It is becoming funny. The moment you say something against “Slumdog Millionaire”, you are being an elite, hypocrite, who does not want to look at the darker side (read slums, poverty) of a city like Mumbai and country like India.
No – for God’s sake! I have absolutely nothing against someone showing poverty in a movie. I am not offended by it. I know it is a reality and let them show all they want.
I don’t like it because it simply was not a good movie. The entertainment aspect was a dud. The “real India” aspect unimpressive.
Let me elaborate.
The entertainment aspect of the movie was based on a very interesting concept. One person with an extremely humble background comes to a game show and knows all the answers. How? There is a story connected to each of them. I am not looking for whether the premise is realistic. I have some expectations from it because it is interesting and intriguing. A good story can come out it. But…
- This “slumdog” knows that the picture on the the dollar bill is that of Benjamin Franklin. How? From another blind “slumdog” who is a beggar and has lived even less privileged life than himself. It did not answer the “How” for first “slumdog”. Instead it created a “How” for the second one. Pray, what is the answer to the second “How”. Nowhere to be located in the movie. A mind expecting something interesting becomes frustrated instead of becoming entertained or satisfied.
- Why on earth did our hero need to jump into a pit of shit to know that Amitabh Bachchan was the lead actor in Zanzeer! For God’s sake. Was it a subtle depiction of unhygienic conditions on slums? No, it was a gross depiction of something which I will call “sensationalization of unhygienic conditions and sensibilities of slum dwellers”. Really, there was no need to have a story behind knowing that Amitabh Bachchan was the lead actor in Zanzeer. After all as our “slumdog” himself says – He is the most famous man in India. And unhygienic conditions were depicted very well without this scene.
- Why would the host of a show take it so personally that a person from a humble background is winning the money. If anything, he should be happy. If the “slumdog” wins all the money, it will be great for the TRP of the show and the host should love it. It is not his money anyway. Let the producers and sponsors worry. Mind you, the host was not just being suspicious (which would have been a genuine concern since if later it was revealed that the guy cheated, it’d be bad for the show). He seemed to be taking it as a personal offense that this guy is winning the money. Funny. And no host whose mind is in the right place would so overtly insult the participant on the show. Whatever might be his personal feelings, if he is worth hosting the show and has any professionalism to speak of, he would be cordial and respectful to the participants while the show is being recorded. We have seen enough of these shows, haven’t we? I am not surprised that Amitabh Bachchan felt bad about this movie 🙂 – his character has been so absurdly villainized. Of course he never spoke of this aspect 🙂
- Half the characters speak English with Indian accent, one fourth with American accent and all these American English speakers speak Hindi in their childhood. Now, what are we trying to do here? Are we trying to make a movie where everything, including language, is authentic. Then let’s keep it Bombay Hindi/Hinglish all through and give subtitles in English. Are we trying to keep the language as English, so that the intended American audience gets something; but we also want to give an Indian flavour to it? Then let’s have everyone speak English with Indian accent (and still give subtitles). Or are we trying to abstract out the language, since we are making it for American audience anyway. Then let’s leave the language out of the way and have everyone speak American English. What on earth is that mixture doing there? That mixture of language (American English, Indian English, Sophisticated Hinglish and Hindi) looks relevant in the new economy corporate circles, not in the situation the movie is trying to depict.
The realistic poverty aspect is unimpressive. “So, you don’t like the fact that it shows poors in an attitude of ‘I am poor, but I am happy’. Right?” The fans would immediately ask. Wrong. All I am saying is that the depiction was mediocre. All the claims of Indian Film making can take a leaf out of it is non-sense. Don’t know what I am talking about? See a bunch of wonderful Bollywood movies in last decade or so, if you want to see the underworld nexus. And you don’t need to go that far for “I am poor, but I am happy” either. Just take out some time to watch “Traffic Signal” by Madhur Bhandarkar. Or are we talking about the situation of girls in prostitution and dance bars. Check out “Chameli” and “Chandni Bar”.
In short, let’s stop getting overwhelmed just because an
American British (pardon my not checking the nationality of the director) of the stature of Danny Boyle cared to make a movie on India. It is a great movie for Americans (and others with fancy notions about India). Fine. Let it be. We don’t need to fall head over heals on that. “Pardes” (remember Mahima Chaudhary? She is hosting a show “Salaam-e-Ishq” on Star one these days by the way.) was a great film for India. But it wasn’t a great film to depict American society to Indians. Americans won’t fall for that movie, right? We have seen much better ones on India in India and will continue to see them in future. It is not a Indian Film. It is an American Film and great for them. Let the buck stop there. With due respect to all the awards, both Gulzar and Rahman have done much better work in past. And let’s hope they continue to do so in future.