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Slumdog wags its tale

[ 2009-03-02 19:41]     字号 [] [] []  
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Slumdog Millionaire is many things: It is a multiple award winner, having garnered five Critics' Choice Awards, four Golden Globes and seven BAFTA Awards. It has been nominated for 10 Academy Awards and is widely considered a frontrunner for Best Picture.

So, why isn't every Indian happy about it?

Slumdog wags its tale

 Jamal Malik played by Dev Patel and Latika by Freida Pinto in Slumdog Millionaire.

From what I've read, quite a lot of Indians feel great about this crowd pleaser. They say its depiction of poverty is "spot on". But there is no question many are ticked off by it. And for me, it is a reminder of the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon saga, which played out in similar ambivalence in 2001 when it, too, went up for 10 Academy Award nominations and ultimately won four.

The difference is, the kungfu epic was directed by an ethnic Chinese while the kinetic fairytale from Mumbai was helmed by an Englishman. That could bruise a few egos when the film turned out to be a runaway success. Authenticity would invariably become the focus.

Slumdog wags its tale

Is Slumdog an accurate reflection of reality? I haven't been to India, which deprives me of a say in this matter. But I speculate that certain parts of the city may look like that. However, the movie is not meant to be all-inclusive. I'm sure there are places in Mumbai that are middle-class clean and high-society opulent. Well, every metropolis in the world has its underbelly.

Of course, third-world countries have more. But countries like India and China are undergoing such drastic changes that whatever you see today could be different tomorrow. And that is touched upon in the movie.

The real culprit is the outsider status of the creative force, or the principal members of it. Domestic critics picked on Ang Lee, saying he did not really know martial arts. And domestic audiences remained unimpressed, justifying Oscars' fascination with the rationale that Americans had never seen high-wire fighting. Only after such towering personalities as Louis Cha came out to endorse the movie did the public realize that Lee's version of kungfu was nothing but better than what we used to see.

People in general do not like others to find fault with their home country. The controversy surrounding Slumdog has happened many times in China: Some in China called for banning Mission Impossible 3 because it showed Shanghai residences with clotheslines outside their windows. As if that's an offense.

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