Sunday, January 25, 2009

The SLUMDOG balance sheet : Some Calculations...


This is not a review of Slumdog...

Though I write this having seen the first show last Friday, along with my friend Rashmi (who is sure to have a worth-every-word-she-writes review, as and when she gets around to it !!)...

Hollywood made Bollywood style is a moment to pause for sure...
A moment to celebrate. A moment to bask in the sun of reverse snobbery...
The young boy rolls down the slope as he falls off the speeding train, and what do you know ! He has grown up, by the time he gets up brushing his back.
End of the movie, title sequence has 'hero' and 'heroine' doing a Hindi movie ishtyle dance, between the local trains.
The 'hero' and 'heroine' with their spotless unsullied reputations all through, as they lead the life of the underdogs, when all else around them have shades of grey.

WOW !
I loved every moment of the nonsense..

And I have no issues about the depiction or stereotyping of 'slums'.. we Indians need to wake up, and step outside our Gated Communities.
Slums exist. With all its unspoken and swept under the never-washed carpet grittiness.

I also loved the depiction of firangis, the white skinned foreigners. If they are there at all on screen, they are present as blink and you-shall-miss-them stereotypical tourists...

So how can one complain of one stereotype when everything is a stereotype.

OK, what I am zapped with is this : We have seen all the actors, major and minor, dressed in their best at every award function - also major and minor... Irrrfffan Khan (sorry, can never get his spelling right); Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, along with the Director Danny Boyle, Co-Director Loveleen Tandon, the producers - flying around to every city around the world for the grand openings. Collecting and sweeping in the trophies. (By the way, how much does a first class air ticket cost nowadays?? Three or four thousand dollars perhaps?)
A movie made with a 'shoestring' budget of USD 14 million has grossed four times that amount even before being launched worldwide, sez the movie website.. And continues to make money as all good movies ought to.

And yet, what I see is this: today's Indian Express has an endearing photo of one of the two main kids, the one who played the role of Salim (and was on screen almost as long if not longer than the teenagers playing the roles of the two older protagonists). He is flipping through an album of photos of the movie - inside his makeshift tenement in some park near Bandra station. With his dazed, emaciated parents visible in the shadows.

A 'proper' studio one room apartment in Mahim (close to Bandra) will not cost more than rupees twenty lakhs, even by inflated by Indian real estate standards.
That is like USD 40,000/- or less ...

Obviously, too high by slumdog calculations, no? Even if it is less than 0.25 % of profits generated to date.

Kind of reminds me of the financial calculations going around recently on Wall Street...

The kids who breathed life into the movie.. are discarded like dregs of fragrant coffee - after the brew is made. No one is saying we need a socialist model or something... And for sure, India and we Indians need to learn how not to turn a blind eye to the have-nots...

But doesn't it feel a tad odd that while other co-actors tuxedo it to the Oscars/ Golden Globes, even get Hollywood agents for future work, another is still resident in a hut here this way?

This is not about the dripped in potty shot in the beginning of the movie that has everyone disturbed and upset and reviewing about..

It is our planet's accepting attitude that, well, stinks....

1 comment:

Jade Graham said...

With all its unspoken and swept under the never-washed carpet grittiness. http://proactfinancial.co.uk