I have a little piece on Slumdog Millionaire in the Indian Express here. Excerpt:
I knew things had turned a corner when garden-variety Anglo-suburban Americans started correcting my Marathi, which is to say when they started regarding my use of “Bombay” rather than “Mumbai” as denoting an embarrassing lack of sophistication on par with using a fork and spoon, instead of chopsticks, at a Chinese restaurant. Not that I speak a word of Marathi, at least not a word one would use in polite company. And not that these would-be sophisticates do, either, but I’ll bet dollars to dosas that it’s only a matter of time before American hipsters start eating khichdi with their fingers in trendy Indo-fusion bistros.
Slumdog Millionaire? In the US, it’s Slumdog Everywhere.
Two notes: 1. I loved the movie, thought it was beautiful; 2. It seems to me that there’s a tension in India between the pride Indians take in the success of their cultural exports and the reservations they feel about seeking vindication through success in the West. I personally like Amitabh Bachchan’s take on this: The old, hesitant India boycotted foreign goods, but the new, confident India buys out the companies that make them. (Impossible, by the way, to imagine a Hollywood star making this sort of patriotic appeal.) My guess is that the convergence of interests between the world’s two biggest democracies will be the great story of the next several decades — but it may be that, like Oscar voters, I’m just a sucker for a happy ending.