I hear these words so often ‘you are so negative, skeptical and critical’, little do they understand that I wish to get the best out of life in the true sense. So when I posited to my friend on what I felt about Slumdog Millionaire (SDM) yesterday, her response was “ahhhh!! loser here you go again” and she shut me off at her cochlea level, not allowing my speech sounds to reach her auditory cortex. When I realized that I was pressurizing the air speaking, the heaviness around weighed me down and constrained me into silence, a very uncomfortable one at that. I doubt she will even pick my call, after all who would like to spend time with a ‘loser’?
I loathe traveling, I keep physical movement to the minimal level, can’t stand the pollution and the traffic. I know the ‘happy hours’ of travel and zip from one place to another. Road rage? Oh yes I indulge in it big time. I avoid the regular expletives, I use some really bad ones in Bengali that no one understands or I use John McEnroe phrases – imbecile, brut then I have some choice ones for special occasions – Cheeri Naayay (slumdog) or Mara Naayay (Tree dog)…. I avoid F’s & B’s since they are highly ineffective on the road, and more fun in regular conversations to highlight fonts in conversation.
The manner in which the brain processes speech to employ a meaning to it fascinates me. A word is a composition of speech sounds; the brain processes the frequency, intensity and the duration of the sound as a formation and while processing it draws heavily from our episodic and semantic memories to tag a meaning to that sound.
How why did Slumdog make it to the top of charts in popular culture? I was forced to think on this since I have wired myself to reject the hyperboles of the media, while such mindless rejection may lead to missing out the underpinnings of overall social behavior, I have taken it upon me to dig deep ( not deep enough) and to understand the possible reason on why SDH came up tops. I will not be assessing the performance of the performers; I am only looking at the word “slumdog” – period.
The portmanteau status of the term ‘slumdog’ is so powerful that it can bring to the forefront two images to the mind - that of a slum (depends on the slums you have been exposed to) and a neutral dog (learnt in LKG). Then quickly the mind can transfer the despicability of the slums on the neutral picture of the dog and give the dog a status of canine ilk of the lowest form with rashes and rabies. And when this insult is addressed to an individual this base imagery gets extrapolated on the target provoking him to come up with something more insulting to depreciate the opponents image lower than that of his newly acquired image in order to feel better about himself. While this transaction persists, the word acquires fresh meaning at every point getting baser by the day and hitting a point of no return that it automatically co joins with another word close enough to emerge with a new stature. Cut.
Now look at the bleak economic scenario triggered by the selfish banking czars floating on golden parachutes who gave themselves bonuses from the bail out packages. These millionaires, who were once eulogized, hit the slush image when millions went jobless and literally got pushed to slum dwellings. The word millionaire, at the other end of the word spectrum, had hit the highest point and with nowhere to go further had no choice but to hit ground level (slum level).
Slumdog Millionaire captured it all. The Oscar recognition to SDH is more than a mere recognition of entertainment values, the recognition for the role reversal of two diametrically opposite terminologies and for bringing them together to conjure different imagery to a whole cross section of population. To a man on the slum, he can be happy about the hope of becoming a millionaire; to a millionaire he can be constantly cherishing their achievement of populating the slums with hyper capitalist beliefs. The dogs can a feel proud of the bridge status it has acquired (what even Marx failed to achieve). Together the three have interacted so beautifully and millionaires have become multi millionaires. And the ones outside these categories celebrate this interaction as viewers probably making millionaires out of pirates.
With no offence meant, I am forced to compare the ones in the middle station with the dog, becoming the all important bridge betwixt two classes. What they say, do, speak, write, think and express will be crucial. Do I love Slumdog Millionaire? Let my friend decide, if she is reading this.