It’s Slumdog Millionaire’s Summer of Cool !

With film makers in India regretting they did not pick up Vikas Swaroop’s Q&A ( on which Slumdog Millionaire is based), guess which is the next book getting all the hype ? Its Suchitra’s “Summer of Cool. There is a little bidding war going on for it… I should know, everyone is calling me to see if I can help them get the rights ..
‘Summer’ is exactly what it says it is. It is ‘cool’, with the the colors of summer – yellow and orange -with the warmth of the characters who’s hearts almost glow pink !
” A tall glass of lime juice on a warm summer’s day” The Hindu critic called it aptly. And this is just the first of series. This summer is going to be pretty cool for book lovers.. and yes, the book has it’s dark side, but then so does Harry Potter –

31 thoughts on “It’s Slumdog Millionaire’s Summer of Cool !

  1. you are a really sweet guy Shekhar, so much mud slinging happened in the press regarding you two… but you still drop in a nice word about your ex-wife’s work, indeed nice of you… wish I had a man like you in my life…..

  2. Shekhar,
    ‘Slumdog Millionare’ – the name of an award winning western movie set in India. The name of an award winning western book ‘Inspite of the Gods – The strange rise of modern India’.
    What does that tell you ?
    This is what ‘Slumdog Millionare’ tells me :
    The movie seems to have appreciated little of these ground realities – instead we find a rehash of the old and improbable rags to riches story in an ultra-regressive style. A magnificent Mumbai slum, two Muslim brothers, a Hindu mob killing innocent Muslim women, criminally amputated children singing Surdas”s songs, Hindu policemen torturing an innocent Muslim boy and a diabolic Hindu game-show host who hands his Muslim contestant to his Hindu police which hates the Amnesty international, and voila, you have all the ingredients for a “secular” potboiler which is on the road to the Oscars! You might argue that it”s not realistic but only fantasy since there is greater probability of winning the jackpot on a lottery ticket without being abused by the police than winning the top prize on a quiz show with 15 unique questions.
    But then you can be kidding with the graphic depiction of blood curdling anti Muslim riot in which a Hindu mob slits the children”s mother, the Indian policeman electrocuting the Muslim suspect or the gory scene of the amputation of the street children by the mafia who are then forced to sing Surdas”s bhajans. The book by Vikas Swarup has the main protagonist named as Ram Mohammad Thomas who was conveniently transformed into a Muslim boy, Jamal Malik who lost his mother to a Hindu mob to make it sound in the author”s own confession more “politically correct.”
    More disturbingly, you have the depiction of the blue bodied Rama whom Hindus consider as Maryada Puroshottam [the best among men] threatening to terminate the existence of the innocent Muslim children. To a question on with which weapons is Lord Rama depicted with in popular iconography, Jamal Malik the protagonist does not remember the grand Ram Lilas which happen across the country or Ram Kathas on televisions. Instead, a Hindu kid dressed like immaculately like Lord Rama stand in the mid of a slum in a threatening pose. And one cannot miss the hatred being portrayed in the face and looks of that young Hindu kid, younger than even Jamaal. Even a 5 year old Hindu kid is a communal bigot and Rama is responsible for all the communal crap. Muslims are seculars and victims by definition. And we need one white director to tell these things to the whole world. Not only this we have forcibly amputated children singing Surdas”s bhajan pining for a glimpse of illusory Krishna? This insensitive jaundiced anti Hindu view is reminiscent of Indian leftist cinema where Hindu male characters are black and Muslims white!
    Girja Kumar in his “Book on Trial” has reproduced dozens of cases where Hindu books critical of Islam or the Prophet were banned, and the authors faced arrest or were killed. Salman Rushdie”s flight and Taslima Nasrin”s plight is well known. Lajja almost faced a ban because she had exposed the genocide against Hindus in Bangladesh. Movies on the state of Kashmiri pundits, victims of Islamic genocide against Hindus of Bangladeshis, the Hindu victims of the North East against Christian separatism and also the historical crimes by the armies of Islam and inquisitory Christianity are taboo in a “secular country” They cannot see the light of the day because they are inimical to communal harmony and hurt minority sentiments !

  3. I dont think that it’s the story which matter. Eventually everything boils down to screenplay and direction.

  4. Rudra, in Hindi we have an old saying which goes like ‘sawaan ke andhe to sab hara dikhayi deta hai’.
    I saw the same film but did not see all that you did!

  5. Ritu,
    You dont seem to have read through what i wrote properly.
    As you say , I see more than you do so obviously , I see more clearly. You can use whatever little intelligence you used to quote an out-of-context proverb and if possible see the light.
    I can help you.

  6. Chill dude Rudra 🙂 You are reading way too much and looks like you are trying to find something or the other which will offend your sentiment in the movie. It has nothing to do with ‘hindu/muslim’ divide or putting down Hindus.

  7. Rudra,
    I completely agree and share similar views. Britishers will never leave their divide and rule policy. I was eager to watch this movie because of its hype and all the Golden Globe awards and watched this movie few days back here in CA.
    It pained me as India has been shown as a land of grim poverty, under developed, third world, Corrupt, Criminal, fighting on religion, low nation. Frankly speaking, there was nothing positive about India shown in this movie. Some scenes were absolutely unnecessary, tasteless and meant to make a filthy humor of India. It would have been better if a more balanced image would have been projected.
    Movies make an indelible impression on the minds of people, especially, who do not know much about our nation and take these movies as the true face of nation. Therefore, care should be taken to portray a balanced image of the nation, keeping in track the story guidelines.
    I think this story is overall made in fantasy. Jamal, in this story won by destiny. Let me remind that sheer luck and directors wish, to make this underdog boy a millionaire, does not give hope to poor people. Hope comes with education, getting the right opportunity and working towards it.
    People who work hard, in any field, even the road side vendors, rise to higher levels and have made their lives better. We should be blessed that our Gov. gives opportunity of free education to all barring, caste or religion, not like our neighboring country, where minorities i.e. Hindus do not even have voting rights, I guess if any movie has been made on that major issue till date.

  8. The thread on SM wouldn’t have been complete without what Rudra has written.
    Rudra is known for his third eye and anger.
    Especially the point that by changing Vikaas Swaroop’s given name of the protagonist from Ram Mohamad Thomas to Jamaal Malik the spirit of the film has totally been altered from that of the book.
    And Ritu please don’t mind but I read your post#7 again and again and felt as if consciously or sub-consciously you were criticising yourself not Rudra.
    Shilpi other than the communal point Rudra has raised you have a point about the general flavour of how India has been shown in this film. I agree with you about that. I wrote something similar on the original thread on SM.
    Shekhar It definitely is going to be a ‘Summer of cool’ with Barrak Hussien Obama and Micheal Obama as the first couple of America.
    Russia lending moral support to Hamas was an interesting news in recent past.
    Another interesting recent news was Narendra Modi wanting to build a Buddhist temple in Gujrat.(For guys who are surprised just google)
    I always wondered why Rudyard Kipling said “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.” But does that have to be so, even in the 21st Century,even in the 3rd Millenium.

  9. @ Hari : Self-criticism is actually a useful virtue to possess, though that was not the intention in my original statement :).
    All I am trying to say is that the sub-text that we see in a work of art is often influenced by our own mental/emotional make-up, our prejudices and our biases. Most of the time the director has not even dreamt of half the sub-text people detect in his work.
    Alfred Hitchcock’s grand-daughter mentioned this phenomenon in an interview. She was taking a film-appreciation course where the instructor would critically analyse Hitchcock’s works and when she would go back to her grand-father he would comment to the effect – ‘They are reading too much into it’.
    Which is why I evoked the ‘Sawaan ke andhe’ phrase with Rudra. He is wearing the communal lens and that is probably why he sees a communal motive in every small thing in the film. A lot of those things are just small details that happen to be that way without any design.
    And Rudra, I don’t know why but I am actually very flattered by your ‘what-ever little intelligence’ insinuation. I shudder to think how it would be if I acquired your brand of intelligence. Hum buddhu hi theek hain :).

  10. Well, I am very, very happy that Indian creative types are finding broader world markets. That is important and extremely significant. A sea change. Says a lot about inclusiveness in a new world order.

  11. While I blogged about my shame – for that is what I felt when I watched the movie, I must add to that here: My pride at its progress, its freedoms and its emotional depth – which no single work of art or commerce can capture. We Indians are such a bundle of contrasts, each one of us. We over-react and are emotional enough to riot regularly, but are stoical and fatalistic enough not to create a revolution. We see anger and humour in the same frustrating situation. We are able to be blind to suffering and yet have the empathy to live in the spirit of service. Be on the defensive about our desi – ness and yet be arrogant about being Indian! I love being Indian.

  12. Ritu,
    Its the insidious nature of the depiction.
    Propaganda has been a hallmark of a part of western film making.
    Ultimately a global blockbuster is a film which affects or impresses upon the collective psyche of the masses.The ambience or the mood created in a film about a certain thing or situation does stick with the collective consciousness.
    As PM Manmohan Singh once said “Empires of the future will be empires of the mind”.I might add “and wars of the future will be wars of words and ideas” And “So would it go for loves”.
    Had an India made this film he would have kept in mind the fact that Vikas Swaroop had named the protagonist Ram Mohamad Thomas to say very loudly that he is a poor common Indian irrespective of his religon.
    Lets not underestimate the politics of a certain kind of Filmmaking.

  13. aanteladda ,
    The parodoxes you mention about Indianness are very true – and should worry us, not make us seek glory in those paradoxes !
    Why do you think this confusion of intellect and heart exists in Indians – especially in the English educated veriety? Why so much confusion of identity ?
    This confusion of Identity is what prevents Indianness integrating itself into its true self. At the moment we are broken and differentiated into many ‘percieved’ Identities – which prevent us from reacting clearly to a clear insult.
    It is a definite sign of McAulean Bastardism that has permeated Indian intellect that the educated -especially the English educated India ,cannot see what is clearly the writing on the wall.

  14. i just saw slumdog millionaire and i must say i like the film even though i wanted to hate it. what intrigues me the most is that why is it that the western award jury always buy the western outlook on indian poverty and values. iam sure it wouldnt have made it to the oscars if it was made by an indian filmaker . not that iam against creative expression but i think the fact that it was a small british film made by danny boyle made it easier to earn the award ticket. i wonder would it have worked if an indian would have been to been behind the camera lens. is it that we cant sell our viewpoint or the western viewpoint is better??? all iam saying is the fact that danny sold the idea better than anyone indian would have. we will have to see what ensues next.

  15. This has been a really interesting read…all of the comments here…I have not been able to see this film yet as it is not showing on my island but with so much buzz about it and Deepak Chopra’s kids have really been rooting for it on the Intent community…I’ve been wanting to see it and learn more about it…the views here have been able to show me a more complete view on this…interesting…

  16. Are the intolerants Hindus on the forum complaining about the bad depiction of Hinduism in the movie ?? What a surprise :))

  17. Neeta,
    Are you intolerant if you protest when you are raped ? or when your child is abused ? or even if , when your mother is maligned/insulted ?
    I would be surprised , if you did not :))

  18. Great people….
    Dear all, who are fighting on SM or I should say religion. I want to know how many of you have read your holy books?? Gita, Ramayana, Bible, Quran, Guru Granth Sahib…..? In which part have you read about the hatred?
    All of them teach about Humanity not about hating other religion or a human being.
    Earlier Britishers used religion/caste to get the hold on Indian soil and now it has been used by the politicians to make their vote bank.
    If you don’t respect humanity then you don’t deserve to be neither a Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or Christian or Jain or Buddhist or follower of any other religion.
    One more thing, Rudra had a problem when a Hindu policeman beat the Muslim boy Jamal. Why you never wrote about Amitabh(Vijay) beaten by Pran(a pathan) in Zanjeer?? Why you never had problem when Hritik acted as Akbar?
    Stop fighting on religion and do something productive instead of breaking the nation on religion. Make your identity as “Indian” not Hindu/Muslim/Sikh/Jain/Christian……

  19. Mudra,
    ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is not a documentary film, in case you failed to notice, it is a work of fiction.
    The artist in question,Danny Bole, merely exercised his right to creative expression in realizing his vision through Anthony Dod Mantle’s camera. It would be unfair to measure his visual conceptions by using the original novel as a yardstick. Writing a novel and directing a film are two different art forms.
    A movie-buff wouldn’t care too much if the director veered off-course from the original script, for as long as there is aesthetic value to the film, visual brilliance, and Slumdog, sure as hell, is full of it!
    Stanley Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Odyssey begins with a 23min montage, no words are exchanged.
    Godfrey Reggio’s Naqoyqatsi is just a symphony of visuals and music, no words needed, as the visuals is the narrative.
    So, if a cynical reader tries to dissect the political correctness of a medium like ‘Cinema’, I wonder about the ‘political correctness’ of the argument =)

  20. Wow – a lot of angst against what is a great movie – in the vein of religious rancour. A question for all ye hand wringers – how many hindi movies have you seen where Christians and Muslims have been portrayed in a less than positive light ? [my guess is you’ve lost count]

  21. Now a days people are making hype of the small things and making the heap of problems by protesting instead of sharing the happiest moment.
    I thought that why we are feeling so much humiliated after watching the truth of the slums in “Slumdog Millionare” ? The reason behind this is that Indian Directors are thinking that How one foreigner can make so nice movie locating all the scene in India ,and we are shooting our movie in Australia ,Switzerland and newzealand like we have the crisis of the good location.Why they can’t?
    I think Government should start patenting the social problems of India such as Slums, Poverty ,Rape ,Pollution and Untouchability which can be a very good source of our economy .How it is so? Whenever any foreign Directors come to shoot any movie in India ,then Indian Government will demand much money for that and this way it will fill the pocket of our so called “well-wisher” Poltician.
    This will make the way for our Indian directors that People will entertain by watching their film instead of Danny boyle. Our so called “Intellectual” filmstar are criticizing someone whoever even tried his best to pose the reality of the slums infront of 1.2 billion people .
    I believe that while watching this many people who dont know what is slum? how people live in slum?, how they live on ?,and what they do for their livelihood ?, they can still make a figurative image in their mind about slum.
    Parvez Alam
    9953333736 ,Delhi

  22. Dear Shekhar & Himanshu(6),
    Its people,people,people from the script writer to the editor (and even the distributor).Then ultimately the final product in the theatres where its fate is sealed, with the fate of the team for the upcoming ventures.
    I think Direction at the highest level is all about collecting the right ensemble of people and then letting them just be(both in front of the camera and behind it).The film was always within them and the director justs lets them let it come out(Almost like a doctor does for a pregnant woman…making her comfortable when she comes in for labor…ensuring her that she’s in safe hands…then when the final moment arrives letting her take some deep breaths and give the final pushes from the diaphram…she knows…its her baby).
    While the director just sees that one oneself is a self-disciplined professional regarding timing etc. and a good listener if someone wants to approach him/her for any advice/chat.And also sees that one is in no way pulled into the imaginary chrismatic awe a star personality/celebrity has built for his/her profession.

  23. Hey everyone. I’m hoping to meet new friends here so drop me a note when you
    get a chance.
    I hope to make some quality posts soon but first I have to look around the forum and
    familiarize myself with everyone and the forum.
    Bye for now. lol
    Biggest Loser of All Time

  24. can you tell me what has happened to all the children who played in slumdog./Have they been given decent housing and education. I dearly want to watch this film but am to worried by why may have happened to them. With all the money made surely ther would been enough money to make a town for all those living in such desperate conditions. I would appreciate an honset reply please.

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