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India & Slum-Dog-Millionaire!

Few years earlier, when a Danny Boyle movie named ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ won Oscar, whole world went on praising that movie & the people who made that movie, except few people like me. No do not think that I did not like that movie. I also loved that movie like every other movie lover. I am also happy for the fact that few Indians, who were associated with the movie also got Oscar & got the global recognition for their work.

But few questions raised in my mind from that moment. Does India really all about slum, dog & millionaire? Do not people like me belong to my country? I do not stay in slums and I am not a dog. I am a common man of my country, like billions of other people of my country. Who is living a normal life like you people ; and yes I dream not only to be a millionaire but also to be a billionaire. But I want to achieve that dream with my talent & hard work; just like 90% of young people of my country. So why people across the world have this wrong perception that India is all about Slums, dogs & very few millionaires. Why people enjoy when my country is shown as a poor country having all the troubles in the world. These questions still hurt me.

That may be reality I do not know. I do not want to enter into that argument. But if a mother has 1.2 billion children, then obviously she has to face some problem while growing her children. My country is my mother and I am sure one day my mother will be able to feed all her children by her own. We people never seek other’s help to come out of our problem. We Indian’s have a tradition, when a guest comes to our home, we do not share our problems with him/her. Rather we try to give him/her love, care, happiness and comfort as much as we can. Then why people when come to my country only see all those problems my country has. Can’t they feel the good things my country has.

For me this is same as, you go to someone’s place to stay there; then keep an eye on the problems he/she is facing. And after that rather than helping him/her to overcome from those problems ;does it right to tell those things to all the people of world on a global platform? I do not think this is fair to show the dark side of my country on a global platform that is also by making it more visually perfect, which is very much different from the reality. Yes India is dealing with lots of problems, but not to that extent some people in the world visualizing it. Yes sometimes each one of us find it difficult to survive and compete with 1.21 billion other lives. But there is not a single country in the world which is not dealing with one problem or other.

I know you people are intelligent enough to get the right answer to the question “Is India all about Slum, Dog & very few Millionaires?” by yourself. But what i expect from you people is that, you will try to find the answer by your own, rather than going by someone else’s way of looking at India.

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65 thoughts on “India & Slum-Dog-Millionaire!

  1. If I admit to having not seen the movie, well, I’ll have to admit to just how many movies I have not seen. Many or most. I can’t decide which word to use.

    I’ve been lucky enough to know several people from India in the last 20 years. My nephew married into an enormous, wonderful Indian family from Bombay, and I have had colleagues for years who are from your beautiful country.

    There is not a slum, a dog, or a millionaire among them. There are a number of wonderful, fun, interesting, clever and funny people though. And a few good good writers — but only one blogger that I know!

    Does that make you feel better? A little bit?

    1. Yes, it makes me feel better for sure. :) I am the only blogger from my country, whom you know is something i need to remember. :)
      You have family connection with Bombay (Now it called as ‘Mumbai’). This city is called as city of dreams of my country.

      1. When I was in Geneva, everybody — Indian and non-Indian called it Mumbai. But none of the Americans I know from India do — I’ve asked. Isn’t it odd? I guess they have given up on the possibility that Americans will get it!

  2. You’re right, Arindam: People can’t generalize like that. Stereotypes are bad for any person from a specific country. Very good point. BTW, I have not seen that movie yet, I’m sad to say.

    1. Thanks a lot Mj. I am going to agree with you completely. If you can than watch this movie, but i can assure you there are some movies which are made in my country are much better than this one. But still they did n’t get the global recognition. May be because, those movies represent that India, which is growing.

  3. Arindam, I was so fortunate to be on a train in the U.S. that broke down. I hadn’t spoken more than 2 words to my seatmate since I’d boarded, but not knowing how long we’d be stalled on the tracks, I put my book down, Opened my pack ,and shared my snacks with the man next to me. And he told me of his country. I discovered how misinformed I was about India. I was sad when we finally pulled into the station, because he had so many stories to tell, and I didn’t want our journey to be over. Thank you for continuing to share the other perspective that people may be unaware of.

    1. Barb i can tell you one more thing, Indian people are really good at story telling. :) We start our life by hearing stories of different kings, Demons, God etc. etc. So I can assure you that, if you can start interacting with an Indian, then he will keep on entertaining you with his stories, until you get bored and want him to stop speaking. :)

  4. “I know you people are intelligent enough to get the right answer to the question “Is India all about Slum, Dog & very few Millionaires?” -of course not, there are a lot India can offer, I’m sure that they are unaware of but due to the generalized notion about your county (and my country) some of these people believe what they know of. Sad thing.

    I agree with mj monahan above “Stereotypes are bad for any person from a specific country.” -it’s very true…

  5. This is funny my friend because I was about to write a post to give a viewpoint on what I think of Manila, the capital city in the Philippines where “The Bourne Legacy” is currently shooting for some scenes. The city is badly reputed and not of all them are true enough, the better side are left unsaid, unshared… I hope to make a post about it later tonight or within next week…

    Thanks for sharing my friend.

    1. You must do it. We may not change the perception of all the people on our country, but at least we can try to reach those people, who want to know what the truth is. Best wishes for that post of yours. Looking forward to that post of yours.

      1. Actually I already did this via my comment to one of my posts (http://ilovemandaue.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/bourne-legacy-to-shoot-in-manila/)

        I’m quite content with mj monahan’s comment “Stereotypes are bad for any person from a specific country.” and Joe’s “There are homeless people and starving children EVERYWHERE, not just those countries! It’s not fair to stereotype anything or anybody on a global scale.” -very strong viewpoints and I totally agree with them…

        No worries my friend, everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion but stereotyping is just bad, very bad.

        Thanks for bringing this up and stay blessed always! :)

  6. Great post Arindam! And I completely agree with you. Just like India faces problems, the United States has their fair share of problems as well. It bothers me when those homeless and starving children commercials come on and they show the slums of Indian, Africa, and other “poorer” countries. There are homeless people and starving children EVERYWHERE, not just those countries! It’s not fair to stereotype anything or anybody on a global scale.

    Thanks for sharing your viewpoint with all of us. Great job!

    1. As always thanks buddy for your kind words. I respect every country and their people, but only if a cricket match is not going on with them. :) I always believe a country can never be represented as, good/bed, developed/undeveloped. It’s we the people who are responsible for our country’s future.

  7. I haven’t seen the movie either. But I can say with confidence that people all over the world in every country can be sadly misrepresented or depicted in one way of another, mainly due to ignorance. Great post, Arindam.

    1. Thanks a lot Darla. Watch that movie if you can, it’s a good movie for sure. But watch it as only a movie, do not think that it has anything to do with the reality. And believe me, there are much better movies than this one which represent my country in a better way. But they did not get the global recognition they deserves. May be it has something to do with the mind set of very few people. I really do not know, what’s the point in showing something as real, which is not the reality.

  8. Hi Arindam,
    I have not seen the movie that you mentioned in your post, I don’t recall reading about this movie either.
    But movies do tend to give out wrong impressions about many different parts of the world unfortunately, but with movies it is always about money they hope to make.

    I also have my own view of India, I have a couple of friends that were lucky enough to have gone there, and the stories and photos they have shared about the different places in India and the people that they met, told me of a country that I hope to one day be able to go and see.

    1. Yes, a movie maker always hope to make money. That’s true. But do not they hold any responsibility while showing the culture of a country and it’s people. Sometimes in order to get success, they send a wrong impression about that country to others.
      And yes, In India you have lots of things to see and appreciate. But yes, as the population is on the higher side in this part of the world, so you can’t expect everyone to be kind or honest. But yes, you will find many of them for sure. :)

  9. I haven’t seen the movie, either. Hollywood and the news media are only interested in selling their story. I think people are becoming more aware that what is broadcast is not always the whole truth. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perceptions. As our world becomes a “global community” the blinders will fall from our eyes, and we will see reality for ourselves.

    1. Thanks a lot Patti. Yes, i am sure one day the blinders will fall. Each one of us will consider the whole world as our own place, rather than considering only our country to be our own. We all need to understand that, if we want the world to prosper, then each part of it need to be developed.

  10. I’ve seen the movie and I agree wholeheartedly with this post! I too come from a country which the world has too many misconceptions about. It’s up to us, ‘the average joe’ to set the record straight.

    You are truly being the change that you want to see in the world – I commend your efforts Arindam – thank you for another great contribution to the Blogosphere.!

    1. Thanks a lot. :) I am glad you appreciate my effort. Yes it’s up to us, if we want to bring a change or not. At least we should try to show the true fact about our part of the world. We must realize that, not only our own country, but the whole world belongs to us. :)

  11. This is definitely worth the re-post. I don’t recall the issue between the names of Mumbai and Bombay before though. Was this the prompt? I’m glad more people are getting a chance to see your point of view on this movie.

    1. Renee you are the only person, who read this one before. This post is very close to my heart, so I just wanted to give this one another chance to make a mark. :)
      And yes, it has been a long time since Bombay is changed to Mumbai. Even names of lots of other cities are changed now. These things happen in India. :)

  12. Arindam, this is one of the reasons that I love the blogosphere. We have such a rich opportunity to move away from and beyond stereotypical ideas of who people are. Generalizations are the result of narrow-mindedness.

    Am I any better on the other end of the spectrum? To me, India is Mahatma Gandhi. It is Indira Gandhi (a woman who gave this Canadian courage to think “leader”.). India is spirituality, gurus, and Buddha.

    As a child, I loved seeing the colors of India – the beauty of the people. I still find Indian people incredibly gorgeous. I decided many years ago it was because your people held the secret of inner beauty shining through to the glory of presentation.

    Yes, I know of the slums, the hardships, the Caste System and children picking through dumps. I agree, every country has poverty. I can only keep believing that we will all take responsibility and take care of our own – AND others when we can.

    Can you imagine our world if all of us cleaned up our own back yards and grew gardens?

    1. Yes I always imagine that only. If we can clean our own back yards and grew gardens, then the world will be a beautiful place to live.
      Yes India is about spirituality, gurus & Buddha; but i am not sure if India is all about Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi. At least I am not a big follower of Indira Gandhi. I can really assure you, there are much more intelligent people and honest people & great visionaries in India. But what they did for this country, never reached to the people world wide. It’s only because they preferred to bring a change rather than saying others to be the change you want to. and it’s really interesting that, people of other countries do not know there is no real relationship between Indira Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi. Even some of my country’s people do not know that. If some one will ask me what is the one thing I am ashamed about India? My answer will be, “Politics and Politicians”. But the worrying factor is, if some one will ask me if I want to join politics. My answer will be , “No”. I know it’s our responsibility to bring a change; but no one of us is ready to enter in to the dirty politics of India. May be we do not have that confidence in us that we can change it.

  13. I completely understand your concern about the film misrepresenting India. In my line of work – the media – it happens all the time (and I am not proud of it). How often do you for instance read or hear or see a positive story from Africa? There are so mane misconceptions connected with any country. I also believe that many people are intelligent enough to see that the media or a movie like Slum Dog Millionaire doesn’t show the one and only character of a country. They know that there are many facets to any “true”. I have to admit I enjoyed the humour in Slum Dog Millionaire, but at the same time I never took it for being the only truth about India. I also believe in an open society where we can show all sides and shades of the same society. That doesn’t reflect poorly on the inhabitants. Because in all countries the majority of the people are honest, hard-working members of the society with dreams and aspiration for both themselves and their country. Such as you.

    1. I will completely agree with you. Even I also liked the humor in that movie. But it hurts when I see a movie like this gets the global recognition, where as there are much better movies than this one; which were made in my country got in to the top five list of Oscar, but could n’t win it. I believe it has something to do with the mindset of some of these people; who do not want to accept the truth that countries like India and Africa has lots of things to offer other that poverty and unemployment.
      I just hope that people like you, who are in this creative field will understand the sensitivity of this issue. Thank you for sharing your thought with us.

  14. When I hear the word “India” I think of a beautiful country with a rich heritage and culture. I think of the scenic landscapes and of people who are optimistic, hardworking, spiritual, who have courage in their hearts. India reminds me of my country, the Philippines. Yes, it’s a third world country. Yes, there’s poverty but there’s too the amazing landscapes, the dreamy beaches, the people who never ran out of smiles and generosity despite of hardships, who works hard to give a better life for the families. My country is also given a negative image by the International media as well as in some movie “quotes.” It’s not fair . It’s unkind and rude. It’s prejudging the whole country and labeling the people as “this” of “that.” So, yes Bro, I’m totally digging and agreeing with you. Third world countries are not about “slums”, “dogs” and about instant “millionaire” gigs. It’s about real people with hopes and dreams….Sorry, went overboard on this. You got me inspired! Stay cool….

    1. No brother you did not go overboard on this. You spoke your heart out, that to be completely true. If some people can show negative image of our countries to different people across the world, than what’s wrong if, we are writing our heart out to justify what our country & its people are really about. As long as we are speaking the truth, everything is fine.
      And yes I also heard that, “Philippines” is a beautiful country with happy & wonderful people. I feel you must write a post on “Philippines”, and give all a chance to know , what this beautiful country is all about. Our attempts to show what our country is all about may not reach to all the people, but it will reach to some people and also inspire some other people to try to bring our own countries real image in front of others.

  15. First of all, I want you to know I’m a huge fan of the movie; in fact, I’ve watched it over and over again not to mention pausing the DVD when Freida Pinto appears on the screen. I was just kidding at the last part.

    Here’s what I really want you to know, I never thought nor saw India in its SLUMDOG FAME state, so to say. Certainly because since high school (13 years ago), my mind was already fueled with beautiful things about India — from culture to tourist spots, wise man and Book of Guinness record holders, etc. Thanks to our history book, other sources and to the fact that my country, Philippines, is part of the third world country. Let me explain the inclusion of the latter. Considering that in Metro Manila, where I’m now based, I’ve seen more than two slum areas that are far worse than what’s on the movie. My point is, the part where the movie was shot is just but a part of the many parts of the beautiful and spectacular India like my now more fun country, Philippines.

    I’d like to support the idea that India is NOT just about Slum, Dog, & very few Millionaires. It is about rich culture, wise men, exemplary people like Mother Teresa, articulate (especially in English) speakers, beautiful women, the emerging center of advanced technology, eccentric yet admirable people, magnificent architectures, supersonic fighter jets (HAL Tejas by ADA) manufacturers … and so forth. It’s one of the countries The Wandering Feet (& Mind) wants to set foot on, at the right time.

    1. Even as a movie, I liked it. But it was nothing out standing. I can give you names of, hundreds of movies better than this one, which are made on India and Indian people. But I do not know why they did not get that much appreciation world wide, which they deserved. Even I like Freida Pinto. And I am not kidding. :)
      Nice to hear that, you know so much things about India, specially HALTejas. I just wish all the people will see good things about each other country, rather than just bringing those bad things in to lime light.
      It was a pleasure to read your comment Sony. I hope to see you again here. Best wishes to you and your blog.

  16. I remember having the same conversation with Priya about this movie. I think for many people, it takes too much time to really learn about other places. It’s easier to reinforce their own simplistic views of the world. And in this case, Slumdog Millionaire was so well-done, its impact was even stronger. Distorted impressions are sometimes difficult to dislodge, unless we have the will to do so.

    Your love of India is infectious, Arindam. I hope you’ll write more about it.

    1. Yes, Sir Charles “Distorted impressions are difficult to dislodge, unless we have the will to do so”. I can tell you, when I was in school and college, I and all my friends had an impression that, “People from other parts of world are different from us”. But now as lots of my friends are happily staying in various parts of world, thanks to our IT jobs; we all realized that, we all are same from our heart. There will be both good and bad people in every country; but it purely depends upon the individual, it has nothing to do with that country. Now we all laugh, when we chat about how we never in our dreams also thought that, we will cross the borders.

      Yes Sir Charles I will try to write about India more. Thank you for visiting my blog. As always it’s my pleasure to see you in my blog. :)

    1. Thanks a lot Stacie. It’s all my pleasure to see you in my blog. You have a wonderful blog, I will back to read more of your writings. Best wishes to you and your blog. :)

  17. This is a fantastic post — I read it’s a repost, and I think it was a brilliant idea of yours to post it again; it’s that important.

    You make so many good points, among them, “Why people enjoy when my country is shown as a poor country having all the troubles in the world. These questions still hurt me.”

    I’ve seen the movie, and thought it was very well done — as a movie. But it’s not the truth, and you eloquently pointed out how it hurts when things are shaded a certain way, just for the sake of Hollywood. It’s a horrible practice, but of course, it happens all the time.

    As a former reporter, there was a saying the newsrooms went by, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Meaning, the most sensational coverage would get top priority. I wish it wasn’t so — but that is just one reason I left the business. One thing I learned, is that whoever a story is about — a person, a group, a culture — that “someone” is never satisfied with the story’s presentation. I saw this over and over, and finally I figured out why. It’s because there is always a flip side to the story that’s been left out. Some details too “everyday” or “boring” to be included. But those “everyday” moments are the ones that make us who we are. And it’s no wonder if a story is only half-told that the subject of the story will feel slighted. Rightly so.

    Even Erin Brockovich didn’t like the movie about her when it first came out. Julia Roberts had portrayed all the “sensational” aspects of Brockovich’s life and it was a spectacularly popular movie. People were touched, inspired by it. But the real person behind the story was very upset. She thought the movie was inaccurate, over-the-top — and of course it was. But in this case, Brockovich quickly came around once she saw the overwhelmingly positive response to her movie, and the publicity it generated for her causes.

    Still, it’s nearly impossible to “biographize” a person or a country, and do it fairly. Do it justice. Which is why we need people like you to remind us “this movie is only one viewpoint.” It is a lot more work to see the beauty in something, just as it is, and I am grateful you posted about just that.

    1. Thanks a lot Melissa. Yes it was the second post of my blog. I hope not many people read this. I got only 2 comments to this post, when I posted it for the first time. So I thought to repost it. In this part of the world also, the most sensational coverage always gets top priority. And it really hurts. You mentioned so many things which are completely true in this comment of yours.
      I can give you an example- when Kargil war was going on and so many soldiers were killing. The headline of most the news channels were, one movie actor’s fight with another movie actor for the sake of an actress. This one is the worst example of how television media works now-a-days.

      I specially like that statement of yours; where you wrote, “those “everyday” moments are the ones that make us who we are.”. It’s so true.
      Thank a lot Melissa, for sharing your own experience here. It’s always my pleasure to read comments of yours.

  18. I read it, and I get the message. Thanks for that knowledge

    Not to contradict or anything. When I saw Slumdog Millionaire, I didn’t appreaciate for the opening the movie is implying. I loved it for the whole storyline. I didn’t really pay too much attention to the status of the location. Just saying.

    1. Yes Rommel I will agree with your point of view. Even I loved it a lot as a movie. But my point is that, Why to make this movie based on India, that to be giving it a realistic look. I hope it gives a wrong message to the world. And what hurt me most that, this movie got Oscar although there are much better movie than this one, which reach to the top five nomination for Oscar, but could not able to win it. It really hurts.

      Thanks a lot Rommel for this thought provoking comment. Nice to see you in my blog. It’s all my pleasure to see you here. Best wishes to you and your blog. :)

  19. Sadly this is the same problem with the way Africa is portrayed in movies… same old, same old stereotypes! And like you, I love the movie but it makes us wonder too. Great post.

    1. Thanks a lot for the support. Yes same old stereotypes. That’s why we must try in to change that. It may look small but I am really satisfied that at least I tried to say, what I wanted to. :)

    1. Yes, you are absolutely right, every country has it’s own problem. And thank you for saying these beautiful words on India. It means a lot. Best wishes to you. :)

  20. Greetings Arindam,

    While I’ve not seen the movie that is the basis for your article, I did read your article. I think the way major news media distorts places, people, and events, to suit their needs and to appease their Government’s (at least our Government’s) lust for war, it is even more refreshing to read these blogs.

    By blogging, we can obtain a one on one, personal view of each others lives without being told how the people of other Nations feel. People are individuals and I think most of us love our Countries. While I must admit, I love America, I am thoroughly disgusted with our leadership. Just as the Media focuses on the slum areas of India, so do they focus on a rosy job outlook here in the States . . . it’s a lie. They twist and distort facts, thinking that people are not intelligent enough to think for themselves and/or to find their own beauty outside of the major media headlines. America has many, many slum Areas, but the Media seems to focus on the Million dollar mansions (in America) that few of us can afford. I think in this day and age, the Internet will serve as a tool to reveal the truth about the World, one Nation at a time. All Nations have both, wealth and poverty, but until the control of the Nations is removed from the hands of the powerful few, that gap will be wide. Thankfully, people like you and me are able to express our views, share our stories, and reveal truths the media will not tell. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is important that the people worldwide keep the door of communication open without the media telling us how and what we should think.

    1. Hello Orples,
      I am going to agree with you on every thing you said in the above comment. I always think we are not only blogging to share our personal life with others; but also to try our best to honestly bring those real facts about our part of world. It may not bring a massive change to the world and it’s people; but it can be a start to a healthy tradition in terms of blogging. Let me tell you, If someone will ask me the worst about my country; it will be politics undoubtedly To be honest, I feel ashamed thinking that those corrupted people represents all of us.
      I am really glad that, There is someone as you, who is trying to bring a change through words just like me. Thank you for sharing such an honest & intelligent thought here. It’s my pleasure to see you & read your comment on this post. Now.onward I will wait for your comments on my posts. :)

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