Slumdog Millionaire: Brouhaha over Loveleen Tandan's Credits

Of late I have been receiving mails and online petitions demanding inclusion of Loveleen Tandan's name along with Danny Boyle's for Best Director's award in the Oscars 2009. Subsequently I searched the web for more info and came across an interview of Loveleen asking people not to raise this controversy as Danny is the actual director of the film. She is also reported to have mentioned something to the effect that she considers herself lucky to have got the credit as Co-Director (India).
The reason for her appeal (to put this issue to rest & not rake it up further) could be any & many but from all that one has read on the net (her own interviews, Boyle's interviews etc.), it seems that her primary contribution has been in :
1.Casting of slum kids + few other Indian Actors
2.Suggesting that 1/3rd of the dialogues be retained in Hindi
3.Writing/re-writing/translating some of the dialogues in Hindi.
4.Suggesting to Danny not to let communal mobs wear outfits displaying their communal leanings
5.Helping Danny Boyle get around the problem of communication in Hindi (specially with the slum kids who couldn't communicate in English). I guess she & the Assistant Director (?) Raj Acharya played a major role by acting as a via media between the foreign crew and the Indian cast & others.
Danny Boyle felt that the above services made her an indispensable (& rightly so) part of his team and conferred upon her the title of Co-Director (even though he may want to change his mind now given all the current brouhaha).
I would align myself with Loveleen's views in this matter that she has got credits way beyond what she expected herself and that Danny Boyle has been generous on this front. The reasons are not difficult to seek. While American & European film crews work in a highly compartmentalized manner with each person limiting their contribution to what they've been hired for, in India things are a bit flexible and allow for overlap. So we have people transcending the boundaries defined by their roles...actors give directorial inputs to directors & suggest dialogue modifications and music composers ask songwriters to tweak lines & vice-versa. People here do tend to help in as many possible ways to make things happen. I wonder if Loveleen's contribution (listed above )would have even beenacknowledged had Slumdog been a Bollywood production! Most probably it would have been taken for granted!!
Here it would also help to consider that the original idea for the film and its approach was Danny's (has to be) and Loveleen came in the picture once the basic story, treatment, script & dialogues were frozen (else how could it get backing of financers?). Loveleen was roped in once the film was on the execution table. Hence, her contribution (as mentioned above) certainly went beyond what she was supposed to do as a Casting Director but didn't really alter or re-shape the core of the film and its screenplay. Her vision may have been partly incorporated, but only Partly. A film by its very nature is like an orchestra which basically comprises singers, instrumentalists, acoustics etc. Even though what the audience appreciates is the overall feel, it's the singers who usually hog the limelight...not the guitarists, percussionists or the sound designers! And this is not to say that their role should be diminished, but unfortunately that is the way things are. How many of us bother to even find out the name of the lyricist when we like a song. We all praise the singer(s) and make him/her larger than life!
Also, Oscars or for that matter any other `western' awards are unlikely to recognise any talent that isn't `white'!! At least till films continue to be produced in Hollywood and other White dominated & English speaking capitals of the world. What else explains nomination of A.R. Rahman for the Best Music this year for Slumdog Millionaire? The fact is that Rahman has composed some outstanding tracks for Indian movies...far superior to the one for Slumdog. But had Slumdog not been made, no one was going to nominate him for any other film as that film itself would not have got nominated for mainstream Oscar awards.
I am confident that Loveleen is going to make a mind blowing movie of her own very soon (I know it because I've worked closely with her on some of my television productions). But sadly, her nationality and skin color would ensure that Oscars always remain a dream for her & others like her.
My only message to all is – Why make Oscars larger than life? Why give it so much importance?? I've seen many films which can beat Oscar winners hollow, but who cares??? So, YOU...stop caring for Oscars or for that matter any other award. If your film is liked by the audiences....go have a drink or two...CELEBRATE.

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