Sunday, January 25, 2009

'Slumdog Millionaire' hurts

I am desperately searching for a person who can point out one single positive character in the hyped-in-unheard-degree movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’

I just loved the way the story is executed, effectively portraying the struggle of an underdog to claim his love though a TV show, fame being the bonus point. The basic thread of the story is really unique. A boy, in search of his lady love, ends up in a live quiz show. And he knew all the answers because of many disturbing events he had to go through. But somehow I felt that in the process of turning Vikas Swarup’s ‘Q&A’ into ‘Slumdog..,’ the scriptwriters have just painted an entire nation bad.

Children are either small-time crooks or made to beg. Growing up, the boys end up becoming bigger crooks or call-centre workers and the girls turn either prostitutes or concubines.

India is portrayed as a nation were a child would jump into a pool of excreta to escape a closed lavatory, just to see his matinee idol in close range. Well-dressed elders are either crooks or are heavily selfish upper-middle-class snobs. Foreign tourists are tricked to the maximum by cunning teenagers.

Finally, the quiz master, an underdog-turned-topdog himself, so vile that he can’t stand a kid winning the money and the laurels. He tries to deceive him. And when that doesn’t work out, he hands the teenager to police. About the characterisation of Mumbai police, the lesser said the better.

Agreed that there are heavy shades of grey everywhere, and that stares at your face in a huge city like Mumbai. But that doesn’t mean that you can portray an entire nation bad.

And finally, the Rahman score. It’s fate that ‘Roja’ or ‘Dil Se’ wasn’t born in Hollywood. The 'Slumdog..' music in the media because SOME ‘gora saahibs’ found the tunes hummable. For us, it’s not even the shadow of the genius.

I admired the way the storyline went, but what was shown as the entire country was really just a part of it’s dark alleys. What a pity!


KB said...

I appreciated your comment my blog reviewing Slumdog Millionaire. You make excellent points. I also enjoyed your review. I completely agree that the movie is heavy handed and you could even say one-dimensional in its portrayal of India (not that I'm claiming to be any kind of expert), but I did find redeeming qualities in almost every major character.

Also, thank you for introducing me to you blog, I'll be back.

Lori said...

Thanks for visiting!

I have to disagree though. How can you say 'it's the prejudiced image of India' when 50-60% of the population of Mumbai lives in the slums? When it's that high of a percentage of the population, can you really say it's just the 'underbelly of Mumbai' or just the country's 'dark alleys'?

And, where does the movie claim to represent all of India? Where does it 'portray an ENTIRE NATION bad'? I reiterate that the movie is a STORY-albeit a rather fantastic story, but a story nonetheless.

Lakshmi Sravanthi Chowdam said...

Hi Chandu,

Its true that the movie showed the a flash picture of Mumbai slums. But there may be many ways too for an orphan child to become a good citizen who got educated through any orphanage and had built his/her own character and have achieved something great, but not noticed by anyone, which was not touched in this movie... May be the director doesnt wanted to show all the sides of the slums...and even if he showed it may not have added much value to the movie itself...bcoz again it may become regualr masala mixed Bollywood movie or an Big B-Amitabh movie whatever.

I appreciate your review and the comment posted on my blog.

I admire journalists, it is my dream proffession.

Thank you!