29 March 2009
It is this second India, which is depicted as the central theme in not only SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, but also in this years Booker Award winning novel THE WHITE TIGER. So, is there finally some sense of connection with the India ,which is lagging behind and and trying to survive the onslaught of the prosperous India? Let us talk about these artistic creations first. What I sincerly feel is , that ,both these creations should be viewed mainly as a piece of art.they are not meant to be viewed as surveys. To demand authenticity from an art form is like demanding electricity from an water storage tank. But for few reasons I expected some authenticity from these creations.To be true I must say that Adiga’s novel disappointed me completely on this front.The main protagonist Munna’s tale is a commentary on India.But It is not Munna’s tale.It is Adiga who speaks on his behalf. What Adiga says and describes through Munna's storiy ,is not,what he ,himself has seen or felt, but only what he thinks and perceives, others should feel in any given circumstances. And here he has failed very miserably. Every individual irrespective of his class or caste has his own share of joy,happiness and hope.Any novel must see and depict those joys and emotions .This makes the novel authentic.The White Tiger not only lacks authenticity it also lacks the grip over human emotions .it has just been reduced to a commentary, which is very sadly, one sided and tourist eyed. it sees darkness but shuts its eyes to light. In comparison, Slumdog Millionaire scores some points over White Tiger. it is not lost compeletely in the murkier aspects of life.It inspires hope. It has some very visible shades of real India.but ,still the question of authenticity haunts it too. The film is basically a fairytale , an impossible story of triumph of hope. contrary to popular beliefs,It is neither a story of indian slums,nor is it based on the lives of slumdwellers.Slumdog Millionaire lacks sympathy with the people of slums.the scene in which the boy,Salim emerges from an oozing latrine is aimed at generating sensation rather than empathy with the slum lives. to bill slumdog a poverty porn is not fair. Slumdog is not a poverty porn.In India poverty is a reality,which must be faced head on,and any attempt of exposing the matrix of poverty should be welcomed.But sadly, in Slumdog Millionare,poverty is no problem.For every slum dweller poverty leads to work,whichever work they opt.It may be car washing to stealing to robbery.But this is not the case with Slumdog Millionaire.There is not a single turn in story which is the result of poverty. basically what we admire about slumdog millionaire is not related with the story itself but the technique of story telling. So why so much euphoria over the oscar to slumdog millionaire?isn’t it true that if the same film would not have won the Oscars ,we won’t have given much attention to it..In recent years we had some very soul touching films made in India, like , HAZARON KHWHAISHEN AISI , WATER ,DOR, SWADESH,THE WEDNESDAY,or AAMIR but these film went passed us, almost unnoticed. In fact in the case of Slumdog Millionaire,we are not stuck by the concept of the film but by the international awards it haswon. The euphoria generated by this film is understandable.an Oscar has always been an elusive dream for many Indians.Winning no Oscars may be due to many reasons.It may be due to the fact that we are still not grown up to the standard of the west,or it may be due to our emphasis on commercial cinema,but it may also be due to our colonial history.or it may even be due to the perceived inferiority of Indian cinema in the minds of western world. This theory may be applied to understand the fact ,that in almost, last one hundred years no Indian author (those who write in regional languages),have been able to win any big international award. Does it mean that the local Indian literature is substandard and second class.many of you, unfortunately believe,it to be true. If any of yoy would have read, KITNE PAKISTAN by Kamleshwar,or KALIKATHA VIA BIPASS, by. Alka Saragwi or DEEWAR ME KHIDKI REHTI THI by Vinod Kumar Shukla or LEKIN DARWAJA by Pankaj Bishta,or RAAG DARBARI by Shrilal Shukla,or novels by Mahashweta Devi, or Indira Goswami,and those innumerable intense tales of human emotions and plight ,written in our native languages,then only you could understand the truth behind the advertised idea of inferiority of Indian language and literature. If only you would have read RAMCHARIT MANAS, or PADMAVAT, then only you could have resisted the label of “below standard”, pasted on our language and literature. But being a former colony we have grown in such a way that we always yearn for international recognition.in fact we have become a glory starved nation.the irony is that an international award can even prompt us to celebrate our own poverty.but we ourselves keep on neglecting our own rich heritage. Perhaps ,one day when people,from the other side of the globe will recognise our own language, our own literature,our art and architecture,our cultre, then only we shall be able to understand the importance of it. till then, it is OK with Arundahti Roys,Arvind Adigas , Mcburgers,Pizzas ,Zazz,. Pop Music, belly dance and ..............keep waiting for outside recognition.
24 March 2009
It is really shocking that we rarely celebrated for genuine reasons. I believe it will be disturbing you now.So,why not do some soul searching?? Isn't it true that we have become a country ,going almost medalless in Olympics for years,a country producing rather no noble laureates,(Amartya sen, and Mother Terressa being the exceptions,but do they owe their noble to India???),a country winning no Oscar awards in decades,A country standing way behind the developed countries, in terms of per capita income,literacy,life expectancy,child mortality,disease iradication...etc... and finally to acountry which is suffering from the disease of mass amnesia. why has this situation arisen ?? I believe its answer lies somewhere in our colonial history. During British rule over India,a propaganda was always propagated that Indians are deprived of any great cultural history and that a good shelf of books of Britain will weigh heavier than all the literature India and the Arabian world has,and whatever is good and great is from west. Indians are just a bunch of snake and monkey charmers. We need not to say that this propaganda could not hold ground.Our national leaders and reformers opposed any such idea of British supremacy with recreating our own sense of history. Since independence this sense of history,the pride we can take from our own cultural heritage, slowly but steadily started evaporating. this was due to deliberate neglect of our own culture,language and history. Our social and political reformers had always stressed on modernization of society, rather than on westernization.but sadly enough we opted for westernization and even on englishization. English was promoted on the pretext of making use of it as our national and global language.We believed that English opens the doors of civilization,and can help average middle class indian in getting decent jobs. So english was promoted as progressive language,and regional languages,specially hindi, as backward language. British rulers attached language with knowledge and propagated the idea that knowledge is possible only in their language.This was just another theory put forward by an imperialist nation to tighten its command on its colonies..The idea being that once the idea of British supremacy is established in the minds of people ,it will be possible to extend the British rule for ever. It is sad but true that even after our independence we followed, what the much hated Macaulay’s minute prescribed for us way back in 1835..It is always said that during British rule such was the policy of appointment and promotion in government services that very few native people could reach to higher posts.today's case is no different.if u have to be at the top you need to learn English.Regional languages will be of no use to you.The shortcut to success passes through the island of English.It is not just about getting jobs.even in the social hierarchy English speaking persons enjoy more respect and recognition. For the elites of the society indigenous art,language and culture has become a forgotten and forbidden territory. It was due to this policy of neglect of our language,our history,our culture that the indian state failed to reduce the inequality between the previlaged and underprevilaged.it was nothing but a cruel joke with millions of people to ask them to learn english and adopt a western way of life,to move up, in the ladder of prosperity.amid the rhetoric of welfare state the indian poor who lacked the resource to equip itself with modern day education, kept getting marginalized and overlooked.this callous neglect of masses for decades widened the chasm between the rich and the poor,the previlaged and undeprevilaged.the neo-liberal pursuit of indian state has only helped in widening this chasm further.At the one side of the chasm is a vibrant, prosperous,and simmering India,and on the other side lies the neglected India,langushing in abject poverty. For many it may look interesting that this year's two major creative pieces,which has shifted world's focus on India, deals with the phenomena of two India within an India.
6 March 2009
Slumdog Millionaire wins Golden Globe and then ascends all the way to conquer the Academy awards .Great news.Really??? Why not?The film is made in India.The story is based on India.An Indian reality show which was credited for unleashing unlimited hope among common Indians has been used as the tool of story telling.Its castes are Indian.The technical crew is largely from India. A R REHMAN is the music composer and the lyricist is none other than one and only GULZAR.So three cheers for Slumdog Millionaire.Hip hip hurrah........
just wait..........Please put on hold the cheering for a while..Can you recall the last occasion when We,the Indians celebrated a triumph which gave us that special pride of being an Indian .I know for many of you it may sound ridiculous and for someone it may even turn out to be disturbing.Was it India's successful foray into the select club of nations with the successful launch of India's moon mission -- CHANDRAYAAN-,or was it T-20 cricket world championship victory against arch rivals Pakistan.Or was it VISHWANATHAN ANAND going on to win world chess championship.hmmmmm...Perhaps ABHINAW BINDRA winning the first individual gold for the nation in Olympics...........not really...in fact many of us are least bothered,even ignorant about our space achievements,many of us still don,t know who ABHINAW BINDRA is ,in spite of various state governments putting up big hoardings of Abhinaw Bindra in state capitals and facilitating him for his maverick performance..,I guess for many of you it could be kalpana Chawla's space travel,or Sunita William's space journey,particularly with the news circulating around that she has taken with her an Indian dish -SAMOSA.Let me guess again....Was it the piece of news which informed that we have more billionaires and millionaires than Chaina.or perhaps the news that Mukesh Armani has become the wealthiest person on the globe in terms of market capitalization. Or perhaps the news that Indians are the largest professional community in America serving the multinational countries.Or was it the news that,we are the the telephone exchange of the world and most of the service offered by American MNCs are, in all its probability served from India with smile.Or was it the news ,that many in the team of first black president of America BARAC OBAMA are of Indian origin. Oh please, let some morbid thoughts come into my mind and let me guess again. Was it ,the TIMES OF India's proud headline which described this year's flood in KOSI, one of the most devastating floods ever witnessed by humankind as KATERINA OF INDIA. Or the Bombay terror strike being dubbed as India's 9/11.