Thursday, March 14, 2013

Movie - Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

By Richard E. Noble

This movie is touted as “the feel good movie of the year.” Anybody who watched this movie and left feeling good about it, in my opinion, is lacking in something vital to their social conscience.

I don’t know what the creators’ intentions were with this film but I will certainly not be planning my next getaway vacation to India.

After watching this movie, I am left feeling much as I did after watching the movie, “Midnight Express.” I was happy for the man’s release from the Turkish prison in Midnight Express, just as I am happy for the two slumdogs who are the protagonists in this movie.

I definitely think this movie warrants praise and it deserves any awards that have been accorded to it but it certainly didn’t make me feel good. It made me feel very, very bad.

A slumdog appears to be India’s modern day equivalent to what was once referred to in that culture as “Untouchables.” The word “slumdog” is, of course, meant to be derogatory. An English equivalent might be dirtbag or scumbag.

India once suffered under what was called a caste system and it appears from this movie that they still do.

Supposedly this caste system belief is a part of the Hindu religion and its notion of reincarnation and Karma. It is a system of social stratification and a person’s karma, his behavior in his previous lives, determines his position in his present life.

The karma of certain people is so bad that they are placed in a caste not included in even the lowest caste of the caste system.

They are the Untouchables or the Dolits.

I remember reading about the horrid lives of these poor Untouchables decades ago.

I thought Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” was a horror story until I began reading about the real lives of the Untouchables in the non-fiction Indian culture.

These people lived in garbage dumps and scavenged and begged for their survival. The parents in these families would cripple, maim and blind their children so as to make them better beggars and increase their beggary dividends.

If I can believe this movie, it does not appear that much has changed in the Indian culture of today. I think it was George Orwell who stated, in his trekking India travelogue, that India would never become a great country because of its Hindu beliefs and the Hindu acceptance of fate and destiny and consequently poverty and social injustice and inequality. Considering the impressions left by this movie, I think he makes a good point.

This movie undermines all that I have been reading lately about the new India and the social progress it has been making over the past few decades.

That there are people living in India today who are boasting that they will soon be the leading economic culture in the world boggles my imagination. Much worse than that is the notion that if this actually were to be the case, the picture of the future that this film paints for the world is bleak indeed.

On the surface this is a love story. But unfortunately the moral, only revealed at the conclusion of the movie is one from that old time religion based on the Hindu notion of karma, destiny and fate.

So it seems that the Hindu caste system and the faith that spawned it are still alive and well in modern day India – at least according to this movie.

The male hero’s mother is murdered as she washes her clothes in some filthy pool of water. Her murder is not explained other than it had something to do with rivaling religious fanatics.

The two sons are now orphaned slumdogs. They are captured by a Faganesque, drug dealing gangster. He tortures, maims and brutalizes his captives to keep them in line and enhance their beggary. The two brothers and the younger brother’s little girlfriend attempt an escape before the younger boy is blinded by his tortures.

The boys escape but the little girl does not catch the train and remains with the drug dealing gangster and his gang of cutthroats. The remainder of this tale centers on this couple’s reunification.

Somehow mixed in here in this slum ridden, horror show of a country, a modern day TV program is incorporated into the film. As hard as it is to believe, the younger brother has matured and is a contestant on the TV show, an Indian version of “Who wants to be a millionaire.”

The show ends in a Michael Jackson type dance celebration and production extravaganza.

As I said in the beginning of this review, I do not know the real intentions of the creators of this film but they left a huge impression on me.

Unfortunately that impression is extremely negative.

At one point in the movie, one of the characters says to somebody,
“Well, you wanted to see a true picture of the real India, didn’t you?”

My god! Thank-you very much but I’ve seen enough of the “real” India to last me a good while.

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