All this talk about Slumdog Millionaire and some other western films making money by selling Indian poverty is just a bunch of nonsense! I can’t understand the criticism about why western movies keep showcasing India’s dark and unpleasant underbelly. I mean, isn’t it common sense? People are always going to be attracted to things that they don’t see or experience in their day to day lives. Why should westerners be attracted by India’s pockets of modernity, when they’re surrounded by far better modernity all around, back home?
Let’s look at this through a reverse example. Why are Bollywood movies increasingly being shot or based in some of the most beautiful locations around the world? Why don’t our directors go to some poor African country and base their story there? Simple logic — we have enough slums and poverty here in India, and we don’t need to see more of the same from other parts of the world!
Similarly, it doesn’t make sense for a western director to shoot India’s malls and buildings and so on, as the viewers back in their countries would’ve been exposed to a hundred times better infrastructure all their lives!
The keyword here is “exotic”, which means unusual. Unusual for the viewer. Something that they don’t see in their routine life. And what’s exotic for us isn’t necessarily exotic for them, is it?
Besides, if people here feel so strongly about India being depicted in this way to western audiences, then why don’t we do something about our poverty, slums and illiteracy, instead of indulging in senseless protests against some western film? Don’t shoot the messenger just because you don’t like the message!
The whole problem in India is no one bothers to follow rules, and no one cares to enforce them. This is what we know as the “chalta hai” attitude. In developed countries, a rule is a rule. People drive in lanes, don’t encroach footpaths, don’t litter streets, believe in dignity of labour. The Government, on its part, pays public servants well, provides the best of infrastructure, effective law enforcement and healthcare, uses technology to communicate with citizens better, and keeps the system well oiled and working effectively.
Here we believe in blaming the other for our woes. People blame the authorities, who in turn blame the people. We all have a role in creating a society worth living in. The only question is, how long before we in India realise this?