Recently, Slumdog Millionaire has created a huge buzz, first in the US and now in India. The hype has reached a feverish pitch as it swept the Golden Globe Awards and is now slated to carry away an Oscar or two as well.
With everybody watching, talking and wanting to watch Slumdog Millionaire I finally got myself a DVD and sat down to it, full of expectations.
I watched and waited, waited and watched, laughed once at the guy begging little Jamal to come out of the toilet, drew back in revulsion as little Jamal dived into a load of shit, laughed again as he pushed his way through the crowd covered in crap to get an autograph from Amithab Bachan and ………hummmmmmmmmmm, that’s it. In hind sight, the movie was a rather let down.
I’m not much of a movie buff, but I did watch a few like Range De Basanti and Taare Zameen par, and in my humble opinion, they were extremely good quality films on India. Both are poignant stories, very nuanced and displaced a deep amount of thought in writing the script and skill in direction.
They virtually are social commentaries, Range De Basanti talks about State Power and the aspirations of young people in India and Taare Zameen Par is a fantastic film about little known and highly stigmatized Learning Disabilities. The common factor of course is Amir Khan, who is an exception film personality. Now compare Slumdog Millionaire to any of these super hit, intellectually stimulating films and it is no where in the reckoning.
I am not critical of Slumdog Millionaire for reasons like that it exposes India’s underbelly and poverty, for that is the truth. With nearly 450 million people living below the poverty line, there is no way I’m burying my head in the sand. Of course, India is moving and things are changing, but it needs to change fast enough so that a sizable proportion of this 450 million people see positive change within their life time.
I think Slumdog Millionaire is a waste, for its terribly loose story and pathetic dialogues. When the slum kids suddenly branch off from Hindi to English I was wondering who taught that slum kid such good English. Initially I thought the name “Slumdog Millionaire” was about creative license, (and I would have given it a miss had the film being a real solid story) but after watching the movie, I think the Director Danny Boyle or who ever decides of the name of a film could have done better. The name clearly crosses the line of polite sensibility. Nobody came across there as a dog, at the most it was about a few street smart kids, and millions of Indian children live by their wits, just like the actors in the film.
Irfan Khan in the Mighty Heart is an excellent actor; Slumdog Millionaire simply did not expose the talent in him. Anil Kapoor is a good actor and probably single handedly carried off the movie. I’m yet to figure out why Jamal had a continuously zonked look and Latika was mediocre at best. Salim was a mere shadow though he had the potential to play of more frontal role.
All in all you got to watch this film just to realize what mediocre cinema passes off as the best in Hollywood. I think those guys have a lot of resources at their disposal, if only they had the brains to use it.