‘Slumdog’ puts focus on all things Indian: USA Today

March 5th, 2009 - 1:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Slumdog MillionaireWashington, March 5 (IANS) The success of India-based Oscar winner “Slumdog Millionaire” has magnified India’s profile and accelerated the mingling of American and South Asian cultures, a leading US daily says.

“Who knows? Just as salsa came to rival ketchup as America’s top-selling relish with the diffusion of Latino culture, maybe ‘Slumdog’ is a sign more Americans will be consuming even spicier fare,” says Maria Puente in an article in USA Today.

“Now you can find Indian food even in mainstream grocery stores,” jokes Vin Bhat, the American-born co-founder of Saavn, a New York-based company that, as the largest digital distributor of Bollywood movies, music, videos and ringtones, is benefiting from the success of “Slumdog”.

“We’re seeing a tremendous impact,” Bhat was quoted as saying. “We’re already seeing record downloads on iTunes and other major carriers; we’re seeing a lot of people purchasing tracks and albums by (’Slumdog’ composer/musician) A.R. Rahman.”

In fact, the soundtrack is top album on iTunes and vaulted 26 spots to No. 22 on the Billboard chart in the days after the Oscars.

“People are buying ‘Slumdog’ - it’s an access point for people to explore other movie and musical content from India,” which is easier to do nowadays, thanks to the Internet, Bhat said.

The India-is-cool trend has waxed and waned for decades. “It goes back to The Beatles, Ravi Shankar, the Maharishi - look at how yoga is mainstream now,” USA Today cited frequent visitor Dan Storper, founder and CEO of Putamayo World Music.

His company expects its first, just-released all-Indian music CD, “India”, and coffee-table book, “India: A Cultural Journey”, to be bestsellers in part thanks to “Slumdog”.

“There has been a curiosity about the region for a long time, but it always takes one big thing to take it to another level,” Storper says. “The stage is now set.”

Hollywood might be more willing to gamble on Indian-themed movies and other East-West collaborations now that “Slumdog” has established audience interest, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the Indian-born American novelist and author of “The Mistress of Spices” and just-published “The Palace of Illusions”, was quoted as saying.

“We’re kind of on the cusp, and ‘Slumdog’ might tip us over,” she says. “Fiction touches the imagination, and the impact lives on long after the facts of non-fiction have faded.”

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