YEAH, YEAH, YEAH… BUT WHAT’S IN IT?
MOVIE: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008)
DIRECTED BY: DANNY BOYLE
STARRING: DEV PATEL, FREIDA PINTO, ANIL KAPOOR, IRRFAN KHAN
I start with my rating, when I review Danny Boyle’s (Sunshine) ‘spectacle’ of today that has ‘swept away’ the Golden Globes this year, with Best Director, Best Film, Best Screenwriter and as a package that was too very much ‘expected’ to be called a surprise, Best Original score, by musician of ‘Indian-origin’ A.R.Rahman. And while you relish the delight that an Indian has finally made it big in the international scenario, I urge you to take a second look at the words within single quotations – These have mighty meaning behind them all…
The reason why ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was ‘critically-acclaimed’ overseas was because of the fact that it was one of those ‘rare films’ like ‘Salaam Bombay’ (Another ‘critically acclaimed’ fare from the director who’s so out of place that she can hardly be called ‘Indian’ – Mira Nair) that showed the outsider, a ‘clear view’ of the recent craze, i.e. India. ‘It shows India as it is, the India involving “Teresa”, slums, orphanages, like “Salaam Bombay” and not that of vintage pieces like Attenborough’s “Gandhi” or David Lean’s “A Passage to India”’, says Roger Ebert, whose words, as James Lipton (of Inside the Actor’s Studio) puts it ‘is seldom wrong’.
Well, Mr. Lipton: I’m sorry to say we have a contradiction here…
Let’s see… By the way, I might be being too selfish; too unmindful of India’s ‘double-existence’ – One in rags and the other rolling in the riches, with what could be called a ‘middle-class barrier’. Maybe I have not seen a slum close-by; maybe I have not dwelled in one for more than half a day (That I have done) and maybe that, that was the reason I couldn’t ‘connect’ to ‘Slumdog Millionaire’… But I ask also this: How long are we going to be kidding ourselves that an outsider (like Boyle or Mira Nair or even the masterful Richard Attenborough) can do ample justice to the Indian lives we lead? Or can they ever do any justice at all?!
Hey Mr. Ebert. You could possibly be right in ‘everything’ except at this – But this isn’t A BIT of the
Back to our topic then: Excluding the fact that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is an insight into the real
Visuals were truly spectacular, with even the slums of
The screenplay was interesting, with every stage of the movie proving to be an answer to questions asked in a game show hosted by Prem Kumar, (Anil Kapoor) with the backbone being the tale of the ‘Three Musketeers’, Salim, Jamal and Latika, through every single struggle, every nuance of life they had to encounter.
Now to seriousness from dreams: Slumdog Millionaire sure is an interesting effort, probably quite expected by Danny Boyle, the man who added dimension to science fiction in form of ‘Sunshine’. But the film fails to keep you hooked through to the finale, which could be right from the moment the flashback narrative involves grown-up children than the preceding kids. The adventure in all their lives evaporates, along with daredevil feats, of Salim who helps the threesome escape from a bunch of hooligans, who use orphans to beg for alms, right after they impair one aspect of the children or the other, of Jamal as he screams ‘You wanted to see the real India? Well here it is!’ to a tourist couple, who cheekily respond ‘Well, here’s a part of the real
And before I complete this mixed (or mostly negative) review of mine, I wish to establish something that both Simon Beaufoy (‘Best Screenplay’ indeed!) and Danny Boyle himself seem to have overlooked: Everyone in the movie speaks two languages: English and Hindi. In unary cases, we could assume that the most convenient language was chosen as medium of conversation (like we accepted, to the extent of hailing movies like ‘15,
Listen, Boyle… I’m accepting neither. This means your movie, is two things at the same time, with the choice depending upon your intentions. A sloppily done satire or an exceptionally mediocre piece of celluloid, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ can’t be appealing to any Indian with a sense of true cinema. You’d need bias either way to take that which ridicules you, in the right spirit. And I assure you, I’ve got none…
This also doesn’t mean I’m ‘trashing’ the movie: I never deny that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is worth a watch, for some truly sensational moments, enthralling music and stylish visuals. But I do proclaim this: It’s worth nothing more. And I feel sumptuously sad that the jury at the Golden Globes felt otherwise, and this is because I feel sad for cinema in itself…