The recent Oscar Nomination and subsequent debate for “ Slumdog Millionaire” is both astonishing and disturbing.
While it is astonishing
as the first major Oscar nominated English movie on India in thirty years since “Gandhi’ (made by another British director) ,
it is disturbing
as it reflects the inherent tensions in a nation of a 1.147 billion people racing to the moon in unmanned orbit(2008) ( and thus proud of its recent achievements including economic, sports, and political
while at the same time
a nation state struggling to provide basics of food, housing ,employment (conservatively 300 million people live on less than 1 dollar a day in India) and lack of state safety from terror attacks.
Most of the critics decrying the exhibitionism of “poverty porn” , a unique term, are themselves safely far removed from the slums themselves.
An average Indian Middle class family earns 1-2000 USD a month ( depending on how good the economy is),
I find the rows of people sleeping on pavements and defecating openly – both embarrassing and humbling.
There has to be some shame, some morality in an economic system where the urban middle class earns more than 60 times than the urban poor ( or 60 times 30 dollars a month) .
I find the lack of conscience ( we cant help them, so lets help ourselves)
in my peers ,
fellow middle class chaps and
especially the intellectual classes of academia and corporates
hubris and pride in the inevitable rise of power to a glorious Mother India ,
an amusing and sometimes puzzling drama which is as entertaining as any fictional movie created by a global Holly or a local Bolly – Wood