I hate Slumdog Millionaire.
I don't hate it for artistic or aesthetic reasons. I hate it out of principle - because it is an act of third world emotional blackmail for anyone who's seen it for real - meant to repel and disgust. And it turns me off, pushes me into denial and just turns me into someone numb about reality. Freeze over my emotions when I saw the child being blinded with red hot irons. Maybe there are those who seek numbness over pain.
I've had one too many conversations with people from elsewhere about this movie. In response to their curiousity about whether this is how India is, I can only answer "Some parts of it, yes". It's almost like they want to believe what they see and won't settle for an India where people go to work at 8 and drive autorickshaws everyday.
To draw an analogy, when you think of Paris, the image that pops into your head immediately is the lit skyline with the Eiffel Tower. But imagine a quintessential paree movie of your preference and throw in all the moroccan ghettos which have sprung up around. That stark, depressing but real face of the city wouldn't be something I'd enjoy.
Art is about selecting what to represent and what is irrelevant. And the movie makers made a choice, that was completely theirs to make. Now that I think about it, what I'm hating is not the movie. It's the condescension that the movie invites on my bit of the world. Not because it's dishonest or that I'm patriotic, but the intentions behind it are suspect. It's pandering to the needs of someone filled with Schadenfreude.
What I'm hating is the tourist who says "I want to go see a slum".--
Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.
-- John Keats