Splitting Slumdog Millionaire

Review by: Underdog Writer *

I have heard of Danny Boyle a few times before. But I am not acquainted with any of his films. Even though I staunchly persevere to watch or amass all the good films I can in any language, it's tricky to keep track of everyone.

The first time I insignificantly heard of Slumdog Millionaire, I wasn't interested. I presume it might be one among those regular foreign Indian films that is short of any novelty. When I heard later it was extensively shot in Mumbai, my interest surged.

I actually wanted to see how a western filmmaker cinematically interprets the city landscape and textures of Mumbai. And I promptly watched the film before the film was release in India.

The visuals were amazingly captured. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle had done a fabulous work. The editing was kept at a frenetic pace and rhythm, the emotions keep on shifting back and forth exhaustively enhancing the non-linear narrative style.

Bu the strongest point of Slumdog Millionaire I felt is the concept. Jamal Malik, the slum underdog knows all the answers because somewhere or the other he has came across them in his life. A communication theory student will tell you it refers to the communication mosaic.

We are a product of our experience. That is how we construct reality in our heads. Vice versa, what is in reality is what is in our head. So reality differs from person to person as every individual has unique experiences.

For a slum boy reality means poverty, stench, garbage, open lavatory. For a rich British, slum could be a tourist site- a flight from his reality.

Slumdog Poster

Slumdog Poster

These days a plethora of negative remarks about 'Slumdog Millionaire' from the Indian intellectuals have been escalating in prints and blogs. A Mumbai advocate had even move the high court arguing the word 'slumdog' is derogating. It seems they can't savor the success of a good Indian film by a British filmmaker or trying to effortlessly gobble a piece of fame out of the films' success.

Or is it that these high fliers who dwells in luxury flats and drives fancy imported cars wants to change the west perception of Indian reality to squash their inferiority feelings?

Though Slumdog reminds me much of CITY OF GOD and its sequel CITY OF MAN and SALAAM BOMBAY by Mira Nair, some of the underdog films that I enjoyed watching, Slumdog Millionaire has equip a lot of elements of our own Bollywood film.

Unlike the others, it is far from realist cinema. It reminds me of the two brothers' saga of escapist Bollywood film in the 70's which were very popular.

If the Indian class can't stand the west depiction of Mumbai underbelly, then personally am sick of the semi clad white females dancing in every Bollywood film. Nor can I stand the exotic locales of New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico or Egypt. Coz I belong to the great Indian middle class.

It is to be noted that it is master filmmaker Satyajit Ray who introduced Indian poverty to the west. Even the Oscar nominated MOTHER INDIA extravagantly displayed the misery of the great Indian peasants.

Satyajit Ray was the solitary face of Indian cinema we had. It is only recently that the West started taking glint notice of the glam side of Indian films.

But I can also not forget the words of a German distributor of Bollywood films who said, 'in Germany when Bollywood films were new, there were many audiences. But now the graph is drastically decreasing as all Bollywood films look the same. We would prefer more content driven Indian films'.

For Slumdog Millionaire, Jai ho!

* underdog writer, a frequent contributor to e-pao.net, reviewed this film.
The writer is a filmmaker and can be contacted at writer(dot)underdog(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted on April 11 2009.


Who is the Best Actress?

  • * Abenao
  • * Binata
  • * Devita
  • * Kamala
  • * Manda
  • * Sonia
  • * Sunila


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