India’s poverty in Oscar spotlightFebruary 20th, 2009 - 2:41 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) “Slumdog Millionaire”, “The Final Inch”, “Smile Pinki”… in a first, three India themed films up for the Oscars, and all three dealing with poverty and disease!
India’s poverty is under the global spotlight as never before with the blockbuster “Slumdog Millionaire”, tracing the rags to riches story of a slum boy, and the two documentaries, “The Final Inch” focusing on the country’s battle with polio and “Smile Pinki” about a young child who can’t get a cleft lip surgery because she is too poor.
The Oscars will be announced Sunday night (Monday morning in India).
According to a government survey, about 65 million Indians live in slums and out of them about 42 million live in city slums.
British filmmaker Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” highlights the pain and misery of this section. He set his story in Mumbai’s teeming slums in Nehru Nagar and nearby Dharavi, which is home to more than a million people and is the largest slum in Asia.
Based on Indian diplomat Vikas swarup’s novel “Q & A”, “Slumdog Millionaire” is about an impoverished teaboy who wins a multimillion rupee quiz show. The director has, however, woven hope and romance in his otherwise grim narrative.
The film was lauded in the West and grossed more than $100 million. It bagged seven British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards and four Golden Globes.
But Boyle’s film has been criticised by some in India for showing only the ugly side of the country and concentrating on its grinding poverty.
Another film with an Indian theme in the Oscar nomination list is American filmmaker Megan Mylan’s short documentary “Smile Pinki”.
The documentary is the heartwarming tale of a poor village girl called Pinki whose cleft lip made her a social outcast, till her life changed after a meeting with a social worker.
Unlike “Slumdog Millionaire”, Mylan’s work didn’t bag headlines but there is a similarity between the two films - they are both about hope and end on a happy note.
Mylan says the happy ending inspired her to show Pinki’s story.
“As a filmmaker who focuses on social issue documentaries, it is rare that I get into a film knowing we’re likely to have a happy ending. So, I was excited to tell the story of this beautiful hospital and a team of doctors and social workers treating their patients with such compassion and quality care and making a positive impact,” says Mylan.
This is the fourth documentary Mylan has produced - her first with an Indian theme, and her maiden Academy Award nomination has followed.
Another Oscar nominee, “The Final Inch” by American documentary makers Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant, is based in India too. It is about health workers travelling throughout Uttar Pradesh, urging parents to vaccinate their children against polio.
“The documentary revolves around the fact that in spite of a good polio campaign, which has really worked, we still haven’t been able to eradicate polio. The areas targeted in the film are Meerut and the whole of Uttar Pradesh,” said Mohammad Gulzar Saifihe, a polio-affected man who features in the documentary.
This is not the first time that India’s impoverished section is being highlighted at the Oscars.
Veteran Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Academy Award, was criticised by Nargis for “selling Indian poverty abroad to win awards”.
Ray’s masterpieces include the “Apu” trilogy, “Ashani Sanket”, “Jana Aranya”, “Mahanagar” and “Pratidwandi”.
- 'Peepli Live' - will it make it to Oscars? - Dec 13, 2010
- Indian poverty under Oscar scanner again - Feb 03, 2010
- Rahman creates history as 'Slumdog' turns top dog at Oscars (Lead) - Feb 23, 2009
- Slumdog Millionaire, wins the Best Movie at Oscars 2009 - Feb 23, 2009
- 'Smile Pinki' all set to be screened across India - Oct 02, 2009
- Reality more fascinating than fiction: 'Smile Pinki' director - Nov 08, 2009
- 'Smile Pinki' returns to help children with cleft lips - Sep 26, 2009
- Doordarshan to showcase 'Smile Pinki' on Sunday - Nov 10, 2009
- PM congratulates 'Slumdog Millionaire' and 'Smile Pinki' teams (Lead) - Feb 23, 2009
- Indian slum kids' fairytale experience at Oscars - Feb 23, 2009
- The Oscars India will watch closely - Feb 22, 2009
- Rahman hopes 'DAM 999' brings back Oscar - Dec 21, 2011
- I did role for my country, says hero of Oscar-nominated documentary - Feb 20, 2009
- India shines at Oscars with multiple awards (Afternoon Lead) - Feb 23, 2009
- Gursharan Kaur hosts a reception for smiling ''Pinky'' - Feb 27, 2009
Tags: american filmmaker, british filmmaker, city slums, cleft lip surgery, danny boyle, dharavi, global spotlight, golden globes, government survey, indian diplomat, mylan, nehru nagar, oscar nomination list, pain and misery, pinki, rags to riches, rags to riches story, social outcast, teaboy, village girl