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.