What do you make about the controversy over Slumdog Millionaire in India?
In the first place, let us make it clear that it is not an Indian film. If it wins an Oscar, we should not go around saying an Indian film won an Oscar. Slumdog is an international film. To be precise, it is a British film.
Why did it become so controversial in India, with people saying it is poverty porn or claiming it shows India in a poor light?
[Director] Danny Boyle did not invent the slums we see in the film. As for some people fearing that the film could deter some foreigners coming to Mumbai, I think there is some merit in that fear. The film would not have become controversial had it not become a big hit abroad. And then there was this factor of so many people in India adopting it, as it were an Indian film. That added to the controversy, too.
Despite controversies, Slumdog hasn't done badly in India. It has grossed something like $5 million which is not bad for an English-language film.
It did quite well in India and Fox Searchlight did a very good job of marketing it here. The film has a high curiosity value and it has been at the forefront of entertainment news for about three weeks, winning one award after another. And then there are Oscar nominations. But to most Indians the film would not work because it is like they have been there and seen it all. But abroad, it is seen as a film about the triumph of underdog. In the times of economic distress, especially in the West, I think people like to root for the underdog.
In the picture: Freida Pinto in a scene from Slumdog Millionaire
Also See: Showcasing Slumdog Millionaire