Monday, 23 February 2009

NARY AN ELEPHANT/SUMPTUOUS WASH OF FLOWERS/PERSIAN RUG DESIGN SCHEME IN SIGHT

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Slumdog Millionaire as a British triumph at the Oscars?

I'm not under the illusion that it's anything close to an echt depiction of Indianness, but surely the narrative derives much of its resonance and timeliness by embodying the notion of the third (ie developing, ie ascendant) world attaining to some kind of spectacular enfranchisement, at the same time as a half-Kenyan has become US president, and as all manner of afro sounds are pervading the airwaves?

Sentimental Dickensian fairytale though it is, SM is a remarkably un-orientalist, realistically-grounded piece (the definition of magic realism?) even down to the lack of an exoticising curry-house chic aesthetic in the marketing campaign (see White Teeth by way of contrast - even Aravind Ardiga's book had an element of this, I thought, as has just about every Asian/Anglo-Asian Booker winner of the last few decades, come to think of it - Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai - Life of Pi too)

Slumdog undoes a lot of its eloquence with the schmaltzfest in the final quarter, but ultimately it does feel like the song of a brave new world - Asia very nearly able to speak on its own terms, and only 'British' in an arbitrary personnel sense.

1 comment:

sf said...

hey there! have you read this: http://www.slate.com/id/2209783/

??

Not entirely sure how I feel about Slumdog, possibly somewhere between your view and his. All v. entertaining, regardless, though I was unable to stifle a laugh at the far too comical melodrama of the brother's sacrificial death.