Monday, February 9, 2009

Poverty for Sale - We are not Dogs!!!

Recently, protests erupted in India over the screenings of the hit movie “Slumdog Millionaire”. Slumdog is the Academy-Award Nominated film by Director Danny Boyle and showcases a cast of relative newcomers against the backdrop of modern-day India.

Gritty, realistic, and visceral, Slumdog traces the adventures of Jamal Malik as he attempts to find the love of his life and solve the final question to India’s version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’. A Dickensian tale, Slumdog is a rags-to-riches story that includes historical accounts and dramatized scenes of life in India’s slums.

I very much liked Slumdog Millionaire. I thought the Cinematography was excellent, along with the performances of the actors. Danny Boyle did an outstanding job of bringing to the screen the difficult life in India’s slums. Boyle is also well-known for other hits including Trainspotting and Millions.

With regard to the protests, I think we should be sensitive to other cultures, particularly the suffering of other individuals. However, I also think that art should be provocative. By definition, art should stir and motivate the soul. If a piece of art cannot elicit a response from a viewer, then it fails. The art is now nothing more than a convocation of materials.
I don’t think the Producers or the Director of Slumdog meant any harm to anyone by its depiction of life in India. I think the scenes help to establish the milieu and are device for the storyteller (the Director) to get the point across.

That being said, we acknowledge the protestors’ viewpoints, but we posit that Slumdog is not meant to disrespect India, but is a celebration of life and potentialities.

- Omar W. Rosales