Here is an article by Francois Gautier that he wrote for the French newspaper he works for. I took it from his blog, but it was badly translated from French and I had to do a bit of editing. Here goes:
Poverty and Cliches in Slumdog Millionaire
By François Gautier
The film “Slumdog Millionaire” conveys a terribly negative image of India – slums, exploitation, poverty, corruption, anti-Muslim pogroms. So why has it met with so much success in the West?
There are several answers:
1. When the missionaries began to evangelize India in the 19th century, they quickly realized that Hinduism was a religion that was not only practiced by its vast majority of people, but it was deeply ingrained in the minds of all Indians. The missionaries therefore coined a strategy to lessen the attachment of Indians to Hinduism. They decided to highlight and magnify by a hundred times all the “defects” of Hinduism — caste, poverty, child marriage, superstitions, widows, Sati and so on. Today, these stereotypes orchestrated by the missionaries persist and deeply influence the image Westerners have of India.
2. The Westerners continue to suffer from a superiority complex in relation to the people of the Third World in general and India in particular. Sitting in front of television with a bowl of popcorn, they like to feel sorry for the misery of others. It flatters their ego. That is why books such as the “City of Joy” by Dominique Lapierre (which gives the impression that the whole of India is a vast slum) or films such as the “Slumdog Millionaire,” have such an impact in the West even though they peddle half-lies.
3. In “Slumdog Millionaire,” all the enemies of India have joined hands. Today, billions of dollars that gullible parishioners in the West give to charity are used to convert the poorest of the poor in India. Once converted, these people are taught to hate their culture and their religion, thus creating an imbalance in the Indian psyche. India is ruthlessly hounded by Islamic fundamentalism too, as demonstrated by the recent Mumbai killings. Indian communists are in power in three states of India. They have made alliances with the Christian Adventists (and other radical Protestant sects) and fundamentalist Muslims against the Hindus. And finally, the over-Americanization of Indian society has begun to seriously harm the social and cultural capital of India. “Slumdog” draws upon all these negative scenarios in a misleading way.
4. Closer to France, my home, there are many researchers from CNRS and its affiliates such as EHESS who study South Asia. They have often been the vehicle for projecting an image of India in the West as a land of caste, poverty and “Hindu fundamentalism.” Hindus as fundamentalists? Can there be a more glaring contradiction? Hinduism has shown throughout its history a remarkable tolerance to the Christians of Syria, the merchants of Arabia, the Parsees of Zoroaster and the Jews of Jerusalem. All of them were persecuted at home but were welcomed in India and allowed to practice their religion freely. At the beginning of the “Slumdog,” Jamal’s mother has her throat cut by Hindu fanatics. But in the real world, it is actually the Muslims who slaughtered Daniel Pearl alive and broadcast the film on the Internet. The Hindus do not do these kind of ghastly things. Riots in India are always initiated by the Muslims. The riots in Gujarat were triggered because 59 Hindus, including 36 women and children, were burned as dogs in a train by a mob of Muslims.
5. And finally, it is true that the Indians, because they have been colonized for so long (unlike the Chinese), do not have a lot of national pride. They are sometimes even proud of being criticized. Today, much of the intellectual elite of India has lost touch with its cultural roots as well as spiritual treasures. These people only look to the West to solve their problems, ignoring their own civilizational roots which are ancient and possess infinite wisdom.
Throughout history, it is seen that the colonized people become an even more rabid hater of their own culture and religion than the colonisers themselves. How else can one explain the mentality of Indians who are praising “Slumdog Millionaire”? The movie literally defecates on India non-stop from its very first frame (in which a child plunges into a sea of shit to get an autograph of Amitabh Bacchan).
Some scenes in the film, however, have their origin in the perverted imagination of its director Danny Boyle. These do not exist in the book by Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat, upon whose work the film is loosely based.
The hero of the Swarup’s book is not a Muslim. He is multi-religious. His name is Ram Mohammad Thomas. He did not spend his childhood in Bombay but in a Catholic orphanage in Delhi. Jamal’s mother in the book is not killed by “Hindu fanatics.” Instead, she abandons her baby in a church. Jamal’s torture is not there in the book. The episode where three children are abandoned in the rain is also not there in Swarup’s work. Jamal and his heroine live in an apartment, not in a slum. So for what purpose have these scenes been added to the movie?
Yes, there still exists poverty in India and a large gap between the rich and the poor. But those who have some knowledge about the slums of Bombay very well know that most of the slum inhabitants actually belong to the “middle class” (relative to income levels in India). Every house in the slums has a TV and most of their residents work in the city.
Will the Westerners ever be able to look at India in a way that is more honest, fair and free of religious and racial prejudices? They may, but for this to happen, a new generation of people has to rise in the Western countries which is sincere and less tied to the outdated values and attitudes of the colonial era.
Slumdog is an acidic cocktail of White Man’s racism and pagan hatred of Christians.
As people of the True Lord (who can therefore do no wrong), it is the duty of pall bearers of Christianity — the Whites — to mock the rest of humanity as inferior because it worships false gods. And if some societies worship false gods, there is nothing good that can ever happen to them, isn’t it? Hence the creation of “Slumdog” showing pagans swimming in a sea of shit. Whites have clearly not forgiven Indians for rejecting thier Lawd Gawd. This is their retribution.
The Whites practise an illusion of superiority over others merely because they worship a mythical corpse that came alive after three days and took off like a rocket into the sky. And if you do not accept this fairy tale, they will kill you when they can and rest of the time they will try to mock you to death.
“Slumdog” is such a mocking handed over to the pagans. Want to be in their good books? Accept the Lawd Gawd. Otherwise, they will come to your homes not as guests but as gutter inspectors and project it as your reality to the world. They are claiming that pagans are deseased. They are offering the medicine (Lawd Gawd), but in their view the pagans are too stupid to realise what is good for them. These people are actually just practising medieval tribalism. Don’t be fooled by thier six-course dinners and expensive colognes. Their world-view and philosophy are no better than of a Mullah in an Afghan cave.
Everybody in White societies — reporters, critics, politicians, professors — is a willing participant in the illusion of their superiority over pagans because of the Lawd Gawd factor. They work as a team and no one rats on the other, lest the whole charade collapses. People who do point out that the emperor has no clothes — like Fracois Gautier — are treated as abnormal clowns who are threatening the collective delusion being practised on a mass scale by the Whites.
The White’s interaction with pagans is always in two stages:
1. First they project that the pagans are diseased, nothing can ever be right with them, they are primitive and barbaric people.
2. Then they offer the medicine (True Lord) and send doctors (or spin doctors) also known as the missionaries to pagans with the right medicine (accept Lawd Gawd). With this medicine, the pagans will be instantly cured and become gentlemen. They will presumably stop swimming in shit.
Danny Boyle’s movie is the first stage where the Whites have again claimed that the pagans are diseased. They are already sending “doctors” to India to offer us their medicine.
It is not a coincidence that Danny Boyle comes from a family of missionaries.