How Indian is Indian?

I watched Slumdog Millionaire over the weekend. Brilliant!!! The only word that can perhaps describe the movie. I generally don’t go ga-ga over movies and their brilliance (that I have been drooling over Farhan Akhtar ever since “Rock On” happened to my life is a different matter). No, seriously, Slumdog is another genre completely. It is just right…in music, in style, in its length and in its depiction of Mumbai. Nothing that will make you go….”okay…now they are stretching it.” It’s almost like they finish every sequence when they know the audience has understood the message without harping on it endlessly…and that I guess is what is so refreshing about the movie.


And the cast was awesome. While Dev Patel was quite good in his depiction as Jamal, I thought Ayush, the youngest Jamal was a treat to watch. Basing an entire movie on a single contest and yet making it so touching in every scene. While one can call the depiction of poverty-stricken India clichéd and stereo-typical, I think it takes a lot for a foreigner to really touch the pulse of India in a way that no Indian director has ever been able to do.


Why I really write this post is not because I wanted to do a review of the film but because what I saw on television last night irked me to no end. While the entire country was rejoicing the movie’s terrific win at the Golden Globes, one particular news channel kept harping on the fact whether we should be so ecstatic considering the movie was not made by an Indian director. “How Indian is Slumdog Millionaire” was the question they kept asking for viewers to respond. While I am very proud of the fact that A.R. Rahman has won a Golden Globe for the movie, it really doesn’t take a Golden Globe to know that this guy is amazing. A.R. Rahman has sold more albums than Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. I am happy he’s done it and put us on the global scenario but that doesn’t mean one should doubt whether the movie can be called Indian or not. It is about India but it is not made by an Indian. Does this mean that we can’t appreciate it? Just by having Indian actors and an Indian Co-Director doesn’t make the film Indian. And just by being Non- Indian doesn’t take away from the brilliance of the film or make us less proud of it. For once, lets be proud of something that is brilliant and well made without debating whether it is Indian, foreign, Islamic. For once, lets just cut out the jingoism and appreciate something that is so worth appreciation.

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