Is India still the ‘slumdog’ for Western audiences?

New Delhi, Jan 18 (PTI) “SlumDog Millionaire” has won over the Western audiences with its ‘fairy tale in a Mumbai slum’ storyline but back home the film has opened up a heated debate about the stereotyped representation of India and Mumbai in the Western films.
None other than Bollywood’s Big B, Amitabh Bachchan joined forces with the critics of Slumdog in his blog.

“If “Slumdog Millionaire” projects India as Third World dirty under belly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations,” Bachchan wrote.

“Its just that the SM idea authored by an Indian and conceived and cinematically put together by a Westerner, gets creative Globe recognition. The other would perhaps not,” he said.

But despite the astounding success achieved by the film, which is being touted as the next big winner at the Oscars, Bishakha Dutta, a documentary filmmaker based in Mumbai, is articulate about her disappointment with the much hyped film.

She says, “The film takes each and every cliche there is about India and Mumbai and puts it in its plot. The result is a film that takes you from one horror of Mumbai to another, in a plot that is incredulously unbelievable.”

Shyam Benegal, veteran film maker who is credited as the pioneer of art house cinema in India refuses to take sides and says “I have not seen the film but answering the question from a theoretical point of view, as a foreign director filming in India, Danny would view his surroundings as a foreigner would and that is natural.” PTI

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