Monday, March 02, 2009

Vinod Mehta on Slumdog Millionaire celebration

So, what’s changed with Slumdog Millionaire? As far as exploitation of poverty goes, Danny Boyle is up there with Katherine Mayo’s Mother India, which Gandhiji dismissed as a "drain inspector’s report". Why is the English-speaking elite going gaga, heaping extravagant praise? Beginning with the President to the PM to the leader of the Opposition to the Shiv Sena boss, it seems everyone wants a piece of the Slumdog pie. Could this unexpected triumph on Sonia Gandhi’s watch boost the Congress election prospects?

These are weighty questions best set aside. What disturbs me about the Oscar achievement is the collateral fragrance it spreads around our mushrooming slums. We are told Dharavi is a slum of vibrancy, enterprise, the triumph of the human spirit and a model of inter-communal living. Another collateral boon: superpower India has at last come to terms with its penury. It is comfortable with its poverty. If you will pardon my French, that’s bullshit!


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