Friday, January 16, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - Gross!!!

Slumdog Millionaire is a first India based movie (not Indian) which has won Four Golden Globe Awards and is a strong contender for the Academy Awards. Here comes a British Director (Danny Boyle), portrays life of Mumbai slums and gets laurels for it. The obvious question that comes in the minds of Indians is: What does this movie have that has made it win Golden Globes and kept it in a race for Oscars? Considering the poor records of our movies in the academy Awards.

Is it realistic? No. The movie might portray slum life but the plot can hardly be called “real”. Here is a “Slumdog” who speaks accented English and wins 20 million rupees in a game show, just by sheer luck. Does that sound real?

Is it entertaining? Hardly. Seeing Shit holes, gruesome abuse, poverty, dirt of slums and many more stereotypes about India that westerners have can not be entertaining for Indians at least.

Is the acting extra ordinary? No. Apart from the veterans like Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan, the new actors are amateurs.

Is the music outstanding? Hardly. Rehman is undoubtedly a musical genius and he deserves every prestigious award on the planet, but he has done much better job in hindi and regional movies. Slumdog Millionaire does not have an extra ordinary soundtrack, if we compare it with Rehman’s previous work.

Then what is it that has helped this mediocre flick win so many laurels? It’s the crass portrayal of the Ugly side of India. Whatever scientific and developmental progress India makes, westerners want to and would like to believe that India is a piece of Garbage and this movie quite literally depicts that mindset. Every country, however developed is, has a dark side. But, when it comes to India, west want to see the “real India” which they think is filthy, poor, and ugly.

Movies that show our creativity, music, culture, scientific and technological progress never interest them. But show them shitty slums, filthy lanes and poor people, they’ll be more than happy to watch it. Poor India and poorer western mindset!!!

The movie plot portrays the journey of a Slum boy Jamaal Malik (Dev Patel, with British Accent) from being a “Slumdog” to the millionaire, by winning a television game show. Each question asked in a show seems to be related to gruesome experiences of the boy’s childhood. Boy manages to answer almost all the questions and is on the verge of winning the show. But then the show host (Anil Kapoor) gets him arrested because he believes that a “Slumdog” can not know the answers and should not win the fortune. (Does that make sense? This is the biggest loophole of this immensely flawed script) Anyways, the boy gets out of the jail, after a considerable torture by police, thanks to the change of heart of the policeman. (Irfan Khan). He then answers the last question and wins the show, despite Anil Kapoor’s reluctance.

And guess why the boy participated in the Game show? To find his childhood sweetheart and not for the money. He thought she must be watching the show. Now that seems ridiculous, but is so much like hindi movie love stories. Nothing “real” about it!!!

The only positive aspect of the movie is well edited script which makes the story fast paced. Please don’t waste your precious money for this movie. Watch it on a borrowed CD or DVD.



Anonymous said...
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Himanshu Saraf said...

First of all, congratulations on writing such a good blog, I like your style of writing. You seem to follow the tips you give others on writing.

I like this post on Slumdog Millionaire as well but I won't agree with many of the observations. Let's take it from the top:

1. Jamal speaking English - Personally I would have liked the entire movie to be recorded in Hindi for authenticity but you have to give it to the director. A movie made by foreigners primarily for an international audience would be too difficult to sell if it's in Hindi. And he used Hindi till the kids were in the slums. It was only after they grew up that they started talking English, which is believable to me. His accent comes from working in the call center where everyone around him speaks deliberately in the English accent.

2. I don't think it was meant to entertain. It was supposed to provoke thoughts and sensitize you, which it did.

3. Acting: I think the young kids were great. The grown ups looked a bit artificial primarily because they were talking in English.

4. Music: I agree that many of Rehman's other works are significantly better than this but the Oscar is a reflection of the global reach of this movie compared to the others he composed music for. After all, Oscars are a popularity contest.

5. I don't think the movie has become popular because of portraying the dark side of India. There are many more movies like that, not all make it to the Oscars. In my personal experience Americans and Europeans are much more interested in seeing the bright side of India - the cultural diversity, the elaborate weddings, the colourful festivals and the like but how many well made international movies with good storylines can you name that depict such things? So, claiming that an ugly filthy India is what westerners want to see is shortsighted and suffers from selection bias.

6. Anil Kapoor doesn't want the guy to win because he was the only one till now who had won that prize and was of course taking it personally. He didn't want a slum dweller to become his equal - a simple matter of ego.

7. Lakita did tell Jamal that she likes the show and watches it all the time. So, with no other means to reach out to her, this was a desperate attempt on part of Jamal to find her (rather let her find him) - nothing unreal about it. Ambitious but not unreal.

A well written post but lacks objectivity. Enjoyed reading it anyways :-)