Despite the accolades it’s receiving in the US, including eight Academy Awards last Sunday, one of this year’s best movies has been met with outrage and heavy criticism from India. If you haven’t caught the flick I suggest you go check it out just to see what all the fuss is about if for nothing else. The film is an amazing depiction of triumph through extreme poverty, corruption, and danger. Danny Boyle’s movie has been met with severe criticism and disdain across India culminating in the ransacking of a movie theatre last month.
The movie has been met with heavy protest across the vast country because of its depiction of India’s impoverished underbelly and the use of “dog” in the title. The Caste System, the poverty, and the slums have always been touchy subjects among native Indians. Indians are an extremely proud group of people that remain in constant conflict between the traditional values of their homeland and the emergence of India as one of the world’s premier economic powers. People from India often ignore the less desirable aspects of their nation like poverty and a rigid social culture, but having been there I don’t feel that the movie should be considered offensive by any means.
The truth of the matter is, while it would be foolish to ignore the great progress that has been made in the development of a large and thriving middle class, great poverty and social division do exist in India. Turning a blind eye to it is one way of addressing the problem, but I like Boyle’s way, depicting the beauty of the land alongside the problems. The movie contrasts the depressing slums with a love story so beautiful, half the football team cried during the movie.
The theme of the movie, in my opinion, is to demonstrate that no man can be considered inferior because of a social class, a lack of education or an impoverished state. The story exposes the beauty of a place that prevails despite the poverty, corruption, and crime. Perhaps the greatest conclusion that can be drawn from Boyle’s film is that although you may find people in India living in poverty, you will also find them smiling and laughing. There are young brothers on the streets involved in criminal activity in order to survive, but you will find a love between them that perseveres through the greatest perils the slum can offer. Although women are abused, their strength and beauty refuses to waver, and their love endures all the filth to remain pure.
Slumdog Millionaire is in no way an attack or an insult to the people of an India. It is a depiction of the region’s poverty, but more importantly it is a portrait of the beauty of the land’s people. Rather than ignore the ugliness of the slums, the movie focuses on the beauty of humanity that can survive any condition.