Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE


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

RATING: ---MIXED---


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 India that you signed the Nuclear Deal with. This isn’t the India that suffered during the 26/11 terror strikes. Bollywood, I assure you, has got nothing to do with the true India that we hoard amidst us (and in ‘us’ I do not include ‘you’ of course!). Neither does any ‘film-maker’ who has ever surfaced in the recent years (I’m not sufficiently peacock-y to tell ‘even in the years to come’). I’m afraid (or proud to say) that the true India, with its religion, castes, monotony, the poor, the filthy rich, the cricket-craze, (err… I’m sorry that doesn’t come into India too) the middle class, the working class, schools, our ‘education system’ is still a heritage that ‘we’, the people who ‘live’ lives and not ‘artificially design’ them, IN INDIA, hold close to our hearts. And that’s never been let out to ANYONE, let alone a bunch of lame (should I use the word?) who sit in comfy, cosy cinema halls trying to figure out how they could possibly make their bucks over the next piece of (whatever) that’s going to feature in their ‘faithful’ newspapers…


Back to our topic then: Excluding the fact that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is an insight into the real India, (which it isn’t, of course!) what more could a movie-goer (not critic!) like in this movie? Dev Patel as Jamal Malik, yes: There’s nothing extraordinary for him to do, except deliver his dialogues well, and maybe look at Latika (Freida Pinto) with expressive eyes and say, “I’d do anything for you” (Something of that sort, anyway!). And Freida Pinto too isn’t a stunner. Neither was Irrfan Khan, nor Saurabh Shukla. Not even Anil Kapoor. But on the other hand, standing out from every adult cast in this movie, exceptionally brilliant were the child artistes, raising smiles every little time they pop in. Particularly, the boys who played Salim Malik’s (Madhur Mittal, with a subtle performance, perhaps a tad peaky) childhood were spectacular, with the character’s fire-in-eyes quite obviously seen.


Visuals were truly spectacular, with even the slums of India shown in better light than the dismal sight they always are in any Indian movie that had claimed realism in the past. The slight tint of yellow to the overall camerawork seems to add flavour, as does the use of fast-forwarded sequences like during the riots (Christopher Doyle’s ploy in Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express, 1994). The music by A.R.Rahman surely needs mention, with soundtracks pepping up the pace of the movie, providing the requisite dose of raciness, though it isn’t as inspiring during the moments of romance and that of deep sentimentality (anyway those were really few, this never was a deep movie). But all that it could deserve is a job well done. Nothing more! Come on, you can’t be shoving Golden Globes up the already puffed up fellow for every thing he coughs out! After all, this is an award that has been won by incredible musicals such as ‘Shakespeare in Love’, ‘The Lion King’, dating back to ‘The Sound of Music’ days. Slumdog Millionaire in that list? How does that sound…?


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 America to you!’ giving him a stout hundred dollar bill, of Salim handling a revolver ‘too heavy for him’ just to save Latika from the ill-reputed streets of Dharavi, and the last interesting sequence being Salim and Jamal (fully grown) discussing the current state of their country (“India is the centre of the world now, bhai… And I: I am at the centre, of the centre”) could raise a couple of smiles. There’s zilch more than clichés after that, with a spoiler of a climax involving heroism, sacrifice, change of heart, a dance number, (Although it was hilarious to watch Dev Patel dance!!!) and a kiss, with only an ‘and they lived happily ever after’ missing.


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, Park Avenue’). But when two languages are spoken in equal extents, we need to assume comprehension of both tongues, by the cast who played it. Dev Patel, with an obvious British accent in his English is a terrible misfit in that aspect and though he delights with expressiveness, him knowing stuff that call-centre people don’t, and talking in crystal clear English without flaws is beyond just fictitious: It’s outrageous! And that says something: Either we’re fools, or he’s clever to have gotten away with awards and premieres at festivals.


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…

4 comments:

kittykat_gurl said...

totally agree with you in whatever you've said about this movie.
PS- got your blog from your comment on "Mr" Arindham's blog (remember him...err i mean his blog?)

Milroy said...

I wrote this to Arindham, Thought of giving you one hit.. do share!!

who are you?? I actually never heard about you but read ur Adv. worth Rs. 2Lac. But u spoilt that ad wit ur sucking article. I adviced my friends not to join mental hospital called IIPM.. when i saw ur pic.. i realized ur mst be the first choice for "Koi Mil Gaya" for Rakesh Roshan.

Well, at the end of the Article u adviced ur reads to buy Amitab Bachaan's movie.. but let me disclose the fact here..

Dear All Indians,
What's great about Amitab Bachaan? there are Hollywood movies copied and even he imitated.. i dnt want my readers to go mental like Arindam.

Above all... just search in google "BOLLYWOOD MOVIES COPIED FROM HOLLYWOOD"

So what will you call the brain of Indian Film-makers??
Recycle Industry??

They have money and want to make fast money.. only way to steal other's ideas.

for instant.. "I See You (2006)" was copied from "Just Like Heaven (2005)"

Here is the motherfuckers List of copied movies from Hollywood.

Partner = Hitch
Sarkar = The Godfather
U Me aur hum = The Notebook
Love story 2050 = The Timemachine
Mr ya Miss = Switch
Omkara = Othello
Aitraaz = Disclosure
Chori chori = Housesitter
Ek haseena thi = Double Jeopardy
Ek ajnabee = Man on fire
Kuch to hai = i Know What You did last summer
Phir Hera Pheri= Lock stock / Two smoking barrels
Taxi no.9211= Changing Lanes
Musafir= U turn
Kaante= Reservoir dogs
Deewane huye pagal= There's something about Mary
Aawara pagal deewana= Whole Nine Yards
Murder=Unfaithful
Mujshe shaadi karogi= Anger Management
Train= Derailed
Zeher=Out of time
Killer=Collateral
Qayamat= The Rock
Dilwale dulhania le jayenge= The Sure Thing
Kuch kuch hota hai=Sleepless in Seattle
Chak de India=Miracle on ice
Jab we met=A walk in the clouds
Race= Bad Lovers
Andaz apna apna= Dirty Rotten Squandrel
Sholay= Magnificent Seven
Life in a... Metro=The Apartment
Black=The Miracle Worker
Dhoom 2=Payback
Ghajini= memento
Ugli aur Pagli = My Sassy Girl

Karthik - A David Lynch in the making... said...

Mr. Milroy, I do not have the slightest of grudges against Mr. Arindham and thus I don't know how much help I can be with respect to your comments about him, for I visited his webpage only because my mom asked me to read his negative review of slumdog. Just clarified I didn't hate the movie but it doesn't deserve the hype and awards.. Anyway your description of the movie industry being in the hands of a bunch of copycats is undeniable. Sure you're true, but let's hope you at least break the ice (You're a filmmaker aren't you? I aspire to be one some day too :D)

Thank you for dropping by,
Would be heartened if you'd publicize my rev iew further (I'm sorry for being so blunt!!!)

Karthik

Vishal.. A Stripling Awakens said...

PERFECT !!!