Slumdog Millionaire and Indian Cinema

I was struck by Chris Morris’ piece last Saturday on the Today news programme, discussing its international background. In the piece, Morris asks why could this not be made by an Indian team: namely the directory, screen writer nor the financing were from India.

And therein lies the real question. The Hindi industry used to make similar types of movies, dealing with people’s lives, or straight films as Danny Boyle calls it. But since the morphing into Bollywood it has become the host of pure escapism. The modern movies are more Manmohan Desai and less Bimal Roy.

Anurag Kashyup mentions that there is a

strange aversion to realism

Basically, the audience does not want to see that part of India. In a away, keep it hidden. People have complained that focusing on the poor in India re-enforces a stereotype, or the way the west sees the country. Amitabh Bachchan claims that if this was a movie of the well off it would not have received as much a claim. That’s hard to judge, but a well made movie is always appreciated. The escapism and derivative nature of the Mumbai industry speak more of the weakness of the mainstream, and the audience, rather than to the strength and innovativeness of the cinema.

Anil Kapoor defends the movie:

Let’s stop being defensive about the reality

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