A few days ago, after weeks of avoiding it, I finally watched Slumdog Millionaire.
The reason I’d put it off for as long as I had wasn’t because as a journalist from India currently in the Bay Area, I felt the pressure of giving a long, insightful critique of the film to my non-Indian colleagues. Nor because of the controversy and debates that would inevitably require me to pick a side and try to explain away the complexities of India, which clearly can’t be explained away.
It was simply because having endured some awful movies about India in the past, I didn’t want to watch yet another foreigner’s misrepresentation of something he didn’t understand.
Part of the appeal of this award-winning Oscar-nominated movie, I knew, was in its “exotic” setting. I’m from India – it’s not exotic to me. Part of it is in the intimate look at a foreign culture. I grew up in Delhi – it’s not foreign. A lot has to do with the uniqueness of this rags-to-riches story. I’m a journalist – it’s not unique.
But when an Indian friend wrote to me and said, “It’s just like any other Bollywood movie,” I sat up and took notice.
Could the Brits actually pull a Bollywood?