Monday, January 9, 2012

Indian films and wealth

I read that Amitabh Bachchan disliked the movie Slumdog Millionaire because it suggested that all Indians live in poverty.  Really?  one movie about a few poor people and the environment of poverty in which they live?  and doesn't this exist in India?

Most Indian films portray people who are at least middle-class, if not rich.  If there are poor characters, they are stuck in the beginning of the film to show a character's humble beginnings, only for a short time; when the film flashes forward to the character's adulthood, he is then well-off, or at least working.

Most "masala" films, the colorful ones with the singing and dancing, don't involve poor people at all.  They don't appear in the proportion in which they appear in real life.  Before I started watching Indian film, I knew there were a lot of poor people in India, and that's not wrong.

I was actually somewhat shocked by the plot of Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham, where the wealthy father would like permit his son to marry a working-class girl from the town.  (It seemed to me at one point that she was also Muslim, but not later on...this was confusing.)  Even the middle-class people were considered inappropriate as friends or mates; the wealthy couple refused to attend the wedding of the daughter of their children's nanny (rather, the husband refused -- the wife wanted to go, but had to bow to her husband).  This really left a bad taste in my mouth.

I adore Amitabh Bachchan, but let's face it:  he's a very rich guy.  It seems he came from a well-off family.  He has rich-guy problems.  He loves the color and spirit of Mumbai, says so all the time...but Mumbai is also full of poor people, and I haven't heard him mention them.  Is this a blind spot?  does he do extensive charitable work I haven't heard about?  He did mention recently that his family continues to earn money from a big pharmaceutical company in which they are invested.  Does he just plain have too much money, and has he lost touch with the people who don't?

Like KG3, or KANK, Slumdog Millionaire deals with only a part of the population.  If it's a part Bachchan doesn't want to see or acknowledge, that's his problem, not the filmmaker's or the audience's.

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