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  • Technorati: graph / links

    The obligatory Slumdog Millionaire Post


    by Shariq on 9th February, 2009 at 12:30 pm    

    I agree with Clive Davis - Over-rated. This isn’t necessarily the film’s fault. Its these never ending awards it keeps getting which I have a problem with. To be honest, I thought it was a reasonably enjoyable movie but not Oscar worthy. However, by all accounts this hasn’t been a great year for cinema and a lot of people really, really liked it, so fair play to everyone involved.

    I have a bigger problem with people like Nirpal Dhaliwal who try and make the case for Slumdog’s great profundity and read way too much into it. Nirpal’s main point seems to be that this film is a timely reminder that India is still a poor country. Similarly, Ahsan also makes the point that Slumdog was more challenging to middle and upper class Indians then Khuda ke Liye was to upper-class Pakistani’s.

    Frankly, I think most Indians realise the scale of poverty which still exists. You would have to be blind not to. At the same time, India has grown significantly in the past 20 years; poverty has come down, and while India’s ascent to world power with harmonious democracy is by no means inevitable, they have reason to be optimistic.

    So what I don’t get is why its necessary for Bollywood to aspire to some higher standard, and why Slumdog with its two-dimensional characters is seen as providing some sort of incisive social commentary.

    I haven’t seen Salaam Bombay but its supposed to be excellent. Apart from that, please read Suketu Mehta’s ‘Maximum City’ - it documents a fascinating collection of real people, exploring the many joys and contradictions of modern Mumbai.



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    34 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Amrit — on 9th February, 2009 at 1:06 pm  

      I reviewed it!

      http://gts-kjb.blogspot.com/2009/02/slumdog-millionaire-review.html

      I agree with you, but didn’t provide anywhere near as incisive an analysis, I don’t think :-D.

    2. Sid — on 9th February, 2009 at 1:10 pm  

      I’m glad you mentioned ‘Salaam Bombay’. It was much better than Slumdog and received only a fraction of the recognition.

    3. halima — on 9th February, 2009 at 1:35 pm  

      I actually thought SlumDog followed classicial Bollywood style genre - throw a bit of magic realism into what might’ve been an ordinary thriller. It reminded of the relationship between the boys in City of God ( I forget the name of that great Brizilian movie) ..

      It’s not on the same scale as Salam Bombay which I love, but they are different films - aren’t they - Salam is an independent art movie made by Mira Nair back in the days - whose subsequent movies didn’t ever reproduce Salam Bombay ( and didn’t it also have a great soundtrack?) .

      I loved SlumDog because it showed a young boy pursuing his dreams in a fantasy like way - despite the fact that Mumbai was crashing against him, working against him and his world. I don’t think it was supposed to be Mike Leigh’s gritty realism kinda representation of Mumbai.

      But it touch on some really awkward situations and at times I found myself on edge because I was’t sure how expolited the children were going to get .. and the film skated close enough to make you think about the range of vulnerabilities.

      Ultimately it is a fantasy, no, because children like this rarely escape their poverty . This is why it is Bollywood and a great bollwood movie. And in tradition, it also had a great soundtrack.

    4. platinum786 — on 9th February, 2009 at 2:03 pm  

      I liked it, it had the lot. Romance, action, sacrifice, tension, a little twist. The only thing better I’ve seen in a while was the Dark Knight.

      I think some people need to grow a thicker skin. Blood Diamond highlighted the plight of child soldiers in Africa (I loved the movie btw) but I didn’t see widespread poo pooing of it by Africans. It was more than a documentary, the same thing with Slumdog, don’t forget the story line, simply because you think it was a documentary about India’s poor. It was a MOVIE.

    5. shariq — on 9th February, 2009 at 2:10 pm  

      Hey Amrit. Your point about people hear getting a grip and realising how fortunate they are is a really good one. Shame about the two-dimensional characters though.

      Platinum, read my post again.

    6. dave bones — on 9th February, 2009 at 3:32 pm  

      I thought Slumdog was a great film, and a nice little nod to Bollywood with the dancing cast at the end. I particularly liked how many different actors played the lead roles at various ages. I hope it wins the Oscar and look forward to scenes of Mumbai and the rest of India being turned upside down when it does.

      I also disagree that it has been a bad year for films. The Story of The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke and the homespun way in which the film got made has captured my imaginiation. I thought it was a beautiful if hugely cathartic film to watch, I am only sad Marisa Tomei was over looked for her role awardwise. I am routing for Mickey for the Oscar big styley.

      I was really happy Steve McQueeens Hunger was recognised, and am sad that in such a bumper year for films The Whackness and the excellent Frost/Nixon missed out too.

      I am only sad that that stupid school teacher Winslett gets encouraged for turning out the same shit over and over.

      Awards don’t mean shit really but in the circumstances they probably do to Mickey more than most eh.

    7. Parvinder Singh — on 9th February, 2009 at 4:06 pm  

      Yes, it over-hyped and yes, the characters are one-dimensional. But look. A film that is making the likes of Amitabh Bachchan jealous must be onto something.
      It could only have been be made by someone like Danny Boyle or Satyajit Ray. Bollywood types never had time for either and now they’re throwing their toys out of their pram. Remember Nargis slamming Ray’s Oscar winning ‘Pather Panchali’ when he tried to show the reality of post-independent India.

      ‘Slumdog’ shows us India, a real India. An India we all see as soon as our aircraft lands there. Look away from the posh mega-plazas and you’ll see this India, and that’s what hurts middle class India. All they want to do is project India as some glitzy soap opera. India maybe galloping towards the sunset with its hi-tech economy and keen graduates, good. But it has failed dismally in both building its infrastructure and including the vast majority of Indians in its grand project.

      Shahrukh Khan on the other hand has argued there’s ‘no reason for people to become cynical if a film made on Indian uniqueness has made a mark in the world.’ spot on, roll on the Oscars!

    8. Rumbold — on 9th February, 2009 at 4:44 pm  

      ‘Shaadi No.1′- Now there is a film. Perhaps, for some, it lacks the harsh reality of ‘Slumdog’, but a tour de force nonetheless.

    9. sabinaahmed — on 9th February, 2009 at 5:56 pm  

      http://my.telegraph.co.uk/sabinaa/blog/2009/01/30/from_slum_dog_to
      I too have reviewed it.

    10. Clive Davis — on 9th February, 2009 at 6:17 pm  

      Shariq, I’m relieved that we’re on the same wavelength!

    11. Rumbold — on 9th February, 2009 at 8:44 pm  

      Sorry Clive, you somehow got caught in the spam filter. Perhaps Sunny has set it up so Rod or Mel aren’t allowed over here.

    12. Sunny — on 9th February, 2009 at 11:18 pm  

      lol at rumbold.

      Btw, I agree with Clive and Shariq too, after watching it this weekend. Good film, but worth that many awards? No way.

      Btw - the book is a lot less passionate and straightforward, but it was adapted into this drama for the big screen.

    13. shariq — on 9th February, 2009 at 11:21 pm  

      Lol at Rumbold’s comment. Clive, likewise. When I see the amount of love Slumdog is getting I remind myself that untill now, Mamma Mia was the most popular film of the year.

      Parvinder, its worth remembering that India was a very, very, poor country in 1947. I think that they have done an admirable job of nation-building.

      Obviously there is no room to be complacent, but I prefer not to begrudge middle-class India its successes and instead wish it well, as it strives to improve its infrastructure and make the next steps in its economic and social development.

      Dave, I thought they were mocking bollywood at the end and found it slightly off-putting, because as Halima quite rightly said, this was essentially a Bollywood film.

    14. dave bones — on 10th February, 2009 at 12:12 pm  

      Strange how people can watch the same thing and see something totally different. We’d be no use in a court of law. Watch The Whackness if you can anyway. Ben Kingsley does a totally Oscar worthy bong in the first two minutes.

    15. Kismet Hardy — on 10th February, 2009 at 2:20 pm  

      If I can recover from the ‘I’m the only Asian in the white village and the rest shame me massa’ cock-gobbling shite spouted by Nirpal Dhallidick, I think the film managed to do what it set out to do. Entertain.

      It could have been so much more gritty (don’t forget this is the same guy responsible for the cheery Trainspotting), and I think Boyle should be applauded for not making a meal out of the true horrors of the poverty-striken Indians – instead, he dwelled on characters, and loaded many incidental characters with a sense of hope and courage that didn’t border on the twatty spiritualism some westerners obsess over.

      On the other hand, to gloss over the injustice completely would be like making a film in notting hill and leaving out all the black people

      It’s a feelgood movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously and wasn’t made to win oscars.

      (call me a cynic that’s seen one too many right-on nominations based on current global events, but it may be worth chewing over the fact that the oscar nominations were made around the time of the mumbai bombings…)

    16. Kismet Hardy — on 10th February, 2009 at 2:22 pm  

      PS. Mickey lives!

    17. Juliana — on 10th February, 2009 at 6:49 pm  

      Slumdog is the biggest example of Emperor`s New Clothes since Barack Obama.

    18. Edsa — on 10th February, 2009 at 7:20 pm  

      Shariq (#13) says: “India was a very, very, poor country in 1947. I think that they have done an admirable job of nation-building.”
      India has always been poor & destitute - the Moghuls came, the British came, independence came - 60 years have passed. India is poor as ever. The latest World Bank figures say 40% of the people live on less than $1.25 a day; another 40% on $1.25 to $2. 40% of the world’s malnourished children are Indians. India also has the largest number of illiterates.
      Rationality and modernity have not caught on yet. the country is still driven by gods, gurus, weird rituals. The army hasn’t won a single war with an equal enemy (even the Tamil Tigers killed a thousand) and is largely used to control the disaffected population. One third of the country is effectively under Maoist control. It has killed over 70,000 Kashmiris over a decade. Indian leaders are old, pathetic figures, intellectual lightweights with no charisma. Where is the silver lining in the India story?

    19. Amrit — on 10th February, 2009 at 11:09 pm  

      Thanks Shariq!

      I just think that pessimism won’t really help much in a time of intense economic difficulty, to be honest.

      I had the biggest problem with all the love-story implausibility, I’m sorry. Like *SPOILERS ALERT!* when Jamal finds Latika magically at the end… and when they escape with her… puh-leeease. And then Jamal rings up and his brother recognises him instantly. Yeahhhhh, right.

      And can anybody explain wtf the bit with Salim’s death-posturing is about? I thought that was perhaps rather wanky, the whole dying on his money. Is it meant to be symbolic of his warped values, or is he just a psycho who really, really fucking loves his money?

      I do have the populist taste :-P but some bits of a film can grate, y’know! And Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto need to gain some weight, I think.

    20. dave bones — on 10th February, 2009 at 11:15 pm  

      I don’t get this. You lot have all seen Bollywood. Look at the scripts of Bollywood films. They all read like that don’t they Amrit? Isn’t this Danny Boyles version of Bollywood? I don’t understand Clive’s orginal critisism. This is supposed to be Bollywood in style and content the whole way through no?

      To sell in the west they can’t have everyone breaking into song and dance every ten minutes but other than that- Bollywood.

    21. Amrit — on 10th February, 2009 at 11:34 pm  

      dave:

      Fair point… I know it’s meant to be like that… but I don’t have to like it! I mean, I don’t generally like it in Bollywood either. Strangely enough, I also found it even more dishonest than Bollywood on the perspective of love as seen through the woman’s eyes, because at least even in Bollywood films, you see some of the pain that women go through upon marriage in their crying, not wanting to leave their families, etc.

      Whereas Latika gets written out most of the time because it’s Jamal’s story.

      I didn’t know this was Boyle’s attempt to sell Bollywood to the West… I thought he was just looking for a canny and sufficiently palatable way to recast the rags-to-insane riches tale during a time of increasing economic hardship. I think my problem was the having-his-cake and eating-it-too, with all the arty cinematography and attempts at gritty realism being shoehorned in with the crowd-pleasing romance and the hero doing good.

      Still, I guess a brother gotta eat, and making a really gritty film probably would’ve backfired on him big-time.

    22. Vikrant — on 10th February, 2009 at 11:45 pm  

      The army hasn’t won a single war with an equal enemy (even the Tamil Tigers killed a thousand) and is largely used to control the disaffected population.

      So the 1971 war doesnt count eh? At any rate pray tell me how 1 million man army, half of which is deployed in Kashmir control 1.2 billion ‘disaffected’ people?

    23. dave bones — on 10th February, 2009 at 11:50 pm  

      Hey I was wrong about Indian reaction to this film eh. This is hilarious.

    24. mehul doshi — on 11th February, 2009 at 12:03 am  

      I think the Indian domestic reaction has ranged from indifference to Bachan’s incredulity to burning effigies. Its a big country. Its critical success is in part due to diaspora Indians, across all generations. I think dave bones is correct that this is Boyles’s attempt at Bollywood. There are so many nods to Bollywood, including the Bachan landing and the sing-song at the end. Which is why Nirpal Dhaliwal fails to understand the underlying success of SM - it’s first and foremost a love-story, with a backdrop that raises social issues. Dhaliwal has it twisted. Like all good love stories it is helped by its tight plot and narrative, and they flick the right emotional switches - much like any other good Bollywood love story.

      Prince Charles thinks we can learn from SM: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/theroyalfamily/4535451/Slumdog-Millionaire-shanty-town-a-model-for-urban-planning-says-Prince-Charles.html

    25. Riz Din — on 11th February, 2009 at 5:40 pm  

      Agree with all those who think it is a bit of a damp squib that doesn’t quite deliver the goods.

      Shamelessly plagiarised from an earlier blog post (of mine):

      “Overall, I’d give it about 3.5 out of 5 - it is definitely worth watching watching, has great acting throughout, and it wonderfully captures the dark, manic beating pulse of Mumbai. However, I do think the film has been over hyped, and that the unrealistic premise that holds the story together conflicts with a film that is otherwise very realistic, gritty and un-Bollywood like.”

      I’m not one for Bollywood films, but has anyone seen ‘Chandni Chowk to China’ - damn fine for what it is I tells ya!

      Oh a money saving tip for film buffs: as well as 241 Orange Wednesdays, they have added a BOGOF Pizza Express main course deal into the bargain…not bad I says!

    26. halima — on 11th February, 2009 at 5:44 pm  

      “I’m not one for Bollywood films, but has anyone seen ‘Chandni Chowk to China’ - damn fine for what it is I tells ya!”

      Seen the ads for it and looks great so going to hunt down a copy - even if it has Ashkey Kumar in the lead ( who i just cannot enjoy watching on screen..)

    27. Jai — on 11th February, 2009 at 5:47 pm  

      I’m not one for Bollywood films, but has anyone seen ‘Chandni Chowk to China’ - damn fine for what it is I tells ya!

      Ah, phooey…..Just see “Jodhaa-Akbar” — if you watch any mainstream masala Bollywood flicks immediately after that, most of ‘em seem totally crap in comparison.

      That Farhan Akhtar movie about the rock group is supposed to be unusually good, though. Apparently.

    28. Jai — on 11th February, 2009 at 5:56 pm  

      Halima,

      even if it has Ashkey Kumar in the lead ( who i just cannot enjoy watching on screen..)

      You should see ‘Namastay London’, in that case. Akshay is superb and deserved the awards he won for it. Bloody good film too; superficially a masala entertainer, but it had enough unconventional elements to raise it above most of the rest of the mainstream movies along the same lines.

      Some very funny stuff involving Rishi Kapoor too — very realistic depictions of insomniac British Asian parents “venting” about their kids late at night, along with a hilarious incident involving a lungi (I won’t give it away).

    29. halima — on 11th February, 2009 at 6:11 pm  

      Jai

      “You should see ‘Namastay London’, in that case. Akshay is superb and deserved the awards he won for it.”

      OK, might give a go since you recommend so well , i hadn’t heard of it! I like superficial movies done really well ..

      and yup , Rock On is meant to be very good.. it, along with Dhostana seemed to win all the awards in Bollywood this year .. It seems Bollywood decided to go indie and embrace being gay this year.

    30. edsa — on 11th February, 2009 at 6:32 pm  

      Jai #27: I fulkly agree that after “Jodhaa-Akbar any mainstream masala Bollywood flicks after that seem totally crap in comparison.”
      As usual, India excels in quantity - 900 films a year most of them escapist crap. Producers have to escape to overseas locations (Mauritius, S Africa, Europe etc) because India’s infrastructure is ghastly with squalor all round. Overseas they round up the local girls, the fairer the better, get them to go half-naked and just when you expect a dialogue, they unlease those boring Bolly numbers. No wonder they win nothing at Cannes or Hollywood while Korea and China do.
      Another thing: looking at Bolly films you’d imagine that India is made up of light skinned people. Danny Boyle put the Bolly producers to shame - he showed the Indians in their true skin-tone - mud-brown or grey-brown. The Indians must have cringed to see brown Indians at last - not just ‘wheatish’.

    31. SE — on 11th February, 2009 at 8:40 pm  

      @edsa:

      What white supremest organization do you belong to or are you just a self loathing NRIdiot?

      Oh and this movie was for pretty much the ignorant white majority who think “Pakiz are asss-backwurds”

    32. Jai — on 12th February, 2009 at 2:22 pm  

      I should probably clarify that my previous remarks about ‘Jodhaa-Akbar’ were to state an opinion about the exceptionally high quality of the movie in all aspects (in my view), not to denigrate the mass of mainstream Bollywood films. The key words were “in comparison”.

      As for the physical appearance of people in “Bolly” films…..well, if you want to go down that road, it’s not like programmes such as “Hustle” and “CSI: Miami” show an entirely accurate depiction of the appearance of the average British or American person, now, is it ? ;)

    33. Jeff Paul Internet Business — on 17th February, 2009 at 5:48 pm  

      When investing in a keyword phrase that is going to gain popularity, you are actually going to get more ongoing benefit for the same amount of work. This is the great way to go during a bad economy.

    34. Amrit — on 18th February, 2009 at 12:28 pm  

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2009/feb/12/slumdog-millionare-oscars



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