Monday, February 2, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - Review

Slumdog Millionaire (SM) is nothing great. It just showcases the poverty of India to the western world. Something – they look out for from a movie based in India. This is what I had read/heard about SM. According to a great blogger it was a big disappointment Thanks to the ministers of AP I don’t really think so. I was late for the movie by some 20 mins due to traffic jam. Ah! Traffic jam seems to be one of the few excuses which, only on the face value, gets ready buyers. At least, I never bought it until I was stuck in a traffic signal for some 15 mins as some ministers were passing by on the other side of the road. Are you thinking why I thanked the ministers?

Anyway, when I entered the already settled theatre, Jamaal, had won Rs 16k. The next question was – “Who was the singer of Darashan Do Ghanashyam?” The depiction of the journey Jamaal had taken to answer this question was nothing but heart rending. I had only heard of the beggar gangs – never having experienced/seen it. The way the kids were made blind, gave the viewers a sneak peek into the world they had never imagined to be so crude – the dialogue of Salim that they scoop out the eyes with spoon reveals the agony. The winner, however, was the logic which Jamaal used to come to the answer. It takes much more than formal education to come to the conclusion that blinded beggars singing Darashan Do Ghanashyam pointed to Surdas. Even after watching the tragic scoop-out-eyes episode, my guess was Mira Bai! However, here there are two major assumptions made – Jamaal knew that Surdas was a blind poet and so did Mamam.

Salim’s dialogue – “The man with the Colt 45 says shut up” obviously rings out loud in Jamal’s mind when he was asked the question on the inventor of the first revolver. Even, the setup of the call center where he worked as a chaiwala whispered the location of Cambridge Circle.

The questions, however, were used as media to narrate the story of Jamaal and his mundane journey which may not sound mundane to most of us. The beggar gang racket, prostitution, gang war in the underworld were all touched upon while Jamaal walked his way to the hot seat. The thrill created in the movie was much more than most self-proclaimed thrillers.

Having really enjoyed the movie, I was curious to watch the starting 20 mins of the movie which I missed thanks to the minister’s travel. The first question on Amitabh Bachchan actually asked question on the standard of living of people in the financial capital of the fastest growing democracy. Though, I think, that the dip-in-shit sequence may not be “required”, but that brought out the intensity of the fan following of a crazy BigB fan. It’s not uncommon for people to write letters to the “stars” with their blood which, however, gets delivered (if at all it gets) to god-knows-what address or if one is lucky, to the servants/PAs of the “star”. Taking a dip in the shit in the spur-of-the-moment is what the innocent Jamaal, for whom BigB is the only God, the only way to get to his deity. Why on earth is this made an issue? Maybe, this has to do with our power of observation cup-shaped-curve. Our grasping power is the maximum in the beginning, goes down in the middle and goes up again at the end. I guess, a few eminent writers were not able to get out of the dip-in-shit sequence to truely appreciate the movie. I am just trying to guess as I thankfully (or ruefully?) didn’t have to see the dip-in-shit as the first sequence.

The communal riot sequence was also treated well despite the short time it was allotted. The fact, that by the night even Latika (Hindu by name) was left orphan along with Jamaal (Muslim by name) reminded me that the movie is based on Q&A by Vikas Swarup – a diplomat! Not only that, isn’t it so with any riot? People from all sections/religions die.

The acting of all the actors was great. The kids, however, stole the show – the credit of which goes as much to the kids as much to the director. Irrfan khan’s role didn’t have much scope for him to act. Looks like Irrfan is favourite of the Western Film makers. He is spotted on almost any western movie based on India. Ankur Vikal who plays the bad guy, Mamam, did a fantastic job. The music of the movie (by A. R. Rehman) blends very well with the flow of the story and adds to the subject. Anil Kapoor’s role was a bit negative. Even, his pronunciations were not okay - remember the way he pronounced millionaire as mill-i-naire! Also, the fact that he took the initiative to call the police was a bit filmy. This could have well been done by the producers of the show who, actually, need to fish out the money.

I had liked the first season of KBC a lot. I remember how the streets would get silent at 9 pm. Slumdog brings back the same enchantment of KBC only adding to it the thrill of living the life of Jamaal.

A so-called management guru claims that Slumdog Millionaire sucks. Another great blogger brushes the movie off as yet another indian-shit-showing-western-movie. The Biggest B says the movie is portraying the under belly of India . Personally I don’t know if Slumdog deserved a Golden Globe. Neither do I know the criteria for getting a Golden Globe. As an ordinary viewer, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The thrill, the subtle pointers to the societal problem of India, the way the story was told, the meandering path the story took from its journey from the mountain to the sea make it a good movie to watch. Let's, for the time being, forget the nationality of the director/producer. Let's forget that this film is made for western audience and that it is only meant to showcase the dirtier side of India. Let's, for one time, watch this film with a neutral mind and without the pride in our prejudices. I am sure, you'll enjoy the movie - Oscar or no oscar, Gloden Globe or no Golden Globe. There are tons of great work being done across the globe - most of which don't make it to the silver screen. Given all that, watch SM just as a movie; and you may well end up grabbing an original copy of it for your collection.

- Cheers!


abhishek poddar February 2, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

after reading this i would definitely like to watch this movie.the way you have perceived the movie is totally opposite to what most bloggers have done.

Prashant Mehta February 7, 2009 at 8:22 PM  

SM is not immune to bloopers and goof-ups. A host of them - some are incorrect themselves! - can be read at

tarundeep February 23, 2009 at 2:07 PM  

bahut vadia

sagar February 25, 2009 at 9:25 PM  

A good anlaysis.. And I agree to your views after you say "let us forget the nationality of the director"..bringing in the director's nationality would certainly complicate matters and I mayy not agree with you.
There are points where I agree with you,particularly the Anil kapoor part..I think the director also tried to show that people who have come 'up' the hard way, don't want other downtrodden people to come 'up', and thats the reason he gave Jamaal the wrong answer to a question.
Also the movie points out that small incidences can lead to big reactions, case in point being Salim n Latika. Latika put "chilly on Salim's willy" and Salim reacted to take revenge throughout the movie ( except the last move ).
Looking forward to some discussion :)

sagar February 25, 2009 at 9:31 PM  

A good analysis.. Bringing in the director's nationality would certainly complicate matters and I may not agree with you after the directors nationality has also been considered in analysing the movie...

I feel the Director tried to show that people who come 'up' the hard way dont allow others to come 'up' the financial ladder and he did that with the help of Anil kapoor when he gives a wrong answer to Jamaal..
Also the director tried to show that small incidences can have BIG reactions.. Latika put "chillies on Salim's willy" and thruout the muvi Salim acted in a way to take revenge on Latika ( except the end ).

Rajat Jain March 1, 2009 at 9:08 AM  

I first read your Delhi-6 review, and not this. It is so interesting that once people don't go to the theatre with the mindset of "criticizing" the film - the are so many good things to enjoy! Alas, I pity the film critics, they have the worst ever job if they need to go with such mindset.

I liked SM and as you said about ignoring the director's origin - well I didn't know that the director was British (I missed the first 5 min :) ). As they say, Ignorance is bliss... I'm happy I was a little late!

BIswajit March 1, 2009 at 11:02 PM  

May not be as one of the all time greatest hit movies to conquer the oscar ,but it definitely brought India and its talents' to the much deserved limelight. Other movies like (TZP) may better the storyline of SM from an indian viewership point of view ,but yes the presentation definitely matters and thats where of SM scored. JAI HOY!!!!

Tejaswy March 17, 2009 at 7:00 PM  

I wanted to add a comment but then that would be me adding to its hype

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