A brief postcard to all those throwing stones outside Anil Kapoor’s house over Slumdog Millionaire and calling it the worst insult to India since the last worst insult to India: Stop whining. Get real.
Let me get this straight: We are not agitated because slumdwellers exist, living their crushingly poor lives. We are not agitated that an Indian man, a senior diplomat, wrote their well-told tale. We are agitated because a White man put them on screen.
We are such a thin-skinned nation.
“I don’t know what we’re coming to. A film is an interpretation by one person and he has a right to it. If we are going to oppose everyone who takes a critical look at us, then I do not know where we are headed,” said filmmaker Sudhir Mishra, director of the 1992 film Dharavi, set in Mumbai’s sprawling shantytown, one of the world’s largest slums.
On Friday, Mishra will interview Slumdog director Danny Boyle at a “masterclass” open to the public.
India and the West have a tricky relationship. We usually remains besotted with what the West thinks of us; we seek validation every now and then from Western opinion leaders on what we are doing.
India is so fascinated with calling Indians in the West its own that its media went to town celebrating the political success of Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana — a thoroughbred American who had systematically shed his “Indianness”.
But Indians have also soaked in a strange and twisted sense of national pride, which raises its head in times like these.
So we might be better off abusing the men who created the wide, far-apart world between the slumdog and the millionaire, rather than the man who created a movie on him.