The Diary: Indian slummer; is Obama Othello?; Bhaji on the moors; dance is out there; rhyming couples

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The Independent Culture

Indian slummer

Bafta judges might be waxing lyrical over Danny Boyle's story of an Indian slum-kid who wins millions on a TV show in Mumbai but there appears to be a 'Slumdog Millionaire' backlash afoot, with a Facebook page on whether the director draws on stereotypical visions of subcontinental impoverishment. Columnists Alice Miles and Nirpal Dhaliwal, and the Bollywood icon, Amitabh Bachchan, have thrown in their twopence-worth of criticism. But the film's writer, Simon Beaufoy, offers a robust defence. He told me he spent weeks walking the streets of the city, talking to ordinary working people. "I spoke to people in chai stores, and heard their stories. I vehemently disagree that it's poverty porn. I have been stopped in the street by Mumbai citizens who told me we had captured the city abolutely right."

Is Obama Othello?

The Royal Shakespeare Company is hosting a rather unsettling panel discussion (on 31 January) comparing Barack Obama to Othello. OK, both men are black, but one is a troubled Moor who murders his wife, while the other seems to have nothing worse than a gym addiction. In one early scene in the play, there's "a subliminal racism... that draws attention to the fact that these two men are in power in a sea of white faces," the RSC says.

Bhaji on the moors

Purists may splutter, but the Brontë Society has given its approval to a "Bollywood"-style production of Emily Brontë's 'Wuthering Heights' according to its creator and ex-'East-Ender' Deepak Verma. The show, to be staged by the theatre company Tamasha from April, is "relevant to the British Asian experience", says Verma, who adds: "The Brontë Society are looking forward to the production. It's a Victorian novel, but the same values still exist in Indian culture."

Dance is out there

Alistair Spalding, the chief executive of Sadler's Wells, is planning to stage a dance show in a disused tenement block next year. He also wants to put up a giant screen – "As big as a building" – in Trafalgar Square to show images of "slow dancing" (in which the likes of William Forsythe and Wendy Whelan of the NYC Ballet are filmed moving almost imperceptibly). This "outreach" work is part of his plan to take dance presentations out to unlikely places. "It's about taking 'recession risks'," he says.

Rhyming couples

Luke Wright, the "stand-up poet" who composes impromptu verse for Radio 4's "Saturday Live", has put his lyrics to a series of seven "real love stories" to be broadcast by Channel Four on Valentine's day. The film, called 'Seven Ages of Love', includes a woman talking about her husband's dementia, former couples suffering heartache, and 90-year-old newly-weds. "It's about couples who watch 'The Bill' together every week, or others who always have tea together. I think that's beautiful," he explains.

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