Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tale of two directors

-By Swetha Amit
Often to present something on the pretext of novelty, the same product is utilized and painted with a different shade entirely. Yet the authenticity of its true flavor cannot be ignored especially with its roots carrying the original aroma. To make matters worse, extensive marketing is mixed to dilute this ‘new’ product leading to the ‘maker’ winning a reward and an award eventually. The standing ovations, accolades and ‘globe’ trotting become the price tags. It tends to make one wonder if the same would be attained when the product is unadulterated and presented with its original roots and ethnicity.

Such is the case of the movie with 10 Oscar nominations, leading to a mad rush of jubilation despite the fact of the sub continent portrayed as a land of poverty and snake charmers still. Strangely when progression rate is even faster than the space shuttles and the local trains of the maximum city. What is even stranger is that depiction of poverty is what leads to such films made in India get international acclaim, whether it is a Lagaan, Salaam Bombay or a Mother India. No doubt Slumdog Millionaire does possess good cinematography and pace. However it is hard to believe that over sixty years Indian cinema hasn’t made films on several other issues which were ‘up to the mark’. International honor certainly tends to come at a cost, a compromise which consists of defacing our nation. Not to mention the subtle streaks of racism prevailing in what seems like a casual exchange between the kid and the American lady in the movie.

It’s queer to note as well the absence of Indian Cinema Oscar nominees in the categories of Best Actor/Supporting Actor. While the flavor is Indian and the spice being Mumbai/Delhi, it is nevertheless being stirred by a British cook whose intense expertise cannot churn out the ‘real’ essence of ‘Hindustan’. It is quite similar to having ‘Chai’ on foreign soil.

It’s sad to realize that the ‘hard hitting reality’ element tends to get such recognition by one with white skin portraying brown skin as under dogs. And other films made by a certain Indian director of the same genre, find its entry barred by hostile gates of the west.

Madhur Bhandarkar’s Chandni Bar embarked the start of a new perspective on Indian films. It broke all conventional barriers and gave birth to a new trend of intelligent and offbeat cinema which also set the cash registers of the box office jingling. When earlier it was of the notion that such films catered only to a niche audience and are not commercially successful. Page 3 proved it wrong as national award found its rightful place in the hands of the director, with Traffic signal completing the hat trick. Thinking back to the latter, one cannot help but realize that it portrayed several similarities to Slumdog Millionaire if they eliminate the ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ show and the direction by a foreigner.

It’s disheartening to note that while one gruesome portrayal by Danny Boyle was met with standing ovation all over the world, the other chooses to get a cold shoulder from its own family members. A step motherly treatment is further seen when Bhandarkar’s Fashion was clearly omitted out of the nomination lists in the latest screen awards. While it managed to find its place amidst other categories like Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. One must duly note the fact that while the colors of a flowery garden look appealing to the naked eye, it wouldn’t have been feasible without the perseverance of a gardener on towing the soil rightly. Similarly without the Director’s skill and feat, the ingredients of a good film and its star cast performances would have not found their road to success.

In order to put India on the globe, it doesn’t cease for our own people to appreciate topics like poverty made by people like Boyle with such fervor. At least not at the cost of neglecting the brilliant expertise of our own directors. More than the attitude of the westerners towards us, it’s humiliating to realize our own hypocritical stance and attitude towards Indian films. In all probability this has what has led to international interference and us being taken advantage of for their selfish motives. While he walks away with the honors, what are we left with? Honor of being recognized as a third world nation still? Or honor of letting our own people down? Choosing outsiders at the price of treating our own race as an outcast?

What is it that leads to such an attitude?
It is written
Temptations of the west
Lack of national pride

Indeed it’s a million dollar question but doesn’t necessarily require only a ‘Chai wala’ to answer this one.

Just like in the movie where the American says: “This is the real America” while handing over the dollar depicting subtly the streak of racism. It is yet another hard hitting reality to hand over the discriminating attitude of our own kith and kin and say “This is the real India.”

Is this hard hitting reality even worse than the slum portrayal? Maybe this can be depicted in another Madhur Bhandarkar film. Hopefully this time one can pray that it doesn’t get an ‘ignore’ tag yet again.
Written for www.msn.co.in



Blogger KParthasarathi said...

Well said and forcefully too.When will this genuflection at the altar of anything foreign will stop?

5:17 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

A million dollar question. Lot of people are raving about it and the movie isnt half good as the hype generated. There have been better Bollywood films which have portrayed poverty and yet it takes a foreigner for us to give it a standing ovation. Sad but true.

5:11 PM  
Blogger KParthasarathi said...

Could the subjugation under foreign rule for more than two centuries produced this mind set of looking for approbation for anything and everything that we do from fairer skins?It is the written media which encourages this mentality, I strongly believe.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

There does exist a possibility and yes they do seem curious/fascinated about intrinsic details of our country. I've seen quite a bit of them click pictures of road side stalls, street shops and everything here in Mumbai. Not that anyhing's wrong with that. Cant say about the written media though. Maybe it does.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Comments on MSN:

Venkat - Dar on 2/6/2009 12:28:57 PM
A very good one as usual, Swetha!

1:30 AM  

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