Slumdog Millionaire: What are we cheering for?

As news started trickling in that the music of Slumdog Millionaire is great, I downloaded the music from the internet and tried to get a feel of it. It did not really get through. When the movie won four Golden Globe Awards including the best background score, Sydney including me woke up from its slumber and took notice. It released in couple of more theatres. I got a chance to catch the movie at Hoyts after work on Tuesday. (Why Tuesday? The ticket price costs fifty percent less and what better way to make the week interesting). The theatre which is twice the size of the hall in my apartment is packed. My Colleagues and I after ransacking the Indian restaurant nearby (food is as bad as it can be) finally settled in our seats.

The movie based on the novel Q and A by Vikas Swarup and directed by Danny Boyle has a Dickenson touch in its taking say the western media. Seeing Mumbai in his yucky avatar might have remembered them the London they have read in the Dickens’s novels. A Call Center assistant from the slums of Mumbai answers all the questions in “Kaun Banega Crorepati” correctly and wins twenty million rupees. How an illiterate from the slums of Mumbai found answers to the questions asked in the program right in his grueling painful life? What is the real reason behind his appearance on the program? You will come out with a lump in your throat, the movie depicting India beyond the stories of growing super power, its street smart orphans, and mafia living on the children, gun culture, red light areas, the marginalized poor, communal and religious divide.

There are few scenes which show what a mess the country can be, children playing street cricket right on the tracks of the santacruz airport, in the excitement of seeing Amitabh Bachan the kid does not mind jumping into a pit of shit (no joke). Many of us might not have encountered the other India shown in the movie and it would be a shock to us as it is to the outside world.

And when you are clapping and cheering when the movie wins yet another international award, are you cheering for the India shown in the movie or are you just happy that a movie based on India won an award?

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