6 comments on “A Belated Happy Birthday to Arundhati Roy

  1. Thanks for posting this speech, Richard. Yes, very prophetic, and moving at the end. I shall come here again, for this kind of content. I came here via Bollywood Food Club’s blog. I liked what you said about Suketu Mehta’s New York Times article. And yet, I found his words really uplifting. I have never been to Mumbai, but I want to go, and still intend to do so despite everything. I shall now follow up both Arundhati Roy links, and Sukhetu Mehta. Thanks for the leads!

  2. First of all, many thanks for sharing this. It’s spot on, and the source is not at all surprising. I almost want to agree entirely, but I didn’t think the reference to the institutions that run the show acknowledges the need for a consistent benchmark for regulation of those organizations — aren’t the elected government and lawmakers tasked with the decision to enforce accountability?!

    I particularly liked the bit about what’s lost in all the talk of globalization (it’s been such a buzzword for almost a decade now) is the ‘disparity between the rich and the poor’ — very true of India (my Swades review had some on that).

    To peace and happiness!

  3. Joss, you are very welcome, and glad you ended up visiting this blog. I’d like to go to Mumbai too some time, though I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to. (Would I let an act of terrorism scare me a way from a city? That would be kind of silly considering where I am and have been.) For me, the biggest obstacle to the trip is being able to afford it. So, somehow, I imagine that if I ever can shell out for the plane fare and lodgings, I’m not going to be a big spender over there. But maybe there is a way for me to get there sometime, maybe some kind of work or something. We’ll see…

  4. Bollywood Fan, you’re welcome too. Re. your small disagreement, I think Arundhati Roy would be delighted to see such governments enforce accountability, regulate, etc., but is probably very skeptical about that being possible, considering that corporate-capitalist governments might not have the will or desire to do so. Some would say they don’t even have the power – that was a popular perspective on the left in the late ’90s and earlier in this decade, as I recall; i.e., that national-governmental power was becoming a thing of the past as the world financial institutions (and huge corporations and other inernational entities that controlled capital) were becoming completely globalized powers. But I think that idea has receded a little, especially after the resurgence of old-fashioned nationalism and imperialism. Still, institutions like the IMF and the U.S. government are very intertwined, just as are ruling financial and political people. Really, they’re part of the same thing, as far as I can see. Were we to get a federal government that actually rejected the old neoliberal guard, the people who pushed NAFTA, the WTO, etc., then I’d say maybe the government might try to make some changes. But (and not to revive the old debate over Obama here :) I don’t see that happening, and don’t even know if that’s possible. (Though I have a pretty strong opinion about all this. You know, I used to be an anti-globalization protester. I was too young in the ’60s, so what the hell, I guess I needed to know what it was like to get tear gassed at some point. :)

    There might be some big changes happening, though, not because of any immediate change in government, but because of this new recession or depression, the meltdown, and a big shifting of the political winds. Maybe social pressure will eventually effect big changes. But a lot of us are going to go through some pretty nasty times before that happens.

    But…don’t let me get too much off on a tangent. :)

    Re. Swades… Looks like you wrote quite a substantial review on that. I don’t know what I would think of the whole movie; I think I had a mixed reaction to a certain scene that I saw, though understanding that it was a quality production and good work by SRK… There was a conversation about that and Arundhati Roy sometime back on Bollywood Food Club. I think you were in that briefly. I said a few things about it – or the clip I saw, etc. – back then:


  5. Hi Richard,

    I found your criticism of Slumdog Milliionaire very apt. I was too thinking on the same lines though not so eloquently. The other thing I share with you is the passion for 40’s and 50’s Hindi films because of their socio-political perspective. I mean there is a veritable struggle for 80% of humanity to survive each day ( even as we speak about films innocent Gazans, Iraqis, Afghanis are being pounded by bombs) and there is no criticism of the system. I with my own experience of 20 and some years on this planet can say that system is at fault which can only be changed collectively. Instead what we see in the Indian media as whole is hedonistic celebration. Feel very anguished at what can be done and what is being done.

    So long

  6. Dushyant, thank you for the kind words, and for concurring with my observations about this film. (Normally, I’m not necessarily looking for people to agree with me, but sometimes when I feel so isolated in my opinion, it’s nice to see someone else saying the same thing. Although I have had some confirmation of this opiinion in person… One was from someone whom I’d known through old activist endeavors and alternative educational projects, also someone who understood this yearning for a collective response. He actually hated the film – though he did like M.I.A. :)

    For those who haven’t seen my criticism of Slumdog Millionaire, actually, it’s not on this blog… I decided not to devote a post to the matter, but instead I wrote a very long comment over at Beth Loves Bollywood, over here:


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