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Posts Tagged ‘Slumdog’

For over a decade, I have maintained the irrelevance of the Oscars, shunning it as a fofoshishilala extravaganza with little or no consequence to the movie industry at large. The declining viewership of the Oscars was a comforting factor that I was not the only one thinking this way. The last time the Oscars had an overwhelming audience was the 1970 Oscars when Midnight Cowboys won the Oscar.  Tonight was different.  I watched my first Oscar in 10 years with the sole intention of wanting to know what happens to Slumdog?

What I think of the movie is irrelevant. I loved it. lets leave it at that. I am happy that ARR, a talented musician from my state won, though not at his peak, and certainly for work that is far from his best, and far from original. This discussion is not even about whether slumdog is poverty porn. This discussion is about the Oscars, and how the so called media and entertainment elite view the world.

My theory is simple :  The west is predominantly disposed to art, movie and literature that panders to the stereotypes that have been created in their mind. Quick, if you are from North American or Europe or Australia, What are the three things that come to your mind about India? I can almost guarantee that you will have one if not more from this list

  • Poverty
  • Weird religious festivals
  • Bollywood
  • Cricket
  • Heat
  • War with pakistan
  • and if you are higher in the education ladder : outsourcing

You can certainly guarantee that any piece of mass comm that does not follow the above stereotype is doomed to be an also-ran. Allow me to present further evidence

  • Crouching Tiger hidden Dragon : Sure China is all about mysterious Kung Fu fighters, no wonder this thing had so many Oscars. How come Beijing Bicycle had not takers?
  • La Dolce Vita: Eccentric loud Italians, sure won a bunch. How about Malena, my favourite movie of all times (Monica Belucci in the movie has nothing to do with it), the best it got was 2 nominees.
  • Gandhi: There is no way this could have missed the Oscar

This is predominantly in the category of the Best Motion picture. If you look at Best foreign motion picture, it is quiet disenchanting.  Almost 90% of the movies either pander to the stereotype or worse, peddle political violence, bloodshed or poverty.

Dont get me wrong.. most of the other Oscar winners deserve some type of an award, the movies, actors and actresses have done phenomenal work, but when it comes to judging a winner, just those ingredients don’t seem to be enough.

Another movie based in India won the Oscar tonight, this was for the best documentary – Smile Pinkie. Guess what the story was about : A real-life tale of a poor child with cleft lip in rural India, who gets a new lease of life when an India doc does plastic surgery. Touching story and a great documentary. But should this be the only recourse to win?

Anyway, I predict Bollywood making a few more of them India based movies, stories are plenty : Kashmir, Riots, Kargil War, the Partition, Poverty, child-workers, sex-workers, diseases, infant mortality, the rare practice of sati…….

A more home truth : this does not apply to foreign movies alone…anyone care to guess why Akheela and the Bee did not make it?

For the intellectuals, who wish to discuss this topic further, Orientalism by Edward Said, is a prerequisite.

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