Slumdog Millionaire Review— This Slum Dog is for the Foreigners!

mrinkenti55:21pm, screen 1 at Prasadz multiplex, the show is about to begin in 9 minutes and I can’t wait to hear the music. Honestly, I didn’t care much for the film, but I wanted to hear the music from the guy whom I’ve adored since a child as he goes to the Oscars to see if his nominations turn in to awards. 4 Golden Globes, 10 Oscar nominations, Indian setting with mainstream Bollywood stars like Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan…my expectations were sky high. Typically, award winning films don’t go down well with mainstream audience, like me, but Slumdog Millionaire is not that (bad) kind of awards-film; it wants to entertain. Yes, Slumdong Millionaire does deliver, but, personally, I feel the film appeals more to the foreign tourists who are fascinated by the unbelievable contrasts that India offers.

slumdogmillionaireposter1The story is about Jamal and his elder bossy brother Salim–from their childhood to adulthood. They live in the slums of Bombay and their hard events in life from getting an autograph of Amitabh Bachchan, losing their mother in Hindu-Muslim riots to the exploitative begging mafia teaches them some lessons. As a matter of sheer co-incidence, destiny, or luck when Jamal goes to participate in Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, the questions he gets asked have answers in his life’s events. He goes to win the show and the girl he loved unconditionally at the end. The story is simple, but it is the narration that captivates you (at least in the beginning). The film begins with grown-up young Jamal in jail being beaten to own up about how he knows all the answers as Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor) suspects he is cheating on his show and gets him arrested. Eventually, the inspector (Irfan Khan) gets convinced with his life-story and how he knew the answers and lets him to go answer the last question. This is not intellectual material here; just plain simple story with good narration that kinda gets stale in the second half as it is the same narration throughout the film—the game and the flashbacks in to Jamal’s life. The second half too is a little uninteresting as nothing new or elevating is shown. Nope, there are no twists here or surprise ending.

The first few scenes showing the slums and police chasing the slum kids with A R Rahman’s background music is nice. The first half offers several scenes that will be off great amusement for foreign tourists: the slums, the dhobi ghats, the fake tourist guides at Taj Mahal, the dirt, the shit, the filth, cramped schools, begging mafia, prostitution centers, trains and how the poor travel in them, the plight of slum kids, the work the slum kids do to earn a few pennies to eat a little and so on. The director has captured the condition of urban slums and the hand-to-mouth living that the masses of India do. It is realistic cinema in this matter because mainstream Bollywood is today focused only on foreign locales and beautiful studio sets. Yes, I agree, all Indians know that the majority of the country lives in poverty and we need not see it on screen every week; we are better off seeing the beautiful sets and locales. If you have to live in India, the rich and the poor must become insensitive to their surroundings. This is a fact of India.

The highlight scene: the community toilets in the urban slum which boasts of open top and open bottom with the shit depositing on the ground. The kid Jamal is shown shitting from top with the yellow ground (read shit) below (my wife closed her eyes and caught my hand unable to take this filth no more!). When Jamal’s door is locked, and Amitabh Bachchan gets off the helicopter, Jamal jumps down into the pool of shit, and runs with shit all over his body to get his star’s autograph. The film has a few of such interesting/amusing sequences, but other than that there is no message or nothing though provoking about the film. However, the idea of making a kid from the slums show up the game show and win a million is great!

As Prem Kumar the game show host, Anil Kapoor is good (looks old and jaded though) and so is Irfan Khan as the Inspector. Even Jamal is just ordinary. Come to think of it, the grown up Jamal doesn’t even look like a guy from the hard-life. The junior artists, the kids who constitute a majority of the film deliver a knock out performance. The love story track doesn’t make any sense and is not well developed so we can’t call this a love story either. The music is really good and for the international audience it is new and exciting. But we’ve heard this Rahman sound before, and you’ve heard even better background from ARR. The music didn’t blow my mind away. Jai Ho comes towards the end as the credits are rolling. The coexistence of filth and wealth in India as always fascinated foreigners and now with slum kids in the center stage the film must have caught the fancy of foreign critics. I honestly don’t know how the film got such critical acclaim. Perhaps, just like Jamal, the film too must just be lucky or it must be written (read destined) to get some awards. Towards the end, I was not as excited as I was before the film began.

Mr. Inkenti’s Movienomics Verdict: One Thumb Up. Interesting narration, but frankly there is nothing to go ga-ga over this film. You can surely watch it once if are curious to see what the whole critical acclaim is for or not for.

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13 Comments »

  1. dearbloke said

    yes this i agree,but i think a.r.rahman has done a good job.but for indians it will be like deja vu of TRAFFIC SIGNAL a movie about slum people living on platform,which was a bore-headache-irritating-movie.but i think the movie which is adapted original novel ,shud be worthy of screen play writing.its a tough story to be aimed at Western audiences,to appeal them should be done by best directorial powers and screen play writing.But the word “Slumdog” is so disgusting adjective to any indian,so calling an Indian as a some dog ,i cant digest ,not only me any indian would never want to be called a dog.Residents in the slum area that was refered to in the movie have protested against the movie ,for calling them dogs,and i support them as a citizen of Indian.

  2. Joylynford said

    this movie is a great experience in term of knowing the hard and fast rule of growing big, acquiring fame, sacrifice, and finally the success that follows.

  3. gj said

    This wasnt a movie , it had me in gripping anxiety, seeing those innocent children braving riots, seeing their mother beaten to death, consumed by hunger pangs and with nowhere to go.The police ? who are they ? and how can they help.

    then come the child traffickers ,, reminded me of the characters Sikes Fagin in Oliver Twist .
    if this is life for the vast multitudes that live in poverty and deprivation, what right do we have to complain of any discomfort . As long as the circumstance of our birth has provided us with a roof over head , three square meals a day and a family to belong to, we are spared the necessity of becoming a cheat or a social parasite..

    next time i see the beggars at the street corner , i will not get irritated and pontificate that they should go and work. its too tall an order and too complicated.

    next time i buy from a hawker i will not haggle over the price.. he is only trying to earn a living legitimately,, instead of becoming a thief or a criminal.

    next time i will donate liberally to any organisation that takes care of the underpriveleged.

    the film leaves you gasping , is there no saving grace to all this misery..?
    yes , it is the christian missionaries who alone give succour to orphans and destitutes … and you all know how they are treated with suspicion..
    no i am a hindu , not a christian.

    this is not a movie to view critically and analyse ..its an appeal on behalf of the have-nots to the sensibilities of the haves. thank u Danny Boyle

  4. Great movie!!!

  5. jagan said

    Good review by Mr. Inkenti, but I don’t why he is unnecessary critical of the movie. However, I liked Inkenti’s mention that the kid Jamal did a great job, i am not sure if I read that in other reviews; the faces of Jamal, Salim, and the third musketeer will remain with the audience for a long time. It is an incredible movie portraying the vast disparities that co-exist in India’s cities. High time society wakes up and does something. The movie is a wake up call.

    British director once again like director of Gandhi reminded us about ourselves. I liked gj’s comment better than Inkenti’s review. I wish Bollywood makes some more such gripping movies rather than the terrible trash they dish out week after week. If you only Shah Rukh and Akshay and their likes had more sense they would force directors to make more meaningful and intelligent movies that are thought provoking like Slumdog Millionaire.

  6. Nice movie!

  7. Inders said

    You think ‘foriegners’ will be ‘amused’ by depictions of poor people?

    These are the same foreigners that spend billions of dollars in giving to the poor all around the world.

    Why is this film such a good film?

    Its not the story. Its not the slums.

    Its the young actors. Its the great western realistic cinematography of a fantastic city.

    Bollywood films come to film dance scenes in Switzerland. IF they had any sense they would get back to making films about real people and shoot them without silly colour touchups IN India.

  8. HEMANT said

    SLUM DOG MILLIONARE.. A BIG SHIT..SHIT..SHIT

    WHATS WRONG WITH WE INDIANS, HOW CAN U APPRECIATE SUCH A FILTH
    ITS Peculiar BRITISH ATTITUDE TOWARDS INDIANS, wonder when they are going to come out of this illusion and understand that INDIA is much much more than slums. I feel they are satifying themselves by picturising wrongly about India by just showing 10% of india as the major.
    I bet if you show the shit in your body for two hours, make a movie out of it, dosent mean the whole of the body is made of shit, thats what the movie is like, the director has (called a slum dweller a slumdog) only covered the slums , child abuse, prostitution in 75% of the movie, even the tajmahal when shown, is picturised from such an angle which covers the dirt more, than the view of tajmahal. The studio where the competition is going on also is shown as a two room studio with a cooridor heading straght to the road. I pity the director for his sadism, But the most surprising is OSCAR, i am now getting a feeling that indian shit is so liked by oscarians that i think if i film a Indian person shiting for 2 hrs i stand a good chance of wining an oscar, so that means Indian shit is pretty valuable.
    This surely is not a real picture of India, and was nothing true, i havent seen any couple doing a french kiss on a station platform in mumbai. Its more of a documentary film.
    I also wish the Prime Minister of India sees the film.
    If you are a real Indian your blood will boil. I suggest don’t watch the movie in a theater and help their revenue, and FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO MAXIMUM YOU CAN, i think that’s what we can do right now.
    Hemant, Hyderabad, INDIA

  9. gj said

    dear hemant

    SM has swept the hearts of all those sensitive to suffering , across the world . dont know why some indians see it as exposure of our underside.
    how does it matter if Danny Boyle is British. His spellbinding exploration of Love , Hope, and determination,- told through the intriguingly simple device of a boy on a gameshow and set against the backdrop of the cold and pitiless reality of urban India is a most deserving winner. ( editorial of HIndu)
    Mind you it was pitted against formidable competitors at the oscars. The victory of SM at the Oscars is the victory of many real life Salims Jamals and latikas ,,
    have you ever seen such feverish interest in the fate of a movie at the Oscars … truly it has sparked human kindness and empathy to suffering, cutting across all barriers.
    i dont understand why Mr Amitabh Batcchan has to be so grudging in his comments about the movie . anyway his views dont matter , im only disappointed that a man of his stature has shown such smallness of mind at this historic moment for cinema

    gj

  10. Inders said

    Hemant, I feel bad for you. You’re obiously upset, and you’re right to be. Its completely wrong that people on the other side of the world recognize and want to help the people of India who are poor while middle class Indians walk past them in the street and deny theres any problem.

    http://www.wrmea.com/archives/August_2006/0608036.html

    A quarter of Indians live beneath the poverty line. You act like they don’t exist.

    People don’t give a ‘SHIT’ about middle class Indians, and why should they ? They don’t have a problem and they are unwilling to solve their fellow countrymens problems.

  11. mirza khan said

    That was a great movie! I always wanted to see the real India. how many percent of Indian masses enjoy at the 5 star hotels? probably less then 1% , Mumbai has the largest slum areas in the world. and I am just amazed at how well the movie story telling was and how much the movie was interesting.. i was glued to the screen… and was everyone .. no wonder the movie was a big hit. I wish to do something for our slums and make a change..

  12. usha said

    An excellent film which has appealed to indian and foreign audience alike. Congragulations!

    Nitin Yende.

  13. Tom McRae said

    this is one of the most amazing movies ive ever watched it funny inspiring a definte work of art its truly and amazing love story

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