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India: Slumdog Millionaire Sweeps The Oscar Awards

Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, a British social film based on a novel set out in India made a clean sweep at the The 81st Academy Awards Ceremony. Its British and Indian crews bagged 8 awards including the best picture award. It was truly India's day as ‘Smile Pinky‘, another short documentary based in India also won an Oscar.


A section of the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ casts in Hollywood- photo by Flickr User KaushiK™, used under a creative commons license

People from all over the world watched the awards ceremony. Some were live blogging the event like Sepia Mutiny. There were hundred of Twitter messages appearing in a minute during the live transmission where voices like Raajesh said:

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Prerna at No Borders and Binaries said:

A horde of Indian invaders and their British allies on tourist visas took home the coveted and prized Oscars as the world watched. One in particular, A R Rahman, dazzled and charmed everyone with his musical genius while also speaking sentences in Tamil. This is America, English-only!!

And of course there were many who did not like Indians invading the Oscars:

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But many Indian bloggers were tepid in acknowledging the feat of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. We highlighted the mixed reactions of many Indians about this movie in an earlier post in Global Voices. Many slum-dwellers in Mumbai, where the movie was shot, have protested because they were called slumdog in that movie.

Meera Sinha writes:

Despite feeling that Slumdog Millionaire shouldn’t be viewed as a defining film about Indian poverty, it’s been exciting to see India in the limelight after the movie’s 8 Oscar wins.  I’m tempted to write more, but I’ll give into the celebratory moment and avoid going into any further detail about my issues with the film.

Great Bong at Random Thoughts Of A Demented Mind was not too impressed either:

For one, Slumdog Millionaire very deliberately and very effectively strikes many of the chords that Academy judges have been known to have a soft spot for. In order to ace an exam, you do not necessarily have to be the best —even an average person can excel if he/she can understand the “system” and do exactly what is expected. Slumdog Millionaire does that admirably.

Hitesh Bagai wonders in a twitter message:

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Lekhni at The imagined Universe tries to find “Why do Indians hate Slumdog Millionaire?

I wonder if our main objection to the movie is because it depicts a part of India we’d rather not focus on. We’d like to celebrate our economic growth and our resurgent middle class. We’d like to point to our new malls and glass-fronted buildings. The movie does not show much of the prosperity of middle class India. It shows the other India that not many of us know very well, or would like to think about – the poor India that has remained poor despite all the recent economic growth.

Shripriya Mahesh at Tatvam (Inner Truth) loved the movie and writes:

Why on earth should any filmmaker be burdened with representing a city or a country? He’s not making a documentary. There’s a story to be told. It involves a sliver of a view of a city. From the point of view of one fictitious life. The filmmaker’s job is to tell that story to the best of his/her ability. And that’s exactly what Danny Boyle did. And I for one, loved the result.

Prerna highlights India's capabilities and concluds with:

Sure, it took a British director to make a movie on an ‘Indian subject’ to get Oscars for Indian technicians who have been doing superior work for decades (i.e. Gulzar, A R Rahman, Pookutty). Slumdog Millionaire is nowhere near the A-list of Bollywood movies given it’s simple tried-and-tested theme of love over money. And this isn’t A R Rahman or Gulzaar’s best work. At the same time, it is heartening to see these musical greats finally getting international recognition for what is ultimately an Indian movie. However, THAT should not be a marker for success. AR Rahman doesn’t need Hollywood; Hollywood needs him.

Congratulations nonetheless, to Slumdog Millionaire and to every Indian that considers this their movie.

6 comments

  • Wella

    This is such a disgrace…
    An indian movie wins the Oscar in America???
    I have to mention that I am european, not even american…and this seems really weird…
    What about ALMODOVAR? Isn’t he worthy of an Oscar?
    There are so many talented regizors in East Europe that are never even considered in this competition.
    Do you know who Cristian Mungiu is?
    He is doing stunning movies with 1/16 from Danny Boyle’s budget.

  • To Wella – yes, a movie with an Indian story won the best film at the Oscars. And I’m sure there are great European filmmakers, but you know what? There are great filmmakers with 1/16 the budget EVERYWHERE in the world. So if anything, you should think of the story and realise that it is a benchmark that a film about slums in one of the poorest nations in the world has won an oscar this year and people globally are recognizing not just the film, but the issue, and India..and to be honest, its high time for this change.

  • I acknowledge the opinions mentioned here. But I must agree with Shripriya, it isn’t really the director/filmmaker’s job to represent all aspects of a country. And to do that to a country that is as incredibly diverse as India would be utterly unfair! I personally loved the film and all things about it! I felt Boyle has done an incredible job that is worth commending. Congratulations!

  • Julian

    Wella, what a racist you are. Sheesh.

    You may not care too hoots about anyone but your own uptight self, but if you can think beyond your priggish nose, do read this:

    http://www.indiasoulcurry.com/2009/02/slumdog-millionaire-indian-perspective.html

  • Rajan Jain

    “I just don’t understand one thing. Giving all due respect to all what has happened at the OSCARS…..why are we indians jumping so much, It was a movie made in india on the indian living (one side) but not an indian movie. It is a British movie. Recognition no doubt has been given to the roles delivered by the indians but how can we rejoice on that WE HAVE ACHIEVED IT. What have we achieved on the whole accept for that the Oscars should just be considered as incentive to learn from. We at bollywood have got much more to give than what hollywoods capabilities. The only thing tat matters at the Oscars is HOW WHEN AND WHERE and ofcourse LUCK also.”

  • Wella

    Wella

    You have to come out of your box and realize that there is a world outside of America and Europe and it is inhabited by people who are equally talented. For your information, India produces more movies per year than Hollywood and there are many many movies which do not get their due recognition, thanks to the narrow minded people like you.

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