Sunday, March 01, 2009

Rushdie: Slumdog sucks

My friend Katie points me to an article about how, like me, Salman Rushdie also hates "Slumdog Millionaire," too.

Rushdie has a rather long Guardian piece about film adaptations in general, with a few shots at Slumdog embedded in it. Here's a good bit:
Boyle, when asked why he had chosen a project so different from his usual material, answered that he had never been to India and knew nothing about it, so he thought this project was a great opportunity. Listening to him, I imagined an Indian film director making a movie about New York low-life and saying that he had done so because he knew nothing about New York and had indeed never been there. He would have been torn limb from limb by critical opinion. But for a first world director to say that about the third world is considered praiseworthy, an indication of his artistic daring. The double standards of post-colonial attitudes have not yet wholly faded away.
Some of the "poverty porn" critiques of Slumdog that floated around on the web were a bit too PC, certainly, and my own main problem with the movie had everything to do with the storytelling and nothing to do with a white guy telling it. But there is something breathtaking about Boyle's attitude here and I think Rushdie puts his finger on it.

P.S. ... I would totally go see a film adaptation of Midnight's Children that Rushdie says he's starting work on. Hopefully this time it will actually happen.

P.P.S. ... I wonder what Rushdie will think about the Watchmen adaptation? He is a comics fan with an interest in film adaptations, somebody remember to ask him this in another few weeks...


Michael said...

Quite the strawman Rushdie has created for himself here. Would that really be the response Salman? I would be fairly interested in a film from an Indian director that took place in an American ghetto. That actually sounds exactly like the kind of outsider perspective that would actually make people pay attention.

It's especially disingenuous from Rushdie considering he himself befriended Akumal Ramachander after he discovered and championed the Expressionist paintings of New Yorker Harold Shapinsky. So Rushdie personally knows Indians that have made made the exact kind of cultural leap that he is claiming here to be impossible.

Also as I've already pointed out, the film was co-directed by an Indian woman, Loveleen Tandan. Guess she self-colonized?

I haven't seen Frost/Nixon yet, which I imagine is pretty good, but Slumdog Millionaire is, I'm fairly certain, the best film of last year.

Rob said...

I don't know, don't you think there is an expectation that NYC-underbelly stories come out of real experience? I can definitely imagine some sort of technicolor, idea-of-New-York movie made by an outsider who doesn't know the city. (In fact, for all I know this sort of movie already exists and is moving and fun to watch.)

But wouldn't that movie also be eligible for criticism by people who felt it was not an authentic portrayal? And didn't Slumdog sort of try to be both things, a gritty/realistic India as well as a technicolor fantasy?