Slumdog Millionaire: Brilliant yet flawed

Finally watched Slumdog Millionaire. Really enjoyed it – it was an energetic, well directed journey. The child actors especially played their roles brilliantly and made you love them.

The flawed aspect was the over dramatization of slum life. Jamal as a child encountered pretty much every bad thing you hear about slums (riots, child beggar exploitation, prostitution, slum lords). You could see how the movie was catering to Western audiences, to every stereotype about India – you could see the calculation that for an Indian movie to do well in the west, it has to tell a certain story. (Its not a coincidence that the after Salaam Bombay (which is also about life in slums), this is the next movie about India to break out into the world stage.)

It did break out of that mold somewhat after the middle when the focus was on Jamaal’s life as a young man, with life as a chaiwala in the call center. I think the first half of the movie could have been been much less dramatic and still managed to get across the range of life experiences picked up by this child from the slums.

But in spite of the pandering, the movie had a certain joi de vivre. Every moment of the movie was enjoyable. The music (by AR Rahman) was brilliant. India has been in love with his music for many years now, but this is his entry to the world stage. Overall, a lovely movie, less pandering next time please.

21 thoughts on “Slumdog Millionaire: Brilliant yet flawed

  1. And why was it called slum ‘dog’? I have no idea. Anyways, I think it was a boring movie. The music was great.

    And I’d prefer Doggy Boil to keep his scruffy paws out of India and make a movie on his folks back home.. Irish jokes are everything anyways.Maybe ‘Irish dogs’ would be a good name for a movie he should produce. What a looser.

  2. I thought the movie was pretty much OK. I understand why the above comment sounds ridiculous. The thought of an ordinary movie(from an Indian perspective) getting all the attention for the obvious reasons can get to you.

    Nevertheless, the direction was awesome.

  3. I cannot really understand this brouhaha over slumdog catering to the western audience by depicting worst of things about Mumbai and India.

    This is not the first movie with a black face of Mumbai. You did it in Satya. You did it in D-Company and a host of other films where Mumbai is depicted as a city of mafias, riots, beggars and more.

    But when Slumdog did the same, everyone stood up in unison. Why? Just because it was directed by a British and not an Indian. But the novel on which the story was based was written by an Indian.

    This makes me to think deeply about the actual reasons for the hype. Is it the success of the movie that is pricking the critics? Think over it

  4. Film is not “celebration of creativity”… is just any other movie made with goody-goody feel on human relationship and Love prevails non-sense. It is just that it is made by a westerner and distributed by “Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures”…hence it made a global opening….

    India is portrayed as a pathetic slum which west wanted to see as they do not want to tarnish the image which they comply with.

    Rest stupidity of congress to take the credit is cheap and they should try to do something for country rather than taking a bath in the glory of some movie.

  5. I think it depends on how you take it. I found the movie brilliant and it won some well deserved oscars. Besides drama is the name of the game right?

  6. hi rashmi..

    good that u watched this movie…
    and u have written things also very well…
    but then if u think and watch closely you won’t find it over dramatized…
    this is what it is..
    and this is what is going on in india…

    we all r sitting miles away from the real situation…but then boyle has seen and been there and have known the situation…

    the tragedy or say comedy is that one outsider came and understood things so much which we could never…isn’t it…

    people have been everywhere and have done everything but then not everyone is able to depict/show case what he/she has seen…some see it thru lens and some thru their cams…its just the matter of how we see things…

    what u have written above is ur point of view and ur way of thinking..
    what slumdog showed was boyle’s point of view and his way of thinking…

    try thinking from his point of view ad u will start loving the movie more than ever….

    Sry if i had been rude or harsh anywhere…

    tke cre
    b well..

  7. It’s not that point. But the fact is the foreigners want to see others beg. Being brought up in Puri a famous tourist place I know how they take photos of naked children but they always leave others.

    They use to sell it to the magazines. But I never saw any one of them ever told about slums in their countries. Even developed countries have slums in industrial area.

    That doesn’t mean that I want to say all foreigners are like that. But there is a way of them all to see Asian countries.

    They had a good script and they might not be intended to do like the above. But it is about the western world. I’m not impressed by the direction much, the actor involved were very talented and he could use them in a much better way. By the way I salute their dedication and planning. But I would like to see more documentaries like “Smile Pinki”


  8. Rashmi you see thats very good pointed out. I find film as past days background, when all that was done in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Am talking about the suaveness of childs and making them bag. But the other part of prostitute and other work is still till today continued… Here only focus is on social problems not how to solve….! but one way a love story is on main track so succeed Oscar.

    thanks for posting it..!
    regards with love,

  9. I can understand if the “westerners” like S.D.M…I mean they go bonkers over anything which depicts India and it’s culture,people in a pathetic way…pathos is the word here.But your liking the movie….
    It was one of the least imaginative works of A.R.Rehman,check out his “local” movies.sound tracks.

  10. Hi Rashmi, I was surprised that you enjoyed the movie – every bit. I immediately stopped watching wherein the kid ‘jamal’ jumped into a pit of shit or something filth and gets out of there, in order to watch Amitabh Bacchan.
    Well, there are good and bad things everywhere – not only in India and that we should not be so desperate about portraying ‘only that’ to the west. And, only bad is always dissected out, no matter how deep and remote it is.
    For India to rise – first we need ‘Pride’ or ‘Positive Egos’. A pride for our great Language, Culture and Heritage. Every race that has come up, has this dose of Pride, ingrained.
    Definitely we should appreciate the positive contribution of the film but should also criticize the over-dramatization in the potray of filth. I am still waiting to watch a film that potrays Indians in a positive light. No wonder, why some stupid American radio-host called us ‘Slumdogs’, recently.
    Take Care & All the Best

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