Saturday, January 10, 2009

Not that I'm a thorough-bred critic of anything (don't get me wrong, I can get extremely critical when I have to), especially films, music, fiction or literature and theatre- I personally am all for them as means of entertainment/inspiration first and intellectuall stimulation later, hence criticising for being to normal, or too "popular" is in my eyes very unjust and something extremely specific and elitest... but, I have i question nonetheless:

Why is it that only movies made on the predicament of the so-called urban Indian society become famous and "represent" (note how I am not using the term loosely) the "flavour"of India in the western paradigm? Am I wrong in presuming that Slumdog Millionaire has gained popularity in the US only because a) the orient is exotic, and India is now at the centre of the orient, totally ignoring it's economical at-par-with-the-US, if you will, development. And b) because it represents the slum of Mumbai and the boy's success becomes a symbol of the success of the Indiam slum, which btw is also something "intriguing and exotic" for the westerners.

I could be wrong. I am myself an embodiment of the growing, urban, globalised youth, dependant on a lifestyle that is nothing close to an ideal Indian lifestyle. But I have been noticing that every movie that gains popularity with the west has something to do with the stereotypical image of India. I haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire, and let me clarify, I'm sure it is a decent movie, infact I am tempted to go watch it without a critical approach, but I can't help but bring forth this sudden realisation. If I'm not wrong, it deals with a boy from the slums, and has undertones of the BPO style of living- an image that slowly started to define Indian youth. I am yet to find one movie/book that gained popularity among the west because of it's plot, storyline in universality , and not something that is distinctively Indian: seen with Shantaram, Slumdog Millionaire and the lot.

I may be wrong, but this is just something I noticed. I need to go watch the movie before I can further comment. To clarify, I am sure the movie is brilliant, and I personally loved Shantaram, I just hate to see it getting popular only by virtue of it being innately "Indian" hence exotic.

P.s- Edward Said, you have screwed me up.

7 comments:

go-phish said...

actually, if the promos are on track...its about this kid from the slums who 'magically' knows the answers to all the questions in the game... and i think they show how he's actually learnt the answer to each through unique experiences and unusual opportunities that a poverty ridden life actually GAVE him.. maybe even about a young boys initiative under tryin circumstances...

i dont think its that kind of exoticisation... more plucky-underdog drama.

umm, i think.

S said...

Erm, yeah, the plot is fine.

I'm talking about how it is rendered abroad, and under what pretext it achieved success, and my problem with that :)

go-phish said...

don't know about the marketing (but its sure to be 'typical' to earn megabucks)...

but i hope its portrayal isn't the cow-snake routine..that would just be SUCH a let down!

Venting Macha said...

The answer is simple, we as a people, or atleast the ones who are in places that matter... people who call the shots in say media, culture, etc - are gluttons for 'acceptance'.

Any kind of acceptance! Colonial domination and some 50-odd years of isolation from the big guys makes us titter and nervously fumble like a geek who's suddenly become cool.

Stereotyping cultures is the mainstay of popular media, but the ease with which we lap it up says something about our insecurity as a people.

Personally that's more worrying, I wouldn't worry so much if firangs find us 'exotic'. I mean if they want to watch confused, materialistic youth ignorant of their own role and responsibilities... they just need to look in their backyard!

*phew* long reply :P

S said...

I'm so glad you aren't one of those who go, "but the movie was really good, what is your problem?"

*move over people, I was never criticising the movie*

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