Thursday, January 22, 2009

On why SLUMDAWG has made it and why TZP hasn’t…..

Now a huge hue and cry has been made about the issue that how unfortunate it was for a great and realistic movie like TZP to be turned down for nominations at the Oscars, and how an unrealistic movie like SDM, goes on to grab golden globes, and how the nomination for Oscars for SDM have followed.
Indians are unhappy because their ‘poverty, filth and wretchedness is hungrily gobbled up by the westerners’, while people in the west print media have called SDM a ‘poverty porn’.

There are many reasons to the SDM winning accolade everywhere.

A child’s inability to read and write properly might be a trouble of magnanimous proportion for an Indian middle class family, but not for people living in developed world, where education isn't the only passport to better off living standards. And hence TZP isn’t really that great, as we have made that out to be. On the other hand SDM has struck the right chord because that’s precisely what the western audience wants to watch.

First SDM is made by a Gorra man, who is competent as well, and it’s a common knowledge that rigging happens everywhere. And for Oscars too such allegations have been made it the past. So this deserves the benefit of doubt.

Second, people from the developed world love to see filth and poverty and people living in appalling conditions. This makes them feel better off. A very common psychological trait! The award winning novels (numerous), films/biographies (born into brothels), photographs (Pulitzer 1994-Kevin Carter; vulture waiting for the starving kid to die), have always been the ones that have brought out the shame of civilized society. And India is a fertile ground for all of these. Largest democracy population wise, top ranked in poverty, health hazards, corruption, malnutrition, crime, and yet with a strong economic growth – that is what we are about. It’s the same country where you can finds contradictions everywhere, from smooth highways of Punjab & Haryana, where female feticide is a flourishing practice, to crater holed roads of Bangalore, cause of the infamous word ‘Bangalored’ – (agony for hundreds of workers in first world countries who lost their jobs to English speaking Indian youth). The educated don’t vote, the uneducated vote anyone, depending on who provides them rice/money/alcohol. We have growing population of criminal politicians, politicians who can’t speak their own names properly (leave alone writing), amongst many other breeds. Where else can you find 70 year old people with both legs in grave, procreating? Where else can you see the glorified temples of khajuraho of erotic art, and the strange denial of existence of sexual needs in the same society? Where else can you see a space mission to moon and educated people getting married to trees/dogs/rock to avoid marital discord?

Third it portrays more reality than the fiction portrayed by TZP. No doubt TZP is great movie, and specially the screenplay, including the song “Ma..”, is rendered so beautifully that it greatly moves the audience.
This is a wrong concept of movie. A movie is not supposed to move you, it is supposed to entertain. TZP doesn’t entertain. It leaves the audience with a sense of guilt, a sense of shame, and a strong sense of nostalgia for most of us who have been directly or indirectly related with the concept of under-performance in school and the associated social humiliation by teachers, parents, family, friends, and so on and so forth. I have gone through this humiliation, and can recall vividly how one of my cousins was going through the same problem of dyslexia in his early school life, and no one in the family had any clue about it. He later quit studies to join his family business.
I can also recall many from my school, and childhood friends who had similar difficulties and who were branded as duffers by teachers, relatives and parents too. But all of these and I am sure many more children who suffered had no ‘Amir Khan’ to save their lives of shame, fear, and failure. They never had any hero, as they show in TZP. No doubt the movie did a great job in making people aware, and hopefully people would be now be more sympathetic with their under-performing kids; but the movie remains a great piece of fiction which doesn’t entertain. It strains.

On the contrary SDM (I haven’t seen the movie, so can’t really compare); supposedly shows a fictional story of a guy who lives in slums, who goes on to win millions on a game show. That is fiction of course, but what remains fact is the portrayal of the story in an entertaining manner, which pleases the audience, and not makes them feel guilty. That’s what Amir didn’t do. So, to make a good movie which is set in a not yet developed country, you ought to show the context vividly, however dirty, illogical, and unrelated that might be. That’s what Boyle did.


KP said...

I havent had chance to watch any of the movies mentioned here! I have heard lot about TZP. TZP is truly an eye opener for every Indian...ur child might have dyslexia...and treat him....dont outcast him from the society.
Slumdawg has protrayed india as third world poor county, I don’t blame them…I hope, it will be an eye-opener for corrupted politician in India. Lets hope they improve situation in slums of bombay!

Well written...u r very few boggers(have come across)..who has writing skills!

Sumeet said...

hi i happen to run into u r blog and interested me.. would u mind if i add ur blog to my fav read one...

A Girl from Timbuktu said...

@ KP: Thanks a lot KP for ur appreciation :)
if u havent seen TZP U MUST...strongly recommended...and I watched SDM finally...good entertainment...but not worthy of Oscar nomination tho...i am convinced that strong lobbying works there.

@ Sumeet: Please do :) I wouldn't mind at all :) :)

mohit said...

hmm.... well thought out... but u never mentioned the ray of hope that SDM portrays, showing the rags to riches journey.
Also, TZP isn't globally unique.. as in there are other films about dyslexia too...and as u said, ppl all over the world have loved seeing the "real" india, as opposed to the one which is an economic force to reckon with.... sadist expressions, maybe..

DAWG gone, i'd say.

A Girl from Timbuktu said...

@Mohit: there is a thing about rags to riches story..There's always an audience for that.
After having watched the movie twice, the only comments I have is that Boyle is good at networking.
good movie indeed, but not worthy of all the footage!

hary!! said...
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hary!! said...
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hary!! said...

helloos i just happened to come across yur blog,yes of all the facts that yu said i do agree , but i still think the only fact that SDM made it to the academy awards is that like yu said, " its made by GORRA" , no other reason according to me, but all other facts are valid as well.

There are real good movies made in India, with skillfull performance as TZP, Lagaan & Kamal Hassan's Nayagan( dunno how many have seen it, but its the best) & many more. But i think we ought to just add a fictional gorra" as the director maybe :)

Anyway nice blog !

mêlée said...

very well expressed!