Slumdog Millionaire – Epilog

Finally got to watch the movie –  This is by no means a film critique. Nor I am writing for/against the merit of the movie or whether it is award worthy.

While I am not surprised at the reaction from some Indian filmmakers, couldnt let it go that easily.  Again, this is not about the comments on the quality of the movie in a literary sense. But my reaction to the comments like ‘intentional exploitation of India’ by Priyadarshan.

Fact is Danny Boyle has shown the murky underbelly quite visibly. But then, we should be appreciating the fact that someone did it. Yes, the story itself may not be great; it feels like an old Hindi movie at times; but somewhere there is an element of reality which we’ve rarely seen in any Hindi movies.

Back to Priyan’s comment, he is equally free to make a movie that shows UK/US and its underbelly.  No, Priyan is comfortable sitting back and remaking malayalam movies into Hindi with very minimal changes. Arent you exploiting the talented Mally writers & directors? So, I just dont think the comment about exploitation of India is appropriate.

(BTW, I do thoroughly enjoy & appreciate Priyan’s own original mallu movies..)

For once, cant we just appreciate something? Let us welcome the focus on India. Yes, I very much want it to be good PR and about the bright side, but then there is always two sides to the coin and lets not fool ourselves by covering it up or acting to be ignorant.

Secondly & More importantly, the slum scenes in the movie reminded me of my own experience when I had the chance to see dharavi closely. If the situation is the same today, whatever portrayed in the movie is very true. (Ever since those days, every time I land at the mumbai airport, my heart sinks for a moment. But it is quickly morphed into anger/hatred at the very sight of greedy police & security folks at the gates. )

Made me wonder about the level of charity in our country. In general, there seems to be very little Charity activity in India especially compared to US. And I am talking about relative comparison, not absolute comparison. The perception one builds if you’ve lived in both places is that there is a focused effort and recognition for Charitable causes and spending in US. Here is the list of most charitable countries as a % of GDP, India is no where in the list where as even South Africa has found a spot.

Why is there such low level of Charity activity in India? Of course, it can be just perception and a lot is ‘undocumented’ in India where as it is probably deliberately advertised in US. There was even a comparison somewhere on the charitable cotributions b/w the presidential candidates based on their public tax returns. I can only dream of a day when I can see this in India (both the transparency and the charity)

BigB, even you wrote about the murky underbelly. What have you/the bollywood industry done in all these years for the slum dwellers? Why isnt there a focused activity or campaign or organization after all these years to do something so that the infamous slum in mumbai is done with? Take US and even for the slightest cause, there seems to be a non-profit organization with necessary campaigns, events, activities and a celebrity to support the same.

Maybe I am wrong and there is a very healthy charitable contribution made by India’s rich.If anything, SD movie should make us think & act on these lines. Let us appreciate Danny Boyle & crew atleast for that.

Jai Ho!


  1. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 18, 2009, 9:26 pm:

    Thanks for explaining. I see your point now. I think USA has a lot of concerned citizens who donate money/time to solve problems that matter to their society. I think that is a powerful thing. Yes, they may need to do more for world poverty/hunger.

    Before we point fingers, let us look at India. India has at least 200million people who are well off. What would the percentage out of that 200 million contributing to charity? Indians have the additional benefit, if i can call it that, of seeing abject poverty/hunger everywhere they go.

    Which is better? you make the call.

  2. Quote


    Thanks for the kind words.

    I am not pointing fingers at anyone, at least not yet ….. But if I have to, I will point it at Indians (self included) ….. As you rightly pointed out, we have the added advantage of seeing abject poverty/hunger at close quarters ….. You would think a nation of 200M upwardly-mobile middle-class households can demonstrate their charitable instincts as well as they have come to flex their buying power ….. Regrettably that hasn’t happened yet.

    I don’t have any illusions where we as Indians stand ….. But if we are going to change ourselves, I’d rather we not try to emulate any particular nation …. We can become trendsetters in our own right if only we can be more empathetic towards global causes.

    If the recent global economic events have strengthened one particular conviction, it is that incidents (good or bad) happening in one part of the world have a way of manifesting themselves, sooner or later, on the rest of the world ….. How long do you think it will be before the situations in the third world countries leave their lingering mark on the rest of the world?

    If my incoherent ramblings (???) have resulted in at least one convert to my cause, maybe there is hope yet for us to leave a better legacy for the generations to come 🙂

  3. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 21, 2009, 8:31 pm:

    Sure. You are right, the extreme poverty in the third world will absolutely affect the rest of the world. How it will impact is not clear to me. But i am sure it will.

  4. Quote

    Today i happened to read the below news..

    I already commented that the charity of the west is driven by their zeal to convert.. the above link is a best latest example to prove my point..

    We cannot compare such charity with our indian way of charity.. both are poles apart..

  5. Quote

    Thanks for all the comments. Senthil, As Sukumar stated before – think US has more concerned citizens (relatively) compared to India. Not to say it doesnt exist there…

    Anyways, on a side note on SDM -> Happened to catch few minutes of an interview with Rasool Pookutty. Was amazed by this guy, maybe because I was totally ignorant about him pre the Oscars. Can see that the guys is an encyclopedia on movies and much more. As mentioned in an earlier post by Sukumar about ‘Expert’, Rasool’s advice to some yougsters was ‘concentrate and work hard on the subject for at least 10 years and only then you’ll gain expertise’. Very humble guy too — Got a feeling he truly deserved the award!

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