'The Avengers' Indian Slum Scenes Draw Criticism

The Avengers Hindi song
Walt Disney Company India/UTV Motion Pictures

While the superhero film has opened well in India, members of the Indian film industry and others have expressed dismay about its slum scenes depicting Kolkata.

NEW DELHI - The opening scenes of The Avengers - showing Hulk's alter ego Dr. Bruce Banner in hiding in Kolkata's slums helping cure lepers - has faced some criticism in India.

“Kolkata has a rich culture and heritage, and a filmmaker should respect that. There are two scenes about India, and they only show slums," well-known Kolkata-based actor Rituparna Sengupta told the Hindustan Times. "It could have been done in better taste." The newspaper ran a story headlined, “Hulk's Slum Act Miffs Fans.”

“It is disturbing to see the murky underbelly of India in Hollywood films," added Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia. "But before pointing it out to the West, we need to make efforts to change their perception about us.”

The Indian slum scenes – recreated in New Mexico - have also attracted criticism from movie-goers quoted in the newspaper. “There is no reason to be happy about the Indian connection (in The Avengers). It has become a trend in the West to show Indian slums and a Westerner trying to help the poor here,” said a software professional, Nitin Bhatia.  “When will Hollywood stop cashing in on the poverty here?” added a bank employee, Rishabh Bal.

While The Avengers has opened well to mostly positive reviews, leading newsmagazine Outlook pointed to a minor casting issue in its review of the film. “Never mind that the ragged Indian child shown in the Kolkata slums spoke to Bruce Banner in Hindi with a thick American accent,” it wrote.

As previously reported, The Avengers' Hindi dubbed version includes a specially recorded song, “Hello Andheron” (Hello Darkness), by Indian band Agnee.