I’ve seen ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and nowhere found it offensive to India. Nor does it talk about life in Dharavi. It is the story of a street kid, Jamal, who gets orphaned in communal riots and comes up in life the hard way. It is about how Jamal, with his personal experiences in life, is able to win the Millionaire contest and becomes rich overnight. We all have our own stories and no two people’s stories are the same. The same applies for people living in Dharavi or any locality, for that matter. Jamal and his brother move from Mumbai as kids and spend their kid-till-teenage years selling stuff in trains. Then Jamal even spends a few years in Agra as a tourist guide, before coming back to Mumbai to search for his childhood sweetheart, Latika. So its not even totally about Mumbai or Dharavi all the time. They had to show slums, they chose Dharavi. Its symbolic. They could’ve shot in some other slum area too. There are plenty of them. Some line the railway tracks too. If the communal riots shown in the movie as well as the ‘begging racket’ hurts us so much and worries us about our image on the globe, we should work towards making India better. Why project our hurt through criticism? We shit alongside railway tracks ‘coz there aren’t enough ‘Public Loos’. And most poor people cannot afford the few Rupees that these loos charge. We fight over trains at rush hours and do not show humanity in our anger. These are hard facts we face daily yet act as if they do not exist. This is the real face of Mumbai life.
If the Oscars’ nomination for Slumdog Millionaire didn’t appeal to some Indians, why don’t we work at making our own film awards better? In recent times, our Awards are mostly directed at appeasing the ‘film industry’. We try to make everyone happy by giving everyone some award in the name of popularity, sidelining the Real Awards to ‘Critic’s Section’. Categories have been added so that more people are accommodated/ made happy. Even some so called ‘popular’ awards nominations are shockers. No wonder then that Amir Khan keeps himself away from such functions. ‘Ghajini’ (an excellent movie) didn’t bag much awards apart from getting it’s actress the ‘Best Debutante’ award. Our Awards are mostly run by Film Magazines and who would want the Best Actor missing from the front page !?