Hollywood can’t seem to have enough of the squalor filled slums of India. After Slumdog Millionaire showed Mumbai slums way back in 2008, now it’s The Avengers’ turn. The opening scene of the film shows Hulk’s alter ego, Dr Bruce Banner, hiding in Kolkata slums and helping cure lepers.
The portrayal of the filthy, overcrowded Kolkata slum hasn’t gone down well with the audience here. Bengali actor, Rituparna Sengupta, says, “Kolkata has a rich culture and heritage, and a filmmaker should respect that. There are two scenes about India and they only show slums. It could have been done in better taste.”
Bollywood actor Neha Dhupia too feels it’s disappointing. “It is disturbing to see the murky underbelly of India in Hollywood films. But before pointing it out to the west, we need to make efforts to change their perception about us.” Delhiites too have reacted to the poor projection of India on screen. “It’s as if any scene requiring a slum has to be set in India. Why do they have to project India in such a poor light to the international audience,” says Somali Pal, a student.
“When will Hollywood stop cashing in on the poverty here?” says Rishabh Bal, a bank employee. “There is no reason to be happy about the Indian connection. It has become a trend in the west to show Indian slums and a Westerner trying to help the poor here,” says Nitin Bhatia, a software professional.
The Avengers’ Lucknow connect
The Indian woman afflicted with leprosy, whose family Dr Banner saves, is played in the film by Hollywood actor Rashmi Rustagi, who is originally from Lucknow. Rustagi is well known in Los Angeles’ theatre circuit, TV commercials and the entertainment world. Though settled in the US since the last 30 years, she visits Lucknow often to meet her relatives. She went to Christ Church College and Avadh Girls’ Degree College there.