Slumdog Millionaire: An Outsider’s Perspective

It was interesting to see how Slumdog Millionaire, a British-made film, compared to the Bollywood films that we have been watching in class. Slumdog showed its viewers an alternative side to India, focusing on how poverty and class can affect one’s actions, perception, and treatment. While other Bollywood films, such as The Gangs of Wasseypur and Namak Halaal, have commented on class, Slumdog provides a deeper look into what poverty in India can look like and the challenges that those in poverty can face.

Having this outsider’s view of India has both its strengths and weaknesses. As we have seen in a couple of the Bollywood films that we have watched, mainstream media coming out of India is less likely to be self-critical, be more nationalist in nature, and often promotes stories that focus on well-off characters. An outsider’s perspective on some of India’s national issues, such as class, can provide a more critical social commentary that Bollywood films are less likely to make. On the other side of that, this outsider’s perspective brings the film’s accuracy into question. While Slumdog did seem to respect India’s culture, it is difficult to determine if the film’s representation was an accurate depiction of poverty and culture in India. Another possible weakness is how this film could shape other countries’ perspectives of India. As I saw in another post, it is important to keep in mind that this film may be the only exposure that some “Westerners” have to Indian culture.

Overall, I enjoyed this film. It was engaging and intriguing, to say the least. I think one of the most important things to keep in mind while watching a film like Slumdog is the fact that it is a work of realistic fiction based on a country that the producers are not from. While it may strive to represent and give voice to a group that is often not thought about, there are bound to be mistakes and weaknesses when trying to create an understanding of the class system and culture of a country that is not your own.

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