Monday, January 19, 2009

What does YOUR India look like?

I am reading all these articles where people are protesting against movies like "Slumdog Millionaire" because it projects India as a poor, not very nice country.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but have heard and read a lot about it. Of course :)

I wonder why all the uproar? Because the movie won awards, and we are jealous? Because what it says is true and are ashamed that the truth is out there for everyone to see?

There are other movies made about issues in India (Firaaq for instance). But they have not become so popular, and hence no protests?

Look at the other movies that are made in Bollywood. Where the lead couple sings and dances in Switzerland and almost everyone lives in mansions. That is also not the true face of India, then why no protests against that?

What is the true face of India that we want the world to see then? I think about the day to day life of an average Indian, and what story can we make out of it? I don't know :(

I loved Swades, but wasn't that also projecting how bad the Indian villages have it?

What story would YOU like to show? Which reality in India would you want non-Indians to know about? Can you recommend any recent movies that make you proud of India? That you would love to see winning top awards? Taare Zameen Pe maybe?

I am not saying that poverty and struggle is all there is in India. But I would like to know HOW we can separate ourselves from the poverty that is there on each and every traffic signal, on all footpaths, just about everywhere? Please do read this post by someone who works with slum dwellers everyday. See what she has to say about portraying this side of our country.

Slumdog Musings by Anouradha Baskhi of Project WHY.

Would really love to see comments on this one!

I can start off and say I would love to see a movie about the Chandrayaan...and without the song and dance trappings!

Edited to add:
And about how the role of the Indian woman has changed over the decades! Maybe something with three generations of Indian women in it! I can see a huge huge huge difference between the life, way of thinking, everything about my nani's life and my sister's daughter's life. They both live in modern day India!

Edited again (1/20) to add:
Just wanted to say that this post is not about dissing India, or supporting Slumdog.
I just want people to think about good things that they would like the rest of the world to know. Good things, like the ones I have listed above (at least I like them!)

35 comments:

Renu said...

First i dont know what is chandrayan? I never wanted the world to see the movies of Satyajiot Ray type...they present a very bad picture of our country...see we may be poor, we may have many problem, but they are for us to see...face and solve.
The first thing is that many people outside India do not know much about us, and they form a image accordingly, first let them know a little about our culture, our beliefs and some good things. You know outside still many people believe that in outr country snakes are there on the roads, we have sadhus everywhere and elephants also...and this is not hearsay..my people asked me weird questions about india and its people.
We should not aspire for awards at the cost of our dignity, I know that now everything is commercialised and people woll sell anything to get money. but thats not right for me.

Preeti said...

I AGREE! I so totally agree...i was thinkin the SAME thing when i read all the uproar in the papers...i mean for heavens sake, this IS india...yes, there maybe tall, glassy buildings and malls, but amidst all that - even more overpowering - is the existence of slums and the people in them...i dont see anythin wrong in depictin it...we dont even need to be ashamed...n if we r, then high time ppl sit down n do somethin abt it...

The ones who talk abt it - like amitabh for instance, may have hard a meagre beginnin but he has enough money to revamp half of mumbai for godsake! The india he knows has ppl with louis vuitton bags and jimmy choo pumps...!

τ ħ€ ĐάЎđяёάmёя said...

ohhhh god..one more Slumdog fan :P

pehle aap movie dekho then you will understand why people are protesting...

and I m not jealous of the award..we are so proud of it...that a A R Rehman got an award for it...and even director..i agree.....but the script...gosh...I just hate people saying it a good script...it was a formula script only to win award...talk abt poor things of society and misery and u get an award.. in any film festival...this is formula and it is similar to switzerland dance and mansion thingy in karan johar movies to smash box office records...

and one point I wud like to add...
if the director really wanted to show us the poor side....then he shud had released the movie much before in India...and he cud had used hindi as the main langage with english subtitles for the foreigners....how cud one thing the guys are poor and iilliterate if they speak so good brit english :O

it was a formula movie for award that's why i said...it is good movie but script award wen the dark knight was in competion was utterly disgusting...even a novice cud understand that the movie was a fairy tale with R rating...

aneri_masi said...

@RenuDi, Chandrayaan is India's first mission to the moon :) You HAVE to look it up!

Well Di, the sadhus and elephants are not everywhere, but the slums are! They are real, and we cannot hide from them.


But the question I had was if not the slums, then what would you like the world to see? Which facet of India? What makes you proud?

Indian Home Maker said...

1. What I feel the most is here is someone living a life that feels like hell, suffering hunger, exploitation, abuse .... and worse and here we REFUSE TO EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR PROBLEMS EXIST?!!!

2. How would we like if we were being cheated/burning/looted /whatever misery and the world denied even the existence of that misery cheating/burning/looting/ whatever?

3. In these times of WWW everybody knows everything, at least all those who have access to the internet, do talk - so those who are uneducated are left without a voice -I think they should be talked about and heard too.

4.Without awareness and without acknowledging that the problem even exists we can't start looking for solutions. I don't believe in the sham of trying to impress the West with lies (even indirect) of how good we are, I think it's good to be honest, and we should have the courage to accept that we do have some terrible problems and we must face them.
All this does not make us bad. We should be proud of the right things, we do have a lot to be proud of ... we are a great Democracy, we have free press - we have a great constitution and we do have problems that can all be solved if we face them head on together. Hiding them is not Patriotism ...

beena said...

well.. nicely written!!
:)

aneri_masi said...

@Preeti, don't just agree with me, answer the question too! What would you like portray that makes you proud?

aneri_masi said...

@sourish, I am not a fan of the movie, since I have not seen it yet. You didn't answer my question. What do you want to showcase about India?

Now on to addressing your points...
The movie was made by Brit, so he will put it the way he sees it. I was born in India, and lived there for 22 years, but now, when I step out of the plane (just the plane not even the gate!) the stench of Mumbai hits me hard. If that is what an Indian notices, think about what a brit will notice?

Why it was not made in Hindi? It was made by a Brit! Why it was not released in India first? It was made by a Brit!

So this was presented from the point of a Brit view. What would the Indian show? Is baat ka jawaab maangta hai :) Not just things like "Dil Hai Hindustani". Dil hota to so many millions would not be living in such conditions! Right?

aneri_masi said...

@IHM, agree with all the points you make. So what would your movie on India show? I liked the bit about free press :) Maybe that could be a theme!

@Beena, but you gotta tell me what YOUR India looks like :)

Indian Home Maker said...

It will not be Rang De Basanti - it teaches violence as a solution (I loved everything else in this movie)....maybe Shah Rukh Khan's Swadesh?

There are so many Indias!! One movie can not cover all our diversity!!
'Chak De'? Yes 'Chak De' shows another aspect of us .... tare Zameen par also shows a small facet of us .. nice post Aneri_Masi you are making me think!
Basically any movie that shows how we are a free, brave, not rich but an upcoming nation, some Air tel and Idea ads are a great portrayal of India... Abhishek Bacchan's ideas - for education, and against any caste based surnames ... oh I love those ads :)) more than any movies!!
Franfinn ad (I bloggged about this one) .. but you are asking movies!!! Let me think some more :)

I am said...

Loved this POST
BANG on the nail..

1. I totally agree that BIG B and many others just responded to the movie out of jealousy and to some extent ashamed of accepting the truth!!

2. Swadesh was a great movie. I LOVED IT. And I do believe and have come across such small changes/people. But that represents only 1% of the truth!!!

3. Proud of - right NOW am proud of nothing as an Indian !! There is nothing I feel I can brag about !!

4. The hollow trumpet of values, culture, and tradition that we have been blowing all these years unfortunately has not improved the global, financial or economic situation of the majority of Indians or the nation!!

And the movie/book just shows the PRESENT as perfectly as it could :)

5. The Face I would like to show in 10 years definitely will be
a) Women of Modern India :)
b) Youth of India Post 26/11

At present if there is anything that I have some pride for is -
1. Indian Railways and Lalu :)

(THANKS TO THE BRITS again for getting the tracks done for us!!)

I am said...

YAH I said LALU :)
for the managing the Indian Railways :) I think I should have mentioned that and I think he is the only political leader who eats BUT does some work also, unlike others :)

so clearing it here :)

Renu said...

Thanks for telling me:)
I am proud of our families,
democracy
freedom of speech
secularism(yes despite riots we still secular)
at the time of crisis we unite amazingly
our values
even medical system and facilities..may they are not everywhere..but then we are a developing country, still i feel more comfortable here than in US.
we have some of the best minds here.
our resilience
For mne any normal movie can be the showcase..TZP,swades,even chitchor, rajnigandha, bahuraani,kisi se na kehna, anone showing real life here.

D said...

It isn't easy to put India in a bracket - it's made up of stuff that sells Slumdog Millionaire just as much as it is made up of stuff that sells a typical K.Jo film (no, I don't agree people in India don't live in mansions. Some do). We, as Indians, straddle both the worlds in our everyday life. And when a film shows only one aspect it bothers us.

Sourish said...

that was my point...the guy was brit and he didn't researched enuff..aur rahi bat showcase ki toh I think u can showcase anything....abt it ...but if ur actually working for profit and saying m doing charity..u r bound raise uproar..

aur rahi baat stench ki..toh i do feel it...and i m not denying it...but india is not all abt call centre wen it comes to development...half of the american working minds in research are indians...so why don't brits showcase that....anyways..as I said it was a good entertainer..but eiiiiwwwwwwww if ur talking it made for social cause..i disagree..yeh toh wohi baat hai maine bacha khane kutte ko dee diya aur kaha..main toh apna khana janwaro k sath share karta hoon....

I hope u r getting my point...

Sourish said...

aur rahi baat brit ka english mein movie banana...arre agar usse awareness lana hi hota toh hindi mein banata..
english mein banaya coz usse bechna toh tha hi

and don't mind didi..not targetting u..but in general NRIs has this tendency to pity India...and they do love sumthing which shows them the reality ..be it watever in form..they just tust it and it was made for those people only....

Ria said...

well written and i m all for it!i dunno whts the big deal abt showing reality.i think it all stems from the double standards tht Indians have.no matter how hard v try, one cannot run away from reality.

aneri_masi said...

@IHM, please do come up with more movies! And also other ideas for new movies. What would you like to see?

@tanu, lalu bhaiya to khus ho gaye honge ;)

And come on, there has to be SOMETHING that you can think about that's good. Aise kaise ki there is nothing. Not an acceptable answer!

aneri_masi said...

@RenuDi, except for Swades and TZP, the others you mention do not reflect current India, they are true to the times they were made in, but not now. Resilience...I don't know, its turning out to be more of cowardice given the fact that NO action has been taken about all the terror attacks on us. Yes, we do go on, but we do nothing to prevent the same happening again :(
Democracy and secularism, I agree whole heartedly :)

aneri_masi said...

@D, i agree, that India (or any other country) cannot be bracketed into any one thing. I just wanted to know what you would like the rest of the world to see about India.
Some people do live in mansions, and 90% of our movies show them. A lot more people live in the slums, and maybe 1 to 2% of our movies show them.

In any case, my question was, if not this, then what? I agree this is not the ONLY thing, so what would you like instead.

aneri_masi said...

@sourish, you completely missed my question. The Brit made it from his point of view. He showed what he saw! What does the Indian want to show, that is my question. I am not dissing our country saying that there is nothing good there. I want thinking minds to point those good things out. I am not for or against SM. I just want to know WHAT a proud Indian would want the rest of the world to know about her/his country. Do you get it now? Or not yet?

And just because you say don't mind, does not mean I will not take it to heart. You cannot generalize a community and pass judgment about them. Who says we "pity" India? Just because we are in a position to compare what we see here and what we see there does not mean we are pitying, or looking down upon India. And agar pity karte hain to achha hi hai, at least we try to do something in our own way! Who said we like only movies that show India as poor? I mean, what the heck do you know? Hmm? Anyway, I am not going to spend more time trying to explain this.


And by the way, you still have not answered my original question.
What would you like to showcase? "Anything" is not an answer!

aneri_masi said...

@Ria, you got to put up some good points too. Only agreeing not allowed :)

I am said...

I am a comedy person so I guess I will end up making a satire on the things I like about India and the one's I Don't

for e.g.

Uma Bharti and Mamata Banerjee as female villains trying to smoother or lure Tata to give a share in the TATA MOTORS, Lalu my hero coming in between and saying 'nahiiiiiiiiiiii' hummar railway ko loss ho jayega..
backed by Buddha Deb in red shirt and pants :) 'Cholbe Na Cholbe Na' humko share magta :) pehle.. MEN first right then APJ comes into picture and says SILENCE BOYS and GIRLS we are on the mission to Moon, to make NEW INDIA :)

this is the summary now to show the full script and story I need money :) , producer banegi to agee ka sunaungi :)

But on a non-serious note - If I get a chance THAT's what I will showcase :) for sure

τ ħ€ ĐάЎđяёάmёя said...

Dil se lene ka ismein kuch hai nhi..it is kinnda reality..

rahi bat generalizing community ki toh it depends on the perception...and exception lies everywhere..if u r an exception that doesn't mean that u clear out the community which u call urs...

I regard them a section of India...who want desperately to show their gratitude towards their nation and they find pity to be of good use...

ok better we stop it....coz since u had taken it personally..u will see every point as an attack on urself...so no need discussing more to increase bitterness...

Anything I meant anything..India is place of unity in diversity..... watch discovery showcase on India...I never raised a single finger on them...even they show the miseries here..they show it with passion and they live with it when they shoot the film

u can show the unity, u can show the culture, the festival, the patriotism of soldiers, the monuments, the rich literature...name it and u will find it to be beautiful and worth dying for...that's wat India in in my eye that i want to show to the world....

Rakesh said...

Sadly, even I haven't seen the movie but I too think the controversy is stupid. India is poor plus a lot of beautiful things. Just coz. one movie focused on the slums, doesn't make it a complete portrayl of India and audiences understand that. This was just one aspect of India and from what i hear, it has been amazingly brought to life.

Regarding Firaaq, well the less said the better - It is one more in the typical pseudo-secular viewpoints which I think we've had enough of. I mean, I was at the special screening of the movie at the DIFF and I couldn't stop myself from asking Nandita Das - Why this? And she responds with - Why Not this? and the audience claps... I mean, what I actually wanted to ask her was - When you'd got 5 protagonists in the movie to work on, why didn't you try and bring some balance??? All the oppressed in the movie were muslims while all villains were Hindus. That's what you call pseudo secular.

aneri_masi said...

@sourish, hmmm...wanting to show gratitude and wanting to help make our country better translates into pity. I didn't know about this logic!
Questioning and judging why someone is helping is something I would not want to do anyway.

Thanks for finally answering my question. That is a very nice list of things :)

aneri_masi said...

@Tanu, I will fund your movie if you can rope in Govinda to play Laalu :) On a serious note, tu politicians ko chhod and look at the people and see what you like. There is LOTS!

aneri_masi said...

@Rakesh, I had just seen some previews and synopsis for Firaaq. What you are describing does sound quite unbalanced. Hope you did answer Nandita's question of why not this?

τ ħ€ ĐάЎđяёάmёя said...

it is not abt helping...it is abt desperate to help to be on safe side...it is like clearing urself ..Oh i did my due duty towards India.now I m done and i can live peacefully here......


coz as an Indian their duty should never finish..but again

Exception lies...

I am said...

nah :) maaii to netaa logon ko hi dekhungii.... they inspire me :) :D

Aslam Pyarajan said...

I wish the world sees the working middle class which is growing in numbers to become upper middle class.

bbc episodes on indiya almost always show the bhooka nanga desh of mine (they start with dhaaravi, lurk around crowded mumbai local train and end in dabba-walaas).
buggers conveniently miss the thriving goodness we have.

both bhel puri stall and star studded hotels are part of india

Rakesh said...

Finally, I did see this one. Have to say, I am impressed by the movie and sick from the controversy. Do read my post about it.

aneri_masi said...

@aslam, I too would LOVE to see a movie about the progress an average Indian is making. Would so love to get together a bunch of friends and write a book or something together about this! Kya bolta?

ceedy said...

I read thru all this and all I say is I loved the movie...and this one proves - TRUTH HURTS....

aneri_masi said...

@ceedy, yes it does :( And we have become so accustomed to turning a blind eye to this truth, that it hurts more when an outsider comes and points at it!