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Amitabh vs. Slumdog

01.15.2009

Amid myriad critical acclaim, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has apparently made some disparaging comments about the Danny Boyle movie SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE via his blog:

"If 'Slumdog Millionaire' projects India as Third World dirty underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations"

He knocks out a couple more pearls that you can check out over HERE. However, to be fair to Bachchan, I can't find the actual blog and some of the comments on the article indicate that his comments were taken out of context. It's interesting I think, that even such a beautiful movie can't make everyone happy. The important thing to acknowledge though is that I wasn't asked to do a list of my favorite movies for the year for the site and since SLUMDOG was one of them this gives me ample excuse to throw one out now. I know you guys have been waiting for this!

UPDATE! HERE is Amitabh's blog. Check it out and make up your own mind.
Extra Tidbit: 1. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, 2. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, 3. THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD, 4. BEN BUTTON, 5. WALL-E, 6. TDK
Source: Cinematical

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11:58PM on 01/15/2009
Given what was said, I think this is a case of quotes being taken out of context. People are just trying to cause controversy to get noticed.
Given what was said, I think this is a case of quotes being taken out of context. People are just trying to cause controversy to get noticed.
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9:21PM on 01/15/2009

Extra Extra Tidbits

No point really, just food for thought:
Amitabh made a major comeback in his own personal career early on in this decade by becoming the host of the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (Kaun Banega Crorepati). He is also supposed to star with Depp in Shantaram - based on a book that has a good portion of it set in the slums. The same book that had the author giving a personal tour to Madonna and Guy of the Mumbai slums.
No point really, just food for thought:
Amitabh made a major comeback in his own personal career early on in this decade by becoming the host of the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (Kaun Banega Crorepati). He is also supposed to star with Depp in Shantaram - based on a book that has a good portion of it set in the slums. The same book that had the author giving a personal tour to Madonna and Guy of the Mumbai slums.
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8:35PM on 01/15/2009

Leloup...

Leloup.. that is a very valid point. I just wish movies could be less divisive when it comes to things about how a country or it's people are perceived. I'd like to think the film makers intentions aren't bad (I'm obviously not including Rambo where Stallone was trying to show how bad Burma is).
Leloup.. that is a very valid point. I just wish movies could be less divisive when it comes to things about how a country or it's people are perceived. I'd like to think the film makers intentions aren't bad (I'm obviously not including Rambo where Stallone was trying to show how bad Burma is).
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7:00PM on 01/15/2009

ZeroSum0101:

I understand your point, but if you think about an average guy that never cares to see what actual India looks like and only sees american films portraying it as if it were "oh god the horror", guess what that person would think.
For example, I'm from South America, Argentina, and I remember reading an Spider-Man comic in which the villain was hiding "somewhere in Argentina" and the drawing showed you a jungle-like place. I know it's not a jungle cuz I live here, but what about an average
I understand your point, but if you think about an average guy that never cares to see what actual India looks like and only sees american films portraying it as if it were "oh god the horror", guess what that person would think.
For example, I'm from South America, Argentina, and I remember reading an Spider-Man comic in which the villain was hiding "somewhere in Argentina" and the drawing showed you a jungle-like place. I know it's not a jungle cuz I live here, but what about an average non-argentinian teenager?

no hurt-feelings with Spidey, though
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6:19PM on 01/15/2009
I was hoping Amitabh Bachchan was a girl so I could say what I wanted to say, but sadly, I cannot
I was hoping Amitabh Bachchan was a girl so I could say what I wanted to say, but sadly, I cannot
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5:34PM on 01/15/2009

Missing The Point

What goes through your mind when someone mentions Africa? Most people will think of HIV and AIDS, destitute poverty, unemployment, extreme violence and children with distended bellies with flies buzzing around their faces. Is there truth to this? Absolutely. What it isnít though is the entire truth. Africa is so much more than what the popular image we all have in our heads. The question is how much we know beyond what we see in popular media.

Nowhere in his comments does Mr. Bachchan
What goes through your mind when someone mentions Africa? Most people will think of HIV and AIDS, destitute poverty, unemployment, extreme violence and children with distended bellies with flies buzzing around their faces. Is there truth to this? Absolutely. What it isnít though is the entire truth. Africa is so much more than what the popular image we all have in our heads. The question is how much we know beyond what we see in popular media.

Nowhere in his comments does Mr. Bachchan deny the depictions in Slumdog Millionaire, he only reiterates the simple fact that there is a lot more to India than just the poverty and slums. It's not about misrepresentation; itís about the representation of a singular popular image. And that's what this whole thing boils down to. That's what Amitabh Bachchan is hinting at.

Slightly off topic....

There is some literal truth to his comments about the biases which exist for western filmmakers and eastern filmmakers. Still, I don't completely agree with Mr. Bachchan on this. I think, maybe naively so, that if a genuinely talented and sincere filmmaker comes along and the end result is a great film, the film will get its deserved recognition.

If Indian films want to have a truly global appeal, they need to understand their core values while making inroads into universal ones. Highly melodramatic, stylized song and dance numbers, love stories are all well and good, but they cater to a selective audience. If people in the Indian Film Industry want a broader audience and global recognition, that unique transformation needs to take place.

Back on topic...

This is a perfect example of things being taken out of context and being warped into something completely different. Rather than just reporting on all the facts and maybe researching a little more about the subject. All this is conveniently presented as something negative. In other words, going along with whatever the next person is saying. Welcome to the world of selective quoting and cut and paste reporting. This article has two links:

ē First one leads to The Economic Times article which is itself taking quotes out of context. And I'm guessing that's what was used as source material for this article.

ē Second link was an update to the article which leads to Amitabh Bachchan's blog. Where this entire thing sprung from in the first place. Credit to where credit's due, at least James Thoo gave a follow up.

Then again, how many people will bother reading Mr. Bachchan's blog to find out what he was trying to get at. Why, well, it's a lot of reading. "Who wants to read that much shit when I can get my news in 3 paragraphs!?" It's this retrofitting of news thatís getting to be all too common these days. It's a disturbing trend. This is a small example of how important it is to report news as is, responsibly, without all the necessary window dressing. I couldn't agree more with Roger Ebert in his "The birds of prey are circling."


Link: [link]
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4:55PM on 01/15/2009
They should have come to you first Thoo, you're my favorite writer on Joblo. I don't think Slumdog was the best of the year, but I like the list overall. Haven't seen 2 or 3 though.

As for Amitabh, his comments were reasonable, and he didn't lash out at the movie unreasonably. His comments were ok.
They should have come to you first Thoo, you're my favorite writer on Joblo. I don't think Slumdog was the best of the year, but I like the list overall. Haven't seen 2 or 3 though.

As for Amitabh, his comments were reasonable, and he didn't lash out at the movie unreasonably. His comments were ok.
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4:20PM on 01/15/2009
Whoa Whoa Whoa Whoa....where did you find a screening of The Good, The Bad, and the Weird?? Luuuucckyyy
Whoa Whoa Whoa Whoa....where did you find a screening of The Good, The Bad, and the Weird?? Luuuucckyyy
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3:47PM on 01/15/2009
Given what was said, I think this is a case of quotes being taken out of context. People are just trying to cause controversy to get noticed.
Given what was said, I think this is a case of quotes being taken out of context. People are just trying to cause controversy to get noticed.
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2:53PM on 01/15/2009

HA

i didnt read the blog yet. but this guy dresses like a f*cking ass clown. haha
i didnt read the blog yet. but this guy dresses like a f*cking ass clown. haha
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2:06PM on 01/15/2009

Again With the Misrepresentation of ....

This has to stop. I'm not just picking on this one person because honestly I'm not really sure what this person's intention are. But the "his misrepresents my country and people" mantra is REALLY starting to piss me off. Why is it when an American movie is made with American actors who do horrible things to one another no one screams how "that's now how Americans are"? Whenever a white American is a villain no one seems to give a crap, but when it's someone of a certain ethnic background BAM!
This has to stop. I'm not just picking on this one person because honestly I'm not really sure what this person's intention are. But the "his misrepresents my country and people" mantra is REALLY starting to piss me off. Why is it when an American movie is made with American actors who do horrible things to one another no one screams how "that's now how Americans are"? Whenever a white American is a villain no one seems to give a crap, but when it's someone of a certain ethnic background BAM! people are pissed off. When will people learn it's a FICTIONAL FILM. No one has claimed this to be a documentary ... BECAUSE IT'S NOT. It's about people going through some pretty horrible shit to hopefully have a nice happy end result. What happens in between doesn't ever say "THIS IS INDIA.. OH GOD THE HORROR". People take shit way too personally whenever they think their country has been misrepresented in a film. What annoys me the most is how they think the people who made the film and the people who watch them don't know that what they are seeing on screen isn't a representation of a country as a whole. How many people honestly walk away from Slumdog Millionaire thinking ... "wow India sucks look at the horror of these people's lives"? Or.. think about the characters how what they've been through and where they wound up? Sorry for the LONG rant I'm just so sick of this stuff every time a movie comes out now.

Oh by the way.. now I guess I shouldn't see the movie Taken. Seeing as how that means that any decent looking white girl who travels to Paris will be kidnapped and sold into white slavery. Dammit the movie looked good too.
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1:53PM on 01/15/2009
I really don't think he's dissing the movie. He's just talking about how the film, like other films, misrepresents India.
I really don't think he's dissing the movie. He's just talking about how the film, like other films, misrepresents India.
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12:16PM on 01/15/2009
Thoo, that's a fine Top Five. A little surprised you stuck TDK at #5, but then that's what I love about this site. No matter what film you guys pimp out the most, deep down you're classy guys. No disrespect to the Batman movie though.

Now if only "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" came out this side of the pond (or did it?).
Thoo, that's a fine Top Five. A little surprised you stuck TDK at #5, but then that's what I love about this site. No matter what film you guys pimp out the most, deep down you're classy guys. No disrespect to the Batman movie though.

Now if only "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" came out this side of the pond (or did it?).
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12:00PM on 01/15/2009

Hmmm

I've heard this man speak many times and I've read a fair bit about him as well. Along with being an acclaimed actor he's an intellectual, given his track record, I don't see him making comments like this. The link given points to an article that itself is selectively quoting. I suspect that given the entire context these comments wouldn't carry the implied negativity. I won't crucify the man on account of dodgy reporting. I'll wait for the entire interview to be posted before passing any
I've heard this man speak many times and I've read a fair bit about him as well. Along with being an acclaimed actor he's an intellectual, given his track record, I don't see him making comments like this. The link given points to an article that itself is selectively quoting. I suspect that given the entire context these comments wouldn't carry the implied negativity. I won't crucify the man on account of dodgy reporting. I'll wait for the entire interview to be posted before passing any judgment.

That said, he does raise a few interesting points. If anyone here has ever spent a significant amount of time traveling around or in India. You might come to understand what he's talking about. Filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray portrayed a sincere reality, a different kind of reality, of day to day India. Whereas the modern culture of media tends to focus it's lens on the very graphic. Thus, a more commercially viable media. Nothing wrong with that, but I can understand why some might find it annoying after a while.
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11:50AM on 01/15/2009

..Maybe he should do a little more film research

Amitabh really should do some better research as their are plenty of films that take place in america that show the poor or less fortunate sides of the U.S. society, past and present. This guy is just completely and utterly off base with this claim
Amitabh really should do some better research as their are plenty of films that take place in america that show the poor or less fortunate sides of the U.S. society, past and present. This guy is just completely and utterly off base with this claim
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11:41AM on 01/15/2009

HE'S IN THE FILM!

Amitabh Bachchan is the huge star that Jamal wants to get an autograph from and he goes through a lot of shit to get it. What kind of movie would Slumdog Millionaire be without the slums? Just "Millionaire." I doubt the film would have as much universal appeal because, yes, most nations have an underbelly and people realized that. If Amitabh Bachchan doesn't like it he should make his own version of the film. Even Satyajit Ray got criticized for making Indians look like poor people to the
Amitabh Bachchan is the huge star that Jamal wants to get an autograph from and he goes through a lot of shit to get it. What kind of movie would Slumdog Millionaire be without the slums? Just "Millionaire." I doubt the film would have as much universal appeal because, yes, most nations have an underbelly and people realized that. If Amitabh Bachchan doesn't like it he should make his own version of the film. Even Satyajit Ray got criticized for making Indians look like poor people to the rest of the world.
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10:43AM on 01/15/2009

BLEH....

Amitabh is a critically aclaimed actor and all that but the guy has a reputation of poking at Hollywood and the West altogether. His work is fantastic to say the least and the guy's got class, but for some reason he has this beef with Hollywood and their projection of things, especially India.

To be fair, a lot of documentaries and films do focus on the underbelly of Asian, African, and most developing nations for some reason, but I think Slumdog's purpose was to project such a lifestyle in
Amitabh is a critically aclaimed actor and all that but the guy has a reputation of poking at Hollywood and the West altogether. His work is fantastic to say the least and the guy's got class, but for some reason he has this beef with Hollywood and their projection of things, especially India.

To be fair, a lot of documentaries and films do focus on the underbelly of Asian, African, and most developing nations for some reason, but I think Slumdog's purpose was to project such a lifestyle in the first place. They didn't wrongly project India, they just projected the part that they wanted and that really does exist there. It's a beautoful country, yes, but Slumdog's portrayal of the underbelly of it isn't wrong in any way. Get what I'm saying?
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