Indian Winter, Slums, Slums and More Slums

Hope 2010 is going well for you so far.

Angry young woman that I am, the mention of Slumdog Millionaire gets my goat on most days. I think it’s a decent, engaging film, and have sat through it more than once. But the moment somebody feels that they know anything about Bollywood, Indian Cinema or India because they like the film, I get a little livid. Slums are a big part of Indian reality/ realty. Poverty exists. But so do many other things. By all means, make films, documentaries and the rest about slums, but a little something else isn’t bad?

Channel 4 and other channels annoy me a bit on this matter. Either they cover the absolute wealth of rich Indians who have 5000 guests for their weddings, or the blinding poverty of slums/ rural India. Yes, it’s a country of contrasts, and extremes makes for better television, but some people have found interesting ways of talking about India without launching into eye watering tales of grim childhoods.

Indian Winter on Channel 4 has this note

Channel 4 brings together the very best film, drama, features and factual programming in early 2010 in a season that celebrates India, exploring its rich culture, culinary traditions and the human stories that shape one of the world’s most diverse and captivating countries.

Of the six programmes, four are somehow or the other based on slums. And the one film is Om Shanti Om. Ugh.

13 Comments

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13 Responses to Indian Winter, Slums, Slums and More Slums

  1. clichedelk0

    hmmm “little livid” ?

  2. Damn, I think it’s either Rajkumar Hirani/Dibakar Banerjee of this era or Hrishikesh Mukherjee of the bygone for this people to get some perspective!

  3. Hmm. I’ve worked on two of the four. And my friend, on the other two. Believe me, I’m tired of films based on slums too.

    The redeeming factor in both the programs I worked on – Secret Millionaire, and Dispatches: Children of Mumbai (sorry, I know for a fact that the producer and director fought hard not to use the word Slumdog, but I guess Channel 4 thinks that’s a big marketing point), we were able to help the people we shot with in very concrete ways.

    Salaam for instance, is now settled into a residential school, and am hoping that Deepa will be too. The twins are another story, they need a lot of counselling to go back to school or any kind of disciplined life. And the fact that they have each other just makes it harder.

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  5. Milton

    Well, these guys are suddenly (possibly perversely) fascinated by the slums, but slums are there everywhere in that country. So instead of getting livid about anything, lets all try to fix the problem. Can we ?

  6. Sandeep

    Don’t know why no one from Chennai hasn’t written about or noticed this. The corporation is discreetly, efficiently getting rid of all the slums in Chennai.

  7. Amit Verma (India Uncut) calls this phenomena “poverty porn”… I am tempted to agree.

  8. Varun

    “Novel” approach to Indian slums…slums are not just all over the movies, but novels as well..take Shantaram as an example!

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  10. Neha viswanathan

    “but a little something else isn’t bad?” – apologies, but it is exactly this attitude that has ensured that poverty remains in our country. A little, anything else is bad. I was not going to write this comment, but couldnt stop myself. Think, is all I can say.

  11. Amit

    “[..] but it is exactly this attitude that has ensured that poverty remains in our country.”

    MrDalal, how so? Please explain.

    Are “this attitude” and “focusing on poverty” mutually exclusive? And pray, tell me, what can a mango man do to alleviate poverty? Isn’t that the job of policy makers?

    Besides, if India’s middle class is booming and exploding, is that not an indication that many have pulled themselves up and out from the levels of poverty?

  12. Devanshi

    Couldnt agree more!! Its insane how many times the word ‘Slumdog’ is used, and cant deal with how Indian Winter is so obsessed with slums or the super rich!
    and terribly annoying how they seem to shape the idea of India

  13. I think us Indians (or should I say most immigrants) as a whole have a very large advantage over the developed world, when it comes to creating impressions about our country. Indian diaspora is huge, very well educated and connected and very well spread. For us, how we intereact with people of different nationalities in different countries will have a much larger impact on the impression that people from other countries have about India and Indians. Showing 4 of 6 programs on slums should not make a huge impact to the general impression about India and Indians. According to the planning commission of India 27.5% of Indians were below the poverty line (2004-05 numbers). So maybe 1.5 or 2 out of 6 programs would have been a more equitable distribution. They could have used the other 2 programs for showing saas-bahu soaps. That would have been much more interesting and maybe more representative as well.