then why so much criticism?? just cos a movie of urban india does not get such recognition globally so we r getting jealous? all tht we showcase in our “real bollywoodism” is movies like dostana(girl wearing bikini all thruout) or candyfloss movies of SRK and karan johar. yes india has produced movies on slums b4 and they din get such recognition but did we criticise them for showng them reality? wht is the prob if a foreign director made a indian movie and got recognised. why din we ever criticise the original book Q&A by an INDIAN!! why the movie by a firang???

  40. Pingback: Global Voices in Swahili » India: Filamu ya Slumdog Millionaire Yanyakua Tuzo za Oscar

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  43. I’m an NRI and a lover of stories from all over the world. Some stories are about poor people, some stories are about rich people, some stories are realistic and others are utter fantasy. I thought Slumdog Millionaire was thoroughly entertaining, inspiring…and fictional. I wouldn’t use such an obvious fantasy to make broad assumptions about an entire country! We have poverty and violence here in the United States, too; such injustice is not unique to India.

    To me this story is not about the whole country but an individual for the slums made big by wining the show and over coming whatever obstacle; if let say the movie scene where not shot in India but US or UK it would mean the same because poverty is everywhere even in the UK people are suffering, but this story is about human spirit and triumph.

    Mariam Mohammed
    (An NRI)

  44. i liked ur posts;
    i am new to blogging and will like to post some of ur blogs in my blogging website;ofcourse wit credits;

    if u agree plz send me a mail;

    • You are free to provide a link to any post of mine if you have something to say on the same topic, but you don’t have my permission to copy text from my blog posts, even with “credit”.
      I notice you haven’t provided your blog’s url either..

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  46. i watched the movie and i think its one of the dumbest there is…..im not saying because im an Indian.I do accept the poverty shown in the movie because its there.I did not like it because its not worthy of winning 8 oscars.This movie is just like another Bollywood masala movie….which our own critics would have slammed if made in Hindi.The only reason the Indian critics are hailing it is because it got the pat and approval of the west……who do not want to think of India as an upcoming nation.They just want to stereotype us and make themselves beleive that we are poor and will always remain under their shoes….

      • so true…..these westerners think that india will stay under them forever…im hoping it’s not so…

      • As a European, I think this focus on stereotyping as a form of indirect subjugation is silly. People going to see the movie in Europe, North America, Australia etc will not be thinking quietly to themselves – “haha, look how poor they are. They shall always be under our control”. What nonsense. It was a very enjoyable, entertaining film which I felt captured the complexity and diversity of experience that is India and no way tried to paint the country in a negative light.

        I think what makes Indians uncomfortable is that the image of poverty depicted in the film is not a fabrication – it is reality. The glass-sheeted modernity of modern, middle class India has to represent a maximum of 10% of the population.

        Rough areas in Western cities are often depicted in American, British, French, Spanish movies etc. And you don’t see the public raising hell about it? The problem is that there is a major inferiority complex on the part of India at the moment – which is quite understandable given the relative youth of India as a modern nation-state.

        I say good luck to India in its development. If it works hard, develops itself over time, and begins to fix its cultural defects such as hypocrisy (Example: I met a number of Indian males while I was at Grad School in the US who had had sex with juniors at elite boarding schools (Doon, St Pauls) but were completely against gay rights etc), secrecy, caste-based forced marriage and corruption, it too can enjoy the standard of living that 90% of ordinary Europeans, Americans and Australians enjoy.

        The key to prosperity is transparency – politically, economically and SOCIALLY. It is this third social aspect of advancement that India has yet to master.

      • I’m a European, and thought the film was ok. I completely agree it was not worth all those Oscars. It was a palatable, unchallenging film for the masses in the west – like an attempt to format bollywood elements in a hollywood structure. Novel idea, a bit formulaic and nothing too deep. There were MUCH better films around at the time. The hero and heroine were 2-dimensional, but it was a film made for popularity, not really for any deeper artistic reasons. There was some nice camera-work & the basic idea was novel. Also, I wonder if the director will actually make a much deeper film about India in the future.

        People in the west are not ignorant to the poverty in large rapidly developing cities throughout the world, nor do they really care about ‘keeping india under their heel’. Post-colonial countries are not under the illusion that they have much power now, because its all determined by economics and china and india are massive economic power-houses that lead to large numbers of job losses in the west. With more travel national identity is really beginning to dissolve and people are moving to where there is work.

    • This movie is just like another Bollywood masala movie…
      which our own critics would have slammed if made in Hindi
      False. They have praised far worse.

      who do not want to think of India as an upcoming nation.They just want to stereotype us and make themselves beleive that we are poor and will always remain under their shoes….

      Don’t put intentions where there are none. West depicts India the way it sees it not the way it wants it to be. They don’t have that much time for India.
      India is insignificant.

      If I were to make a movie about Africa, it is far more likely to be about hunger, poverty & war. Does it mean I want to “stereotype Africa” or make them “believe”(!) they are poor? No. It just means Africa IS a predominantly poor country and presently IS under the shoe of westerners.
      Sure, Africa would have brighter sides too, but they are not as visible. And why should I care? I’m no patriotic African; I read a racy work of fiction about Africa, I see commercial potential and I make the movie. I do not give a damn about “real” Africa, nor does my audience. And why should I? Africa might have made some progress somewhere, but where does it stand in comparison to India? Africa is insignificant to me. I don’t have time to explore the “real” Africa. That does not mean I have anything against Africa. If an African Diplomat had written a racy work of fiction about brighter side of Africa I would have made a movie about that.

      • Wait….what?

        This movie is just like another Bollywood masala movie…

        You contradict yourself Particle…scroll down into my comments….where you say False…. ah well…

        Don’t put intentions where there are none. West depicts India the way it sees it not the way it wants it to be. They don’t have that much time for India.
        India is insignificant.

        Seriously? I think you were a different person while writing these comments…because the others you wrote are so much more sensible….India is insignificant? seriously? dude*…that was a pretty under-informed statement…I live in the west (I don’t know if you do too, but if you do, then I’d be reeeeaally confused) and yeah….India is not “insignificant”…and it is a little difficult to be “insignificant” with a consumer market of hundreds of millions of people….ah well…what market? we are only poor people who cannot take care of ourselves right? lmao

        * Call it conditioning if you will…I assume you are male from now on…correct me if I am wrong. Thanks.

      • I didn’t really understand what was your objection to my movie related comments, so can’t respond.

        About the consumer market of hundreds of millions: Arabs are significant because of the oil. Does that mean westerners have stopped depicting them as the medieval creatures they are? Should they?

      • Yea that was just one example. Don’t bring the middle east into this man, I don’t know what has to be done to the middle east. I was just flabbergasted by your comment everywhere about how India is insignificant, India does not count etc. I am just saying India is not as insignificant as you seem to think. You did not explicitly disagree with India being a huge consumer market, so I’ll assume you agree.

  47. Having seen the movie, I don’t think it is worth the Oscars!

    It has shock value & the Westerner’s get a “feel Good factor” by making such a big hype about it!

    Someone aptly called it poverty porn as it jolts you out of your safe & sterile world!

    • “Poverty Porn”. Interesting.

      I must say though that everybody like poverty porn, not just westerners. I recommend “Hotel Rwanda” for Indians. 😛

  48. I agree with alot of people out here. Its not worth all those oscars. It was like watching a movie that went straight to a DVD. It didnt capture India and the feeling of it. It made Indians look like violent people. Which is far from the truth. When i went to India everyone was so friendly and hospitibile. I have also read the book Q & A from Vikas Swarup. That book is believable and is a more accurate version of the story. I must admit certain things do happen in India and no one is ignoring it. Its a growing country, problems will occur but it was potrayed in a very bad light far from the book. I think the screenwriter hated India. especially Amitabh Bachan. Its a typical movie where a british person makes India look stupied and brought his colonial ways back as he made millions out of this movie. Exploiting Indian weaknesses.

  49. I’ve seen a litttle bit of the movie but I can still say that Taare Zammen Par was a LOT better and should won the Oscars.
    Mr. Boyle should have concentrated on the brighter aspects of India and made something more sensible like a documentary on Indian culture or something.
    As for the soundtrack, it was nothing all that impressive and shouldn’t really have really won all those accolades, specially Jai ho and O saaya.

    • “I’ve seen a litttle bit of the movie but I can still say that Taare Zammen Par was a LOT better and should won the Oscars.”

      I have seen a little bit of TZP & I can still say that Slumdog is a LOT better because I couldn’t even watch TZP for more than 15 minutes.

      “As for the soundtrack, it was nothing all that impressive and shouldn’t really have really won all those accolades, specially Jai ho and O saaya.”

      If Jai Ho can win Oscar, Rehman should be bagging at least 50 oscars by now. He IS a genius musician and deserves many oscars, but “Jai Ho” would count among his lowliest works.

      • Did you see Shwaas? Its a marathi movie and I watched it with subtitles… freakin’ amazing acting! Slumdog acting was like “nothing” compared to this movie…(well not nothing…but you know it was pretty good, probably better)

      • I agree. I don’t have high praise for Shwaas either but it was certainly superior to Slumdog. The child actor was brilliant though.

        Slumdog can be rightly placed besides other Boyle flicks like “The Beach” and “28 Days Later”. Interesting, entertaining, technically superb, but not oscar material.

  50. I guess i can perhaps tell what this Boyle fellow thought of.He caught hold of this decent Indian director to make a documentary about the “poor” people of the slums of the beautiful B town where everything is shadowed by the glitz and glamour of the Khans and Kapoors.He begged Anil Kapoor who was waiting for an international fame to come his way, got some rag pickers to work in a meagre amount in a documentary wherein he will show India in the best of light. He started shooting with this Dev Patel guy who cant even speak proper English leave alone HIndi ….and the cameras rolled. The film started and by the end all the Indian crew just couldnt back out when they realised what was actualy happening . And alas the film released in America …and the fairy just flicked the wand and this horrendous film became a hit. And then you could see Anil kapoor promoting his film.What else will he do apart from takin a lions share in the film or perhaps dancing at premiers .And then came the Baftas and the Oscars where all you could hear was Jai Ho.
    Well the question realy is that is this film really worth what a film worth being even in the category of what Titanic or Gone with the winds was of?ABSOLUTELY NOT! It is an outrageous film showing India in the poorest of light .It is like a noose around the Industry that produced films like Sholay or Deewar waiting to be hanged to death.Boyle should be shot to death .Accepting that it is an extremist thought but just because you possess a dirty white skin does nt mean you have a ticket to Oscars. India would rather not have an Oscar than be called a country of slum dwellers . I prefer being called a snake charmers land than the whole world telling me that India is where you can see slums.

    • I didn’t read your comment in full, because all of it can be compressed to: “I love India no matter how $$$$ it is and anyone who tells me so is evil”.

  51. I think the movie is a conspiracy to malign the image of India and propogate it worldwide… and what could be better way to do this than giving away 8 oscars!! I think it’s sheer jealousy stemming from global ecomomic climate. When the whole world is losing..India is still shining and thus the mud slinging!!

    • India is still shining and thus the mud slinging!!
      Sorry for what I am going to ask but “Are You Delusional?”

      In general global “climate” (which includes economic), India doesn’t count. It is a “developing” country and an “emerging” market. Conspiracies are made against “developed” countries.

  52. all the ****** who think this Movie is about India are morons and missed the point of the movie. its about the struggle of a poor boy who comes from nothing to realize a dream and the movie could have taken place in any country except the U.S.because it is happening everyday. The only reason so many Indian peope are upset is because it acurately depicts their pompous self righteous attitudes towards the poor. There isnt a place on earth where class is wielded more than in India it’s disgusting. india is a third world hellhole of a country and will remain so until the poor and disadvantaged are encouraged and embraced in their pursuit of wealth instead of being shut out because they are not wothy

    • You are free to write in your opinion on this blog, but there is no place for swear words here. I never edit comments but have to edit yours.

      • I wonder why people who call themselves “chodu” and use swear words are the only ones who make sense.

        Probably because they are driven senseless by the inanity around.

    • I have a question. Jamaal is a guy who’s been born and brought up in the slum and who doesn’t even know the meaning of the word ‘school’ so how on earth does he speak in English so fluently and is able to operate a computer?

    • you are a superior fool. You are the whole reason that this movie is a mistake. It leaves you to feel superior, the whole attitude you becry. Hypocrite.

  53. I have to say, what I’m reading here is a shame. Not the blog (which I agree with in whole) but the responses.

    This was a beautiful movie. It is very unique in being an R rated “Feel good” movie. I think that Indians hate it, because from what I have witnessed (from a third perspective) is that the their people feel somewhat embarrass that the country suffers from poverty, and prefer to ignore it.
    There is nothing shameful about being poor.

    • “the their people feel somewhat embarrass that the country suffers from poverty, and prefer to ignore it.
      There is nothing shameful about being poor.”

      There is nothing shameful about being poor. It is shameful & harmful not to accept it.

      • you are so retarded! I waS born in india and i have not seen much slums. before the british attacked us, we were the richest country on the whole earth. india is much better than that crappy movie. you should be ashamed

    • I agree. Its a beautiful movie.

      And as much as a patriot that I am, I’ll have to say this…our country is disgusting…there’s nothing to be proud of it. 1/3rd of the world’s poverty-striken people come from india. Its not surprising why anybody can form this perception of our country.

      And to top it all, the world’s richest also come for our country.

      Lets not ignore this problem and think India is great. Lets do something about the way countries perceive us by changing the demography accordingly.

  54. I vehemently disagree with d. We Indians do NOT hate the movie because we feel embarrassed or emotionally insecure when it comes to poverty. We hate it because we are sick and tired of narrow minded people perceiving our country as backward and lacking maturity and how people who perceive our country like that are rewarded with the highest accolades. Though I do agree that many Indians did not like the problem of poverty being shoved in their face like that. I can clearly understand the gravity of the poverty crisis in India and I am thinking of ways to solve it. My opinions concerning the movie are:

    I liked the movie because of the following reasons:
    1. It depicted some reality
    2. It reminded me of Satyajit Ray (film was nowhere close though…underline and italicize nowhere)
    3. It made millions of Indians face a part of the problem that they were not willing to face and I think recognizing the problem is one step towards solving it

    I do not like the fact that it was given Oscars and the hype because of the following reasons:
    1. Now the majority of the world will perceive India as a country engulfed in the atmosphere that was portrayed in the movie and that is utter nonsense
    2. Though the movie depicted a figment of reality in the city of Mumbai, it completely ignored most of the Indian life which takes place in the villages.
    3. Like some others said, it was just a typical bollywood masala movie that happened to have some connection with the west. The storyline was not notable at all.

    Jai Hind

    • 1. Now the majority of the world will perceive India as a country engulfed in the atmosphere that was portrayed in the movie ..

      It did so before the movie was made. Because it’s true.

      2. Though the movie depicted a figment of reality in the city of Mumbai, it completely ignored most of the Indian life which takes place in the villages.

      Dear Child, should Titanic have not won the oscars because it did not give include how the ship was constructed?

      3. Like some others said, it was just a typical bollywood masala movie that happened to have some connection with the west.

      It was a masala movie, that’s true, but MUCH better than bollywood ones and incomparable when it comes to technical aspects.

      Jai Hind

      Shouting this millions of times won’t change the fact that India is poor.

      • Hey,

        Thanks for the comments. I was hoping someone would make some interesting points and you did (lol on the chodu comment too. I am wondering the same thing). lol and yeah, I am going to be annoying and every one of my responses with Jai Hind

        Ans 1. It did so before the movie was made. Because it’s true.
        I beg to differ. I do not think all of India is not engulfed in such atmosphere. I mean, you should know right. Yes there are many poor people who live life miserably but not every little girl is sold off to a brothel is what I meant and not every little boy is swimming in fecal matter and “true India” is not all grim and grimy. Jai Hind.

        Ans 2. Dear Child, should Titanic have not won the Oscars because it did not give include how the ship was constructed?
        Ship being constructed is a technicality. I am not asking anyone to show how my country was constructed, if that’s what you meant. If the movie Titanic was interpreted in a way to suggest that every ship met the same fate as itself, people who build ships would be upset and it would not be worth the Oscar. Jai Hind.

        Ans 3. It was a masala movie, that’s true, but MUCH better than bollywood ones and incomparable when it comes to technical aspects.
        I agree the technical aspect (especially cinematography) was far beyond anything bollywood will achieve. But, what I meant was it was a typical cheesy movie. My bad. Jai Hind.

        Comment 1. Shouting this millions of times won’t change the fact that India is poor.
        No just shouting Jai Hind wont. But I like saying it. Jai Hind.

        And once more, say it with me, lmao
        Jai Hind.

      • Correction:

        Instead of:

        lol and yeah, I am going to be annoying and every one of my responses with Jai Hind


        lol and yeah, I am going to be annoying and end every one of my responses to your responses with Jai Hind

        Thanks again for replying…had this discussion with many of my friends who think like you too…helped me a lot!

      • i dont know to which country do you belong, but i am sure your country must have faced the same problems which we are facing right now when your nation was young
        i more important thing never disrespect any nation ever

  55. I was born in and grew up in new zealand and faced heaps of racism as a child. Oh, India is full of slums and beggars, you all burn brides, you have a caste system, you only live to 40 years, you worship cows. This kind of negative stereotyping of India is nothing new and is reprehensible. A villian and hero cliche is not a CULTURAL stereotype. White people mock us for having a caste system but those who teased me for this hates ALL indians regardless of caste so how hypocritical to say we have a caste system? In the bible itself tehre are pharisees, levites etc all different birth-given social roles, which was all caste was, an attempt to order society by roles.

    Australia always bangs on about the caste system. It was outlawed in the 1950s but the Australian White Only policy vontinues to the 70s. Hypocrites.

    I can’t stand such movies and books and I can’t stand white people going to India and trying to save it, the same white people who spat on me when I was little for being Indian. India has 1 billion people, we have enough people to save the sick and poor. Stay and look afgter your own country.

  56. Over all I would say it was a good movie. Like I know what you guys means of that they just showed the poor parts of India and not the good parts, but would we really complain about it that much if an indian made it. I know that their are people who are rasist to indians, I was born and raised in America. There are racist people, but I have heard from my cousin that its a lot worse in Australlia. I may have been born and raised in America, but I still love visiting India and go there like every year. So I can understand why you guys and my parents, and many other people might feel offended. But I don’t think race matters I can kind of see both sides of the story. The Americans have a right to make a movie about what they want and of course they’re going to award oscars to movies most people in America have heard of. Sorry if this comment offends anyone i’m just giving you my opinion.

    • Hi, I do respect your opinions and I don’t think race matters either. The following are just some thoughts I had after reading your post. I take objection to the part about the race of the person who made the movie. I am referring you, of course, to Satyajit Ray. He made movies about abject poverty also. He won an oscar for his movies too, if that adds something of value to his work (I don’t think so anymore). But he also managed to capture the “life” in Indians as a people and developed the characters with great panache. That is the reason we are not complaining, we agree with that depiction despite its negativity regardless the race of Ray (We like Steven Spielberg, Jackie Chan, Will Smith etc. too if that helps make the point more explicit). This movie (SM) on the other hand I think utterly ignores those kinds of deep issues to make India look like a place (I refer to the satire on “real India” by a small child in the movie) filled with dereliction, corruption, pillage and nothing much else in a cliched movie. I believe that when such a severely biased and skewed depiction of any country is given the (supposedly) highest accolades in the field, that leads the populace of the country in question to respond by asking the innocent question: Why? and I think that’s what people like me and your parents are asking in our minds. Great acting, strange movie. We are all just apprehensive of the social implications of the awards around the world.

    • Sorry if this comment offends anyone i’m just giving you my opinion.

      Not at all. This is only the third SANE comment I’ve come across.

  57. I live in America, and I have to say that I was deeply moved by the depictions of the poor parts of India. India is growing so fast in so many ways, but like any prosperous nation, they face the same challenges. Some will be left behind by progress. On one hand, it would seem as though we could say, “Only the strong survive”, but it is more proper to reach out to help those less fortunate. To help those who cannot help themselves (not the thieves, but those who truly are too weak to rise above their circumstances).

    If anything, Slumdog is a great story, but that is it. It is a story. Yet, it has made many Americans think about how much need their is in other nations. Perhaps the people in USA and India can work together to make these problems better.

    • I absolutely agree that poverty should be fought both globally as well as locally. I just had one question though: What did you mean by “it has made many Americans think about how much need their is in other nations”. Is the word “their” a typo for ‘there’ or did you mean ‘their need’? I am sorry but clarifying that helps me understand your comment better. Thank you very much! 🙂

    • I appreciate your sentiments, but no thanks. A country which can not prosper on its own doesn’t deserve to reach the top. Your help will only make this country dependent on your country.

  58. Indians have to be the biggest hypocrites in the world. “Why don’t they show all of Mumbai?” Do Indian movies show the impoverished parts when they are focusing on rich people? No, in fact there very little Indian movies that show poverty at all. I know that india is developing, but don’t kid yourselves, because most indian’s live in poverty (the number is 700,000,000). So idk why your so shocked to see poor people because i know you see them every day… You guys are just mad, because the true india was depicted. Hindu extremists and all. Yeah it must be shocking not to see the Muslims as the extremists right? Awesome movie!

    • You are the kind of people I am most afraid of for the sake of my country. You think what was depicted in the movie was reality itself (It is not. The movie was a work of fiction). I know you are upset by Hindu fanatics and trust me, so am I. I also agree the stereotyping of our Muslim brothers and sisters as extremists in many movies is grossly unfair since I have many Muslim friends in family myself (growing up in places like Hyderabad and Mumbai). But, I am deeply upset you used the phrase “true India” of which you seem to have no idea yourself. By the way, I think the movie Mr. and Mrs. Iyer does more justice to Hindu fanatics (depicts them as the monsters that they are!), I recommend it. Once again, I am happy you enjoyed the movie because it was a good work of fiction but I am sad you think that is all there is to reality in India. I do not think it was intended to be a documentary. With all due respect: We, Indians, are not so shocked by the movie so much as we are shocked by people like you making ignorant statements about an entire country of 1.2bn people. Please, there is enough bitterness involved without you introducing the age old fight between the monotheistic and polytheistic religious fanatics.

      • “You are the kind of people I am most afraid of for the sake of my country.”

        You are the kind of people because of whom I stopped bothering about the fate of my country.
        My country has no future unless my people accept that my country stinks and start to clean the dirt.

      • I agree with you. I only said that because I was afraid people would start thinking that the “true India” is what is portrayed in the movie and that is all there is to our country. I think you should not stop bothering about the fate of our country just because I said something disagreeable to you. And how do you propose we clean the mess? I was thinking maybe go into the civil services….tough exam though…

    • True. But don’t tell it to Indians; they eat, sleep & drink Bollywood which is worse than Hollywood C-graders.
      Should I add that I say this as an Indian?

      • 😀 I know…I was tempted to comment positively to that thought! (Which no doubt would have resulted Particle chastising the daylights out of me). But yeah I agree it was a better movie than a bolly flick.

  59. i love the movie
    i am indian and it explains the real india
    not the bollyood portrayal of india but the raw, disturbing factors of the country.
    it is an eye opener and i think good has com of the movie. more people have tried to help slow the poverty by sponsoring.
    The movie was also BRILLIANT!!
    only the “indians” who want to see india become worse in the next few days think its offensive.

  60. This Particle guy is just a wimp who goes out of his way to malign India, just like the movie does. I donot say anything that is portrayed is false, but it’s not the entire truth either. Self-Loathing Indians like you who just sit and clog cyberspace with your idiotic comments and gloat everytime the country is insulted are the real reason this country isn’t progressing. If you feel so strongly about these issues, why the hell don’t you do something about it? But isn’t your job, is it? It is for “Us Indians” to change things, right?
    Hypocrite. Well if you don’t care to actually do make a change, then please stop your useless bla-bla. Pontificating about Poverty and “Indian Filth” while sitting on your cushy chair acquiring adipose on your butt only makes YOU look stupid. As does using a 3-hr long film to portray 1 billion people as -what do you say-stinkers?
    So, spare us your mudslinging, will you? Not that it affects anybody, but it sure is a heck of a task cleaning up.

    And wow. there is a Paki here as well . 70% Indians BPL, you say?
    Now THAT’S funny. A Pakistani lecturing on poverty,communalism,extremism! ROTFL

    I would love to know what the arm-chair expert Particle has to say here.
    99% Indians BPL, right?We’re all half-naked imbeciles swimming in faeces, that is why I’m able to use a computer, right?

    Ya I am being rude, I know. I may even be banned. But heck I care.

  61. I donot say anything that is portrayed is false, but it’s not the entire truth either.

    The movie is a work of fiction, it’s not about India. Try to understand that first and then start bothering about insanely difficult issues like India’s progress.

    I go out of my way not to malign India but to shut the mouths of those who blame outsiders for their misery rather than accepting that they themselves are not good enough. And that’s the real reason behind all your anger: I’ve told people like you they are not good enough.

    • “I go out of my way not to malign India but to shut the mouths of those who blame outsiders for their misery rather than accepting that they themselves are not good enough.”

      Particle, you are not making any sense. No one is blaming anyone about India’s poverty problem! (Correct me if I am wrong Bored Indian) Everyone understands it is a Hollywood movie (fiction). We are only saying: stop giving the movie a “documentary” or a “true story” status. And what’s the problem in that when you, yourself say that it is a work of fiction? Treat it like one. In Churchill’s view Gandhi was a half-naked fakir, in almost all Indians’ view, he is no less than the father of their nation. In reality he was both a great leader and half naked. We are only asking people to be a little more receptive to the positives instead of blindly glorifying everyone(thing) who(that) portrays your skewed “real India” (or whatever you call it) to the world. I call it the highly impoverished part of India that needs us instead of using your baseless terms of sweeping generalization like “real India”, “true India” etc. And mind you, because the movie has now gained international repute, this is not just a matter of euphemisms or semantics anymore. People around the world will watch our reaction and if we, Indians, say that’s how all of India is, they’ll believe us. That, to me, is a big problem because that’s clearly not true as Bored Indian (rather strongly) suggested. Some parts in the movie are no more or less real than any other parts of India. I don’t think I need to tell you that there are certain things in India that you or any other sensible person might find positive (If you cannot find anything positive in the country, you are one depressed person my friend). And yes, it is one heck of a job cleaning the mess people implant in the heads of others who have never been to India and causes those outsiders to quickly generalize 1.2bn people! Trust me! I know!

      By the way, nothing I said here was personal so far. But the following might just be. I just want you to know that I intend no offense. You said that because of people like me (who happen to have a little hope for India and think that there are things there that need to be cherished), you stopped caring about the fate of our country. With all due respect, I think you just gave yourself an answer to the contrary. You stopped caring about our country because you think India’s progress is an “insanely difficult” issue in the first place. Looks like you just need someone to blame for your inaction. So, you blame people like me.

      On a lighter note, I think that India’s progress is not only achievable, it is inevitable. Please have a little hope and faith in your people. See Nandan Nilekani’s talk on TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/nandan_nilekani_s_ideas_for_india_s_future.html
      He also explains why India cannot be as “insignificant” as you seem to understand.

    • Hey particle, u so full of s*** ! why dont you shut the F*** up and be a hypocrite somewhere else. India is a great country and u dont deserve to talk about it. so please shut it up.

  62. Listen Particle Dude, I may not be good enough, but I’m not entirely worthless either. When you write nonsense like “My country has no future”, it only shows your frustration because you’re inert. And you’re blaming us for your inertia. People like you demoralize the rest of the country with your pathetic diatribes. You’re hoping India doesn’t make any progress because then it’ll be a disaster for you because you’ll have nothing to bitch about. The things portrayed in SDM exist all around the world. Maybe it’s more widespread in India, but it would only highlight your intellectual poverty if you say it exists only in India. What I didn’t like is the irresponsibility and the hubris of the filmmaker there and the idiocy of people like you. When did I ever “blame” anyone for my misery?? You’re simply imagining things in your negativity and closedness. You’re frustrated because India and Indians are not as worthless as you thought they were.
    Like I said earlier, you’re content writing in an obscure area of cyberspace sitting comfortably on your ever adipose gaining ass. If you really bothered, you’d be in our trenches doing something. Fine, vegetate. Sling more mud. But it’s really loser to prevent others from doing something about the country and its issues. And that is exactly what you’re trying to do. I really can’t comprehend why. You want everyone else in India to wallow in your anger about India’s negative areas and ignore its positive aspects.With you.

    Anyway, let this not-so-good person guarantee you that he will do his best to clean-up the filth in this country. Reply. I’m sure you’re going to say “The filth cannot be cleaned up”.

    Man I really pity such a tortured soul. Really.

    • I have nothing against India but I have everything against people like you. People like you don’t want to accept that India stinks simply because it will hurt your pride. You want to claim superiority for yourself by claiming the same for your country. That’s why you get pissed off when someone shows dark aspects of your country to the world. Don’t tell me you are doing great patriotic work when all you are trying to do is save your face from the world that’s now laughing at you. And how are you doing it? Not by cleaning the filth but by trying to deny it as much as possible.

      See Bored Indian, I don’t respond to the arguments as much to the mindsets behind them. You are just another of those fakes who don’t really want to do anything for India but want to pretend that they do. (That’s the difference between you and me: I at least don’t pretend.) I know people who actually love India and actually spare some of their time to do something for India and who actually make me feel guilty even though I’m openly opposed to ideas like patriotism. You are not one of them. You just say you will try to clean as much filth as you can, but all that you do is find people like me whom you can blame and make such claims to.

      I do not blame people like you for my inertia, I blame them for their denial of India’s problems. You see, once you accept that you stink, you automatically go to the shower. But no, you don’t want to accept that you stink, you want to believe that others are throwing dirt on you. You don’t want to see Dharavi and you want to hide it from the world too. Unfortunately once in a while someone notices and instead of accepting that the filth is constantly with us and it is going to spoil India’s image as long as it’s there, you vilify the ones who noticed it. Wow!

      I’m not frustrated because I’m inert; I’m frustrated because my countrymen don’t even have the courage to accept their flaws. I don’t demoralize the country I just refuse to live in a fantasy land. And I hope that India doesn’t make any progress because it doesn’t have what it takes to be a developed country. And no, I don’t really bother; I will start bothering when my countrymen will first accept that they stink. Also, I’m not preventing anyone from working for India’s progress, I just don’t want to take that bullshit from those who merely pretend to.

      And yes, I want people to wallow in anger over India’s negative areas because that’s the only way to progress I know of. As for the so-called positive aspects of India… man it only shows how negative India’s negative areas are that Indians celebrate a boom in economy thanks to slave work of outsourcing.

      Tell you what, I have far more respect for residents of Dharavi than for people like you. People there at least accept that they are poor and fight to be prosperous. People like you just want to pretend they are not poor and in so doing are actually stalling India’s progress.

  63. You’re again putting words in my mouth .

    When I said “Positive aspects”, I didn’t mean “outsourcing”. I know how pathetic it is. We’re actually nothing but glorified phone-operators. Unfortunately the the media hypes things too much . Look I know “we stink” to a great extent, in many ways. But regardless of what you think, I’m actually going to “go to the shower” and make others go too. I never said I didn’t “want” people to “see” Dharavi. Anyway my talking is not going to change the lives of the people there. I’ve already started Civil Services Prep, I intend to appear once I graduate. Now you’ll doubtless say “I’m bluffing”. You’re simply imagining things and expect us all to do the same.

    Majorly, I liked the movie as such but it wasn’t too different from the typical Bollywood crap. But I love Bollywood. It’s crap but atleast it takes your mind off the crap of day-to-day life. Yes I didn’t like the way the movie tried to generalize, and in a way I found it a bit offensive. My previous comments hardly said anything about the movie per se, they were all replies to your condescending trash. Yes I did say the moviemakers-maybe unknowingly- protrayed a skewed picture of India, which I didn’t like.(But I somehow detected a bit of sinisterness, but maybe I was just being paranoid.) Just like I didn’t like it when our media started branding Australia “Racist” (I guess you’re aware), I didn’t like it when this White fellow starts making a movie showing all of us the way he did.

    The cause of all my anger is not “because you told me I’m good enough”, or your saying “I’m pretending not to be poor”(Well, fortunately I’m not), it’s because you started insulting people like me and “Srinivasa” who desire to bring about a change instead of whining alongwith you. You’re not bothered, fine. I am. And I wish to change it. Save your breath, Particle. Your idiotic comments about my “pretentiousness” is not going to affect anyone, and not me in the slightest.

    Ya the positive aspects: Natural beauty. Unassuming people. Vibrant youth. The FOOD. (I’m not going to say “Culture” because I hate it when we brag about our supposedly great “culture”. It’s mocking the other nations and hiding our own feeling of inadequacy at not being as prosperous as them. I must say, I have to agree with you here. I’ve seen it around me and I cringe everytime it happens.) But I have a very simple principle. Don’t bitch about things you can’t change (or in your case, don’t want to change.) It was you who veered the whole discussion to “India’s issues” and the “real India”. And felt it necessary to open my mouth when I see such drivel, as what is spewn by you.

    Yes, these aspects are strong enough to outweigh the negative points of the country, atleast for me . Yet I donot ignore the many negative points of the nation, and I want to change them. Period. Maybe you’re simply a sick person because you’ll again start about how “people like Bored Indian desire to possess a sense of superiority by making tall claims.”

    What the heck,man. I want to change India. Maybe I may not succeed, maybe it’s not enough. But atleast I want to try. It’s my life and I can smoke pot or join IAS, can’t I? Why the f**k do you care, dawg?

    • Just curious about when you are graduating…because I am thinking about civil services too and I am clueless as to how to go about doing it. I took a look at the exam. It looks tough. Do you know of any good site etc?

  64. I have a very simple principle: Don’t tie yourself with the fate of your country. Make yourself strong enough so that you can survive all the filth around you. Unfortunately I’m an ordinary man and there are limits to how strong I can make myself and how “inert” I can be to outside filth. And it’s when I see people like you denying the filth that I lose my calm and make a point of going out of my way to shut their traps.

    And I didn’t insult people like you, you weren’t even there when I made my comments. You were the one who felt insulted and since my manner of comments were specifically directed against the fakes and idiots, I have no option but to conclude that you are one. I was wrong about “Srinivasa” but he brought it upon himself by his zealot-style Jai Hind.

    I’ve been frank enough to say that I don’t even want India to make progress because it doesn’t have what it takes to make progress. If I were in your place I would have concentrated my energies on slamming this claim. But you are solely focused on attacking me personally. Because just like SDM & Danny Boyle, you are not really angry about Dharavi you are angry with people like me who force you to look at it.

    Lastly, I am gonna take your advice to save my breath. Because I’m no psychotherapist to bring you out of your denial. You’ll have to come out of it yourself; then only you can effect the change that you claim to seek. You can blame me for not being the psychotherapist, but as I said I’m just an ordinary man, I can only point out to you that you are in denial.

    @ Srinivasa: I have been meaning to respond to you but the trouble is that you are not one of those whose mouth I want to shut! So it will take me some time. 🙂

  65. For quite some time I was trying to appreciate my own feelings about this movie SM. I did not like the movie to any worthwhile degree.

    I accept Indian poverty the way it exists and don’t hide behind any glass mirages. I accept that any literary piece would focus only on a strand of social issues and not every possible facet. I accept that a work of fiction is not an educational documentary that it should present a balanced view. A work of fiction is somebody’s perception. Fictional accounts often, to the benefit of mankind, are exaggerated dramatizations of solitary social phenomenon, individual frailties or qualities etc.

    Having accepted these tenets I still do not like the movie. Let me attempt to articulate my own feelings now as I write this piece. I have heard someone labeling the movie as a poverty-porn. I should be able to explain my feelings in the light of my understanding of this label.

    It would help to appreciate the difference between erotic literature (I use literature to refer to all presentation mediums) and pornographic literature.

    Erotic literature does not force titillation into a story line, it merely captures where titillation exists by itself. Furthermore it captures titillation within the context of a self flowing energy stream.

    Pornographic literature on the other hand is a disconnected stitching of various tittilatory vignettes. It forcefully induces a current through artificial means to heighten the titillation.

    Now I suppose it is a matter of personal choice – what turns you on? Pornography was never my cup of tea.

    SM deploys a technique that one could expect to find in crime thriller or pulp mystery kind of plots. So far so good but then it attempts to elevate it to the level of meaningful literature by introducing a ‘poor victim’ angle. That is when (when it starts to elevate and stitches disconnected episodes together to intensify titillation) the disconnect starts to develop in my mind and I loose my sensory stimulus.

    The end result is – sorry SM we won’t go to bed.

  66. Hello, yes, I am one of those people who reject Slumdog Millionaire [SM] completely. First of all India, as it is today, is a result of western colonialism in the recent past. Today’s people in India probably embrace western values like riches, so they might sell everything to make money. That’s ok with me. But what’s not ok with me is that children at the age of 4 allready sell other’s emotional belongings to profit themselves. At least, that is shown in SM. So SM suggest that even India’s infants are morally corrupted. Why, because in SM they see no other example than grown ups who abuse children.

    In my opinion, this is a shameless projection on India of the western world’s own moral failure. Haven’t we all heard of mass child abusement in the catholic church? Of the Dutroux’s and Fritzl’s terror cellars? Of the mentality “those are not my children so why bother”?

    SM suggest that India’s children are literaly willing to go through shit to get what they want. Well, it is us, western society, who does that, not literal because we have the power to stay “clean”.

    Is the fun of seeing SM “watching monkeys” and afterwards going safely home in suburbia?

    I don’t believe that inhibitants of India’s slums are child molestors. And if they are, they are no worst than we, after all, we created modern India. Or India has copied us, cuz they have no other option in world economics.

    So when SM’s protagonist finally gets what he is after, is that worth 100 minutes of terror against children? No, and this is defenitely not what I call balance.

    I know cruelty against children exists in this world. What I oppose to is that this problem is used in pop video clip style to be able to sell it to the unaware public. We recognize the fast images, digitally captured in blinding brilliant colors and livelyness. It’s our language telling a story that is thankfully not ours. WRONG, it is sadly our own story.

    Underneath mister Danny Boyle’s fast cut piece of India lies colonialism and discrimination.

  67. I surmise,while Srinivas,Bored Indian are upset on patriotic basis,Vicharak slams it at an artistic level.Particle appreciates the way it forces us to look within ourselves for the rot that’s there in any case.I relate to all perspectives about SM.

    I live abroad and many Indians I know,including my spouse himself hate the movie for reasons like that of Srinivas & Bored Indian. Though giving away so many Oscars to a very mediocre film did seem sinister to me initially,the reactions of Indians really surprise me.As Particle says we are in self-denial to some extent.Forget the Oscar.Who cares,anyway?Does it award
    the best work each year.Pretty contentious. For instance,A R Rahman’s music being awarded for this work seems a joke.That’s a man whose work has outdone the SM work several times over before. Does everyone here endorse Oscars as the best test for quality movie-making?

    Can we consider the Oscars as less significant in our patriotic lifes and focus on our work on breaking a sweat for reducing the corruption,poverty,religious divide,state divide and casteism?While India still is a beautiful in my eyes,I will not wither at anyone’s portrayal of it,but that doesn’t mean I will sleep on that belief either.

  68. I don’t hate Slumdog just the Western paternalistic do-gooder mindset. Indians should have some self-respect and not behave in a fawning manner everytime Whitey speaks high of us. That isn’t possible as long as English remains our national language. Unlike other Asian countries, India is still viewed as an ex-colony of Britain.

  69. I think the movie was okay but very much over-hyped..because it didn’t deserve ALL the awards it got…like Jai Ho is not that good a song if you compare it to A.R. rehman’s previous music scores. Also the dance in the end was by far the crappiest I’ve seen *pukes*. Okay the little kids were cute while dancing but the rest looked like idiots..and the dances in other movies are soo much cooler 🙂
    I think people should not believe all they see in movies coz’ remember, if we go by what films show about america..it wouldn’t exactly paint a pretty picture either..

  70. when we compare the storyline in vikas swarups Q &A and boyles sdm
    the first one is an indian perspective and the latter as western
    in the former, the person taking the hero to the police is an american,
    but boyle changed the storyline to suit his western audiences.
    In the original the child is abused in a church, and his name contains all the religions.
    Boyle just wanted to present a story in which the western couldnot shown in bad light

    • Agni, I have no idea which book you read but it sure was not Vikas Swaups ” Q&A” which is much much better than the movie. The child was abused in a church? He was abandoned in a church and was christened Thomas by the Jesuit Father. But then the local hindu and muslim leaders turn-up . The child is named “Ram Mohamed Thomas” and everyone is happy ! He was abused..indeed!! If you read the book, then you would have realized what could have been done and what was actually done. Boyle made a mess out of the novel. And all those incidents like swimming in feces to get a superstar’s picture was never there in the book. Danny Boyle has a fertile imagination but I wish that he would not exercise too much of imagination when he talks about my country.

  71. Pingback: Bad light stalls India’s progress « Asianetindia.com Blog

  72. Well most Indians hate the movie, cuz it Sucks. Not cuz of its depiction only. But its a story that has been overdone and the whole story lineup was a overkill of gargantuan proportions.
    The story sucks. I have no problem with showing Slums.
    Plus Dharavi is a wonder, its the only Slum that contributes 10% of a State’s income and is self sufficient, plus its growing.
    Not pretty but strangely Intriguing, thats Dharavi

  73. What Mr. Boyle showed in slumdogg millionaire was UTTER PIECE OF SHIT…..thts the problems wid brits…they think tht india is still a place where men roam around wearing turbans and curly slippers and kids roam around naked in the streets….first of all, lemme tell u …GDP of india is waaaayyyy more higher thabn tht of the UK in today’s date…..secondly, ppl like Mr. Ratan Tata and his team are the ones who own the “pride” or the “icon” of british technology…..mr. boyle didnt wanted to show tht…these brits still want the world to think tht india is a backward nation…..cuz tht makes them look superior as they were kicked out of here insultingly years back…….now i noe my comments may not be related tot he movie but honestly, when the movie finished, i flung the remote at my dvd player……i was that pissed….so mr. boyle, u may have win many oscars cuz of tht movie…….but for us indians, u are and will remain a complete “ARSE”…………..

  74. Well honestly I agree that movie might be a little bit of hype but the fact is that India is a poor country and needs lots of development. Now let me explain my point of view which makes western countries great. You don’t have to be a smart ass or you dont have to be a stereotype to live a decent life. Pretty much every body with any kind of job may be a foodcourt job or Corporate office job can earn decent amount and is treated with respect. Bill Gates, worlds richest man eats the same kind of lays packet chips what the average american eats. But on the other hand in India rich people eat good quality rice and poor doesnt have food. So this difference between rich and poor is widening day by day and is not good.
    I travelled a lot all over the world as a part of my job. I realized why asia or i would say more depth, indian subcontinent is poor or remain poor bcos at a certain age in persons life everybody gets married and have kids typically between 25 to 30 atleast in urban areas for men. Even if he does not want to get married or does not earn enough money for himself still gets married. I have nothing against getting married but have children with no money left in his pocket to feed them. So guess what the country goes in further poverty. So these stereotypes brings country in trouble. I am not blaming the indian culture its the society.
    India has long history of war and invasion. So back in the days of war massive amount of people used to be killed, resulting effect on culture where people used to get married and have kids a lot, but in modern world that is turning out into a overpopulation.
    For same reasons China came up up with a rule of one child, I dont know how far it is working. Bottomline is our society is bringing us in trouble. Overpopulation brings the resources problems and everything. Because of stereotypes we have doctors and engineers but no real research, fact is no body follows what there heart, every body is busy getting college degress and decent job .
    Now what i am doing to improve this. I think india needs to focus on reducing its population or overburden. Abortion made be a bad thing according to some religions but i think its a good thing in india. So i donate money to hospitals and money for free condoms. Things need to be done are— Cleaniness as a part of everybodies job not just pay money and get it cleaned. Everybody should clean there front and backyard rather depending on the government to clean it. may be i will write more in my next comment. Your comments will be hghly appreciated. Once again try to accept your mistakes, only then you can improve.

  75. We Indians are not even true to ourselves – we give excuses but the fact of the matter is
    the reason most of us do not like Slumdog Millionaire is because it depicts accurately
    true picture of poverty, crime and corruption in India. I lived in India and I go to India
    regularly – the moment your aircraft arrives – the smell in bombay you want to throw up –
    Go the Dharavi in Bombay or any slum which is usually 35 – 40% of any ciites residents live
    or forced to live – go to any city be it Madras, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Lucknow or
    Calcutta to name a few – do visit the chopad patti and then you’ll know how true is
    Slumdog Millionarie

  76. Rishab has it pat. Do the PIOs living out there know that Dharavi has been identified as a post-modern miracle in urban planning terms? It is an original, self-developed self-sustaining eco-social unit, and is now marked for wholesale re-development. That this exercise will take time and end up blowing potloads of money is another matter. Town planners across the world are agreed on this. Slumdog Millionaire was just another ordinary movie with a cliche-ridden Bollywood format, which shot to prominence just because it was packaged by a Westerner for Western audiences. The slums and poverty were not the issue in this movie.

  77. Ohkay , so this whole argument is going nowhere
    first as an indian , i would say whatever has been depcted it is true but this doesn’t mean foreigners start thinking this is the real india , there is another india , why do we people start thinking negatively , first to remove anything we need to think positively , if you can accept that india has poor people you also HAVE to accept india has rich people and it’s BOOMING . cmon look at other countries lets take USA , yes it is developed but look at the number of people it has killed in iraq and afghanistan , that is never depicted in any movie and also ignored , why is this TRUE usa, ignored? (no offence US people) . so many people around the world (US and europe) are racist towards asians but they never show this , its only a bunch of asian movies which show that and in other movies too only the prosperities of the US or other countries are shown . you dont have anything to say about that ? and yes the indians who are trying to be patriotic by saying india has poor people , yes i accept it but atleast dont keep on highlighting that and supporting foreigners when they are saying bad about this country , if indians insult other countries by telling the truth to the people of that country , even then they would stop you , they know the truth but cant hear bad about their country . and slumdog millionaire is a movie which was just another love story with a hollywood touch , but i guess it was fully concentrating on the poor side , cmon there is also a rich india and all the indians dont you have anything to do other than insulting your own motherland, even captain of north korean team cried when their anthem was being played at the fifa wc and the whole world knows about north korea . please i know the movie depicted the truth but doesnt mean you keep on insulting india . it will take time and one day it will be a great country and i know that . jai hind

  78. Just stumbled on this excellent article, looking for information on the Arras Theme. You could substitute the words Detroit for India, and African Americans for Indians, and it would be equally valid, with the same arguments on both sides! 😉

    Love the blog and keep it up!

  79. I say the movie was made to reflect a different prespective.A person living in the slums ends up in the hotseat of Indian version of Who wants to be a millionare.He chooses to play so that he can send a message to his loved one.

    A struggle,a sweet love story and a dirty underworld.In the middle of that a noble soul and a love tries to surface.This movie was never about poor India but yes I do agree that the director could have done a better job if he had depicted India in a litte better way specially when the film was targetted towards a broader category of Indians.

    But no matter what I can assure you that this movie alone cant change India’s image to the rest of the world.What is India?One of the world’s ancient civilizations which started back around 3400BCE and still continues to exist.A country that has just regained its freedom for the past 64 years.A country where 26 different languages ares spoken.A nuclear super power.Lots and lots more……..I dont want to sound like Akshay Kumar in Namastay London..But once again I assure you that India means much more that what depcied in the movie

  80. This is an old blog entry i know..but leaving my thoughts here on the movie..like Srinivas commented,it is not the movie that is wrong.It is a fact that slums exist in India.I’m glad the movie highlighted it as well since there are so many Indians who preach high things abt the country totally whitewashing any ills our country may have.But what I disliked was the Oscar being given to it,as clearly,in no way did it seem Oscar-worthy in it’s technical or storytelling depts. Rather,it just seemed like a pre-conceived plan to pat America on it’s own back for being slum-less given that,at the time, it’s economy and reputation was in ruins,and countries like India and China were/are growing quick and attracting a good deal of international fame.

  81. Well I certainly do not hate it. But there are some problems in the script. If you read the book “Q amp; A” you will be able to judge for yourself. I am certainly not ashamed of my country’s poverty..that is true..Whatever Danny Boyle has portrayed is surely all true.
    My only adverse suggestion is that Danny Boyle has gone to so absurd heights that one can’t help feeling that the poverty market is what Boyle is aiming at. For instance, was it really necessary to show the young protagonist swimming through human excreta to get the autograph of Bachhann. I agree that that it is possible but it is not probable. There are slight nuances like this all over the script..
    But why do we debate about it so? Its a foreign movie made by a brit ..so it’s bound to be inaccurate. Lets try to be like China and perform instead of debating. The adage “Actions speak better then words” is actually true. And as a clarification, I’m not a NRI and I live in Kolkata.

  82. I have many friends with gujarati, indian parents, but they themselves were born outside. These people are sooo over-confident, and they never believe that they are wrong, and never accept it when they are. When they fail, they blame others around them. They talk like they know everything and they have nothing to show for it. Another thing is that they are soooooooo lazy and procrastinate soooo much. They know this, but when you ask them to admit it, they refuse. Plus, when you get into an argument with them about whether or not they were wrong, they constantly steer the blame around them instead of just accepting it.

    • I am an American born Indian and I also feel like I can see both sides of the argument. I don’t think it matters that a British person made this movie at all. I think that Danny Boyle did a phenomenal job. I have lived in India extensively and I am quite comfortable and happy being in India despite the fact that I am a born and raised American. I think that if Danny Boyle had made a movie that covered the rest of India/the more rich side, people would have found faults with that and said that he avoided the poverty. Let’s keep in mind this movie is based off of a book. The book is about a person who grew up in the slums and somehow managed to find his way out. Why should the movie not focus on the poverty in India? It makes no sense, that’s what the story is about. The movie isn’t trying to say India is only full of impoverished people, it’s trying to say the story of this particular person is that of an impoverished life. A rags to riches story. The movie is a movie after all. It is both blatantly realistic and blatantly ridiculous.

      I think it’s also wrong to say that if this movie was made by an Indian it would not have been famous. Look at Lagaan, that movie is both Indian in production and in content. It was nominated for an Oscar. It is one of my favorite films even including English films and it was made by Bollywood. I think that Bollywood is full of crap films and so it is rare to find the gem films that could be nominated for an Oscar. Also the fact that they are generally considerably longer doesn’t help. Hollywood films usually average about 2 hours, so I think people get drained watching Indian films even if they are great. And Hollywood too has it’s own slippery slopes. Why does a movie made by a British director or French director get nominated for a best Oscar? The Oscars are after all American, so what is the criteria for one movie becoming nominated for the Best Film when it is not made by an American or may not even focus on America? I think that that’s something that the Oscars have never actually written a criteria for you know? So it’s weird when a movies like Slumdog comes along which is not only not made by an American and has no American stars, but also is about a completely different country and still gets a Best Picture nomination instead of a foreign film nomination? Perhaps because the film is in English? It’s just weird. I guess it’s hard to categorize things.

      Nevertheless, the reason that I love Hollywood films is because they focus on the characters, the in-depth emotions and thoughts of the characters which I am sorry to say until recently has been extremely lacking in Indian cinema. That’s not to say that it does not exist. These days, there are so many great Indian films coming out and films are becoming more about the art and craft rather than just making a film for entertainment. Movies like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara, The Dirty Picture, Kahaani, Dil Chahta Hai, Lagaan etc. These movies are Bollywood made but phenomenal, because they portray the real India or real Indian people and manage to do so while providing a bit of entertainment which is exactly what the best films in Hollywood strive to portray of America. I think that Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara’s cinematography could easily compare with that of Slumdog Millionaire and that Indian movies are beginning to be about more than the unfortunate love story.

      I look forward to the future of Bollywood, I think that many actors are paving the way for Bollywood to become more like Hollywood in it’s efforts to portray realistic stories in an interesting manner. Don’t get me wrong I still love the over the top love stories like KKHH and K3G, just like I still love the bullshit American action films like Transformers. And Hollywood also has its own set of crap films that no one should ever see (Tons of Adam Sandler films, the unnecessary sequels to movies). However I think the thing that makes Hollywood films so great is that people look at action films and love films as movies that there are a time and a place for, but not the movies that really move them. If Bollywood adopts the same attitude, I’m sure there are more than enough talented people in India who can bring out some amazing films that portray all perspectives of India.

      Overall, I think it’s great that Indian movies are beginning to be about more than just love. I think that even though to some extent Slumdog must have had a backlash and made some ignorant Americans believe that India is only slums, I think it has also given many culturally aware Americans a reason to travel to India and see for themselves. I do agree that yes Americans should not just walk into India and try and change everything, but at the same time, I think they should walk into India and see it for what it is, the magnificent, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yes a movie made by Danny Boyle is much more likely to be Oscar nominated, but I think he has also helped people to see that India has stories worth telling and if Bollywood begins to make films about these stories, then in the future Indian movies might be as likely to be nominated as American ones.

      And for that matter Danny Boyle is not from the U.S. either and yet he has been nominated many times for Oscars. He started small and got big and I think it’s the same for Bollywood in Hollywood. Indian movies are slowly starting to be given more recognition and maybe one day Indian films will be given as much value as American/British ones are given. I can see how opinions can offend both sides, but I think if you try to look at the film from a moderate perspective, you can see both the successes and the failures and for the most part I think that people will rule it a success. I certainly do. It’s a great movie even though it has some ridiculous stuff like that totally out of place dance at the end which probably did more to hurt the Bollywood industry than to help bring an interest.

      That’s just my two cents, hope I didn’t offend anyone. And sorry for the randomness of this response, I was just watching Slumdog today in India and talking to my family about India’s views of the film. Just reminded me of the controversy over the film, thought I’d add in my perspective.

  83. Dear Friends,
    I wonder how many people who are commenting have read the original book by Vikas Swarup.
    The film does not come up even to 10% of the originality and receptiveness of the book.
    I am not a hypocrite and I am indian. What Boyle has shown is true but the perspective is faulty.
    I am sure that if u read the book, you will agree with me.

  84. And one thing that really pisses me off is NRI’s like Ria who make comments in matters like these. Ria, as you say u r American born, so please stay with America. You are not competent to be a mediator in this topic…and the audacity is that you volunteer itself.
    At least, the original emigrants set up their country (making all the red indians live in plantations and they scream about the PLO. what a joke!). Anyway, your father or whoever went first got his subsidized education from India. Because of that subsidized education, your father became an US citizen and now you make comments about the poverty of India. We indians do not want help or good wishes from mongrels so just let us alone. Nothing is meant personally so please think carefully before replying.

  85. now this comes from an American guy….i’m currently in Mumbai after staying 25 days in India(tourism)…..i’v traveled through many parts of Mumbai…..that includes Dharavi too….i must say it is exactly like its depicted in the movie….BUT…the rest of Mumbai(for the most part)…and the rest of India too(leaving the Central – North states)…is way different from the image we have of India….South India especially is nowhere near the “India” the world thinks of……and secondly…not counting the areas in Utar Pradesh(and dharavi ofcourse)..i didnt see any people swimming in fecal matter….etc…..i agree they might have been poor…but India as a whole isnt “dirty”..nor is it “grimy”, etc….North India(Kashmir and Simla)..are beautiful….Sikkim,Megalaya and the surrounding areas(states)…are clean and one cannot make out if the people are poor…Mumbai is way more developed than i thought, etc….so what i finally want to say is that…i agree with the Indians’ fear that this movie might just make the “India= dirt, dung , poverty , grime (fecal matter)” idea that many people in the world have, stronger..although that isnt really the case….

  86. I agree that the movie brings to the forefront certain aspects of Indian reality but I do not agree with the depiction completely. I find the following things problematic:

    1. The so called “Real India” is pitted against the “Real America”: brutality of the former is balanced by the humanitarian principles of the latter. In the scene where the young Jamal (Tanmay Hemant Chheda) takes the two Americans to show the “biggest dhobi-ghaat” and is treated brutally by the police/guard, he tells the Americans: “You wanted to see a bit of Real India. Here it is.” In response to that the American lady tells him while saving him from the police, “Well, here is a bit of real America, son.” What does the scene depict? I don’t think words are needed to explain it.

    2. Apart from that, the way Indians are made to speak English seems alienating. Are we that slow-paced?

  87. I don’t understand the hate on this amazing movie. This movie doesn’t just single out poverty in just India alone. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, poverty is a global issue in all countries including USA, but of course some countries more than others. This movie (like I’m sure there are others) teaches powerful lessons through struggle and reminds us that we should be thankful for what we have, even if we have very little. If I were Indian, I personally would have been proud that my country was part of an amazing movie. The story of this movie, the scenes, the people, all could be cut and placed in a different country and it would still fit, because once again poverty is a global issue. I’m so busy with exams, raising my daughter, etc, that sometimes it’s great to be stopped and reminded that many people in different countries, or next door to my house, live a different life with their own problems, own happiness, and unique story. I hope more movies like this can come out in theaters and not just the action, sci- fi, etc ( which I also enjoy). Be happy people, and help those in need when you are able to.

  88. Well, anyone has read Vikas Swarup’s “next book” -I forget the name ans there is an American protagonist called Larry Page, not the google one, but his clumsy cousin

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  90. As a Movie this sucks.. as an actual representation of Poverty and India IT SUCKS !

    If anything all this movie does is show that all you need to succeed in life is money !! nothing else matters only money does !

    There is no Love story ! there is no chemistry between these two characters !

    WHAT THE HELL ! what message is this movie giving ?? Mumbai’s slums is a horrible hellhole and all you need to succeed in life is money ?? ? THAT IS SO DAMN SHALLOW ! and materialistic !


    It Glorifies superstitious feelings of coincidences and luck..

    THIS IS BAD Bollywood movie and a HORRIBLE movie by Hollywood standards.


  91. India and it’s men are disgusting. I met an Indian man who is a Hindu who already had a long time girlfriend in America who knew nothing until I told her. I am in Germany. His name is “Anmol Chandon” or “Nikka Anmol”. He cheats lies and is a lying piece of shite. He took photos of our visit to show his friends and used me. He uses online dating sites to find women all over the world and con them. He uses them to stay with or have sex usually until they see him in person……. He is disgusting with bad hygiene and clogged pores all over, very short, and dirty. He is doesn’t deserve any woman and all need to beware. He preys on innocent white women, filipinos, and anything with fair skin…. spreading herpes and worse. He is a coward and swine.

    • @sophie you are a racist&sexist b#tch! how dare you generalization all Indian men like that?

      India is the most culturally lingually,racially,ethnically diverse country in the entire sub-continent… lumping them all up in such a shallow generalization is nothing more than ignorance.

      South Indians are nothing like North Indians and the same goes for North-east Indians…

      How would you like if I say that all American women are shallow materialistic whores just because I met one shallow materialistic American whore?

      We Indians are the most conservative people on earth… thanks to the Victorian brainwashing… and the man you’re talking about sounds nothing like a typical indian would ever do..

      and don’t even get me started on hygiene! you people don’t even clean you bums with water after you poop… DISGUSTING.

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