'Slumdog Millionaire' a sign of things to come?

The international success of Danny Boyle’s film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, which has already won Golden Globes and Oscar nominations, has some people wondering if Hollywood will see more future releases set in India.

Slumdog Millionaire is a rags-to-riches success story of a young Indian boy who wins a quiz and elevates himself in society, a theme that is not particularly new. Just as the trend of martial arts was a milestone of Hollywood films, some feel that the success of this movie may set the ball rolling for several Indian-themed releases in the future.

“India, with its own diverse culture, will provide a myriad number of stories which are just waiting to be told,” says film critic Zia Ud Salam.

Could this be an opportunity for India’s own Bollywood film industry? It may have the advantage of an already developed infrastructure, but, according to some, catching the imagination of the world may not be easy for its directors.

“This same story cannot be directed by an Indian film director, because he doesn’t have that kind of perspective. A foreigner from a different country has shown India in such a… I don’t think it is a bad way, but it is a real way,”
said Vipul Kalia, a student and self-professed film buff.

Even though the film is doing well internationally, many Indians feel the producers of such films should keep the sensitivities of local people in mind when using a setting.

“A street dog becomes a millionaire – this is insulting. Slumdog is an insulting name and basically this name should not have been used,” said one critic.

“I don’t think that they have portrayed India in a very good way because India is not all about slums. And the name itself is a little offensive and people have objected to this name – Slumdog,” voiced another critic.

Even though it is fiction, many in India are finding it difficult to associate the modern day country with the image portrayed in the movie and fear people who have never visited India could get a skewed image of it.

Although Indians themselves have a negative view of the film, the fact remains that the rest of the world has lauded it for what it has depicted. If its success inspires other filmmakers then we may just see a lot more of India in Hollywood.