My Reactions To Slumdog Millionaire


After Slumdog Millionaire began its winning streak throughout the world by winning BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and more famously, eight Oscars, most of the Indian (like me) and film critics (again, like me) liked it, India being the land of controversies had other ideas. They started slamming the film and called director Danny Boyle many dirty names which would be uncouth to mention here, as I would risk receiving an R rating for Shadow Line, which some controversy-lover would definitely like to give. I’ll try looking at some of these aspects and sort them out according to my understanding.

 

Movies like Taare Zammen Par were better movies than Slumdog Millionaire and should have won the Oscar.

 

Ignorant fools, behold! Can’t you understand that Slumdog Millionaire is a HOLLYWOOD film, and Taare Zameen Par is a BOLLYWOOD film? Get it? The Academy Awards are only for American films, and not for Indian ones. Indian films can only win an Oscar if they meet certain conditions. Did we give a Filmfare for Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, even though it won eleven Oscars? Did Titanic receive a Stardust award? No! Because they aren’t made for Indian audiences – the main target is Amercians! It is directed by a foreign director. So what if it was shot in India? When Kal Ho Na Ho was shot entirely in New York, did the Americans say complain about a foreign language film being shot on their soil? I hope you get my point.

 

Slumdog Millionaire did not deserve to get so many awards.

 

Why? Why does it not deserve so many awards? Other films nominated for the Best Picture category in the Oscars had certain flaws. The Reader had an unnecessary excess amount of lovemaking, Frost/Nixon was boring for many, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is quite boring too, although the storyline was damn strong. Milk had a strong message to give, but many were against its controversial topic. This leaves you with Slumdog Millionaire. Although the story line is pretty unbelievable, yet it is a great fantasy about love and hope during despair, which the world really needs during this financial crisis.  It captivated hearts even though a third of the film is a foreign language, and it had a cast composed of no big stars. It had a great music score, for which Rahman deserved two Oscars. The sound mixing had trains arriving on tracks, which accurately resembled trains. Danny Boyle did an awesome job as a director, handling real people from slums without a common language to communicate. The screenplay was aptly modified to make the movie more pleasing and interesting. So there you are.

 

The blind(ed) kid could not possibly know of Benjamin Franklin’s existence on a hundred dollar bill.

 

Ok that, I agree, is a wee bit tough to justify. You must remember, Jamal and Salim (Malik) used to go to school. Similary, that child (Arvind) might also have learned about it in school. That does sound far-fetched, I agree. Another possible explanation could be that after begging for such a long time on the streets, he might have learnt about this fact from some American he must have come across. Remember – Salim and Jamal were very small when they left Maman, and now there were in their mid-teens – big enough to wander around Mumbai and work in restaurants.

 

Jamal did not mention Surdas in the flashback.

 

Even I was stumped at this one, but after watching it again, I found the answer. We need to me a bit more careful while listening to dialogues.  

[Maman calls Jamal to sing that bhajan song]

Maman- “Yaar Jamal, wo Darshan Do Ghanshyaam wala gaana suna de; woh Surdas wala. Mera favourite bhajan hai woh.

Big mistake here. Sorry fellas.

 

India has been showcased as a poor country full of slums. 

 

Well, people, wake up. Look around you. There are so many slums and poor people living way below the Poverty Line (which Rs 434 per month). Nearly 4.2 % of the population is food insecure. Children are really mutilated and forced to beg as shown aptly in the movie. And slums appear only for a mere fifteen to twenty minutes in the film.

 

Well, that pretty much sums it up. Comment about this, and we’ll debate.

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31 comments

  1. Mayank Singh · March 9, 2009

    Nice effort to explain the success and “flaws” of the film…. You drastically changed my opinion about it…. Although I am still not convinced that it deserved the ammount of hype and appreciation it got…

  2. Prateek Vijayavargia · March 9, 2009

    @Aditya – I could not have agreed more, my friend. I have always been of the opinion that all these critics of the movie have been unfair to it. Also, I suppose cinema is universal and we should not get into nationalities….too much.

  3. Aditya · March 9, 2009

    @Mayank Singh: You just felt that the movie got a lot of hype because everyone in India was excited. Nothing else.

    • Aditya · March 9, 2009

      @Prateek Vijayavargia: True. Cinema is universal. I feel that even the Censor Board should not exist, diallowing aspiring filmmakers to let their imagination fly.

  4. John · March 9, 2009

    That is really interesting! Can you explain more about your future plans?

  5. Prateek Vijayavargia · March 10, 2009

    @ Aditya – Well ofcourse. But as far as the Censor Board is concerned, I beg to disagree there. We sometimes do need censorship in movies because of the country’s peace, safety and security. The censor board, here in India, is maybe censoring too much but definitely the board has to be there. Anyways, Censorship is another different issue altogether, so dont get too much into dat.

    • Aditya · March 10, 2009

      Oh yeah. Sorry about that. Got carried away too much 😀
      Yes, censorship is needed, but too much is bad.

      • Prateek Vijayavargia · March 10, 2009

        Yes quite correct – Too much of everything is bad. Lets say that much is needed which will ensure peace, security and our creative freedom, without hurting anyone’s sentiments too badly.

  6. Bobby Singh · March 10, 2009

    Brilliant post my friend, you articulated all that I wanted to say about the more clueless and brainless responses of some Indians who acted as if they had been raped by Slumdog Millionaire.

  7. Mike · March 10, 2009

    That is really interesting!
    Can you tell us more about your future plans?

  8. Viplove · March 10, 2009

    @Aditya

    I totally disagree with your points.

    1. Indian movies (Like Mother India) have got Oscar nominations but were not able to win them. So please don’t keep saying that we cannot win Oscars.

    2.Slumdog millionaire never deserved 8 oscars, it was Taare Zameen Par which did (Indian movies can win Oscars).

    3. The Dark Knight , didn’t it deserve. Slumdog Millionaire is a movie about slums etc. Many more movies have been made on slums.

    4. How did Jamal get a chance to be in “who wants to be a millionaire”, I know you would be saying “luck”.But according to a dialogue of his he said “I came here, because i thought Latika would be watching it”.It means that he was the one who decided to go , was it his wish by any chance. Are other fools or what?
    5. No Indian complained about the movie being shot on their soil, so please shut up.

  9. Viplove · March 10, 2009

    @ Aditya

    my sixth point

    6. The dialogue delivered by Maman when he calls Jamal to sing that bhajan song is “wo wala wo Darshan Do Ghanshyaam. Mera sabse favourite bhajan hai woh.”
    and not “Yaar Jamal, wo Darshan Do Ghanshyaam wala gaana suna de; woh Surdas wala. Mera favourite bhajan hai woh.

    Listen the dialogue carefully you idiot.

    • Aditya · March 10, 2009

      Yes, I saw that part. I’ll edit the post soon.

  10. Prateek Vijayavargia · March 10, 2009

    To be eligible: a film must open in the previous calendar year, from midnight at the start of January 1 to midnight at the end of December 31, in Los Angeles County, California. Thats the rule. Its nothing that the movie has to be American or not. If we release our movies in Los Angeles, they can also be nominated.

    1. Ofcourse we can win Oscars. Who said, we cant? Mother India, Salaam Bombay and Lagaan are the only Indian movies to have been nominated in the Top 5 in the Best Foreign Language Film Category. Many good movies from nations all over the world compete in this category and its extremely difficult to win this one. In the past, we have been sending movies like Eklavya:The Royal Guard, Paheli and Jeans to the Oscars, then how can we hope to win? Water was Canada’s official entry to the Oscars because we never allowed it to be shot here. I am sure an Indian movie will one day win in this category – Its not an impossible task.

    2. Taare Zameen Par was a great movie. But maybe there were movies better than that – So lets not jump the gun there. We should make movies for our audiences and not for the Academy. If we win, then great, if not then also its fine.

    3. The Dark Knight was not even nominated in the top 5. It was an entertainer, a Hollywood Box-Office superhit, but it was never a critically acclaimed movie. Not everyone enjoyed it. (A superb performance by Heath Ledger did win him an Oscar for this). Many more movies have been made about slums, yes – But with such finesse, I doubt. The movie is not about slums, my friend – Its about hope and optimism – The story of a slum kid is just the backdrop to move ahead in the story.

    4. If you want something badly, you can get it. Thats irony. Maybe he was destined to be in the show. There is no denying the fact that the movie has a lot of “magic realism” moments, but then aren’t some other movies which have won very fictitious too?

    5. I think we also never complained about the Slumdog being shot on our soil. Its just that, after the movie became famous, some people just tried to pull it down, by unnecessarily targeting it.

    6. I think it is within the realm of possibility that since Maman repeatedly said that it is his favourite song, he would also have mentioned its writer.

    Mr VipLove, everyone is entitled to their opinion are you are, to yours. We have no problem with that. And stop using words like idiot. I think you are being very idiotic by doing that.

  11. Viplove · March 10, 2009

    @ Prateek Vijayvargia

    Although your explanation to some of my points was impressive but not for all.

    1.Aditya clearly said that we can’t win Oscars (we can’t even get nominated), when we can, isn’t it misleading? He should get the right information and then post it.

    2. He said us to listen the dialogue carefully, posted the wrong one when it wasn’t that. He should be corrected by someone or he will give wrong information to others.

    3. He wrote “When Kal Ho Na Ho was shot entirely in New York, did the Americans say complain about a foreign language film being shot on their soil?”.
    I just asked him ,when did the Indians complain?

    These 3 points provided by him are absolutely wrong.
    Tell him to change it please or he will become a source of wrong or incomplete information.

    P.S I am sorry for using the word “idiot”.

    • Aditya · March 10, 2009

      Alright, fine, my mistake. Thanks for pointing it out! I completely appreciate your points – they are quite valid.
      Indians complained when Slumdog Millionaire was shot in India and still it was not given preferrence. Some did. Not one of the publicized debates.
      And please don’t use “idiot” again. I feel demoralized 😛
      About that dialogue – I’ll listen to it again and correct it. And, I meant that Indians cannot win Oscars in the main categories. Only in the Foreign Film category can our film win. Lagaan was nominated in that, but it lost.

      • Prateek Vijayavargia · March 10, 2009

        We can win in the main catergories also, as I pointed out earlier, if we release our movies there and they are good enough to be voted by the members of the Academy 🙂

      • Prateek Vijayavargia · March 10, 2009

        We can win in the main categories also, as I pointed out earlier, if we release our movies there and they are good enough to be voted by the members of the Academy 🙂

      • Viplove · March 10, 2009

        Yes,
        i am sorry for that.
        I won’t say it again * apologies*

  12. Prateek Vijayavargia · March 10, 2009

    @ Viplove – (Are you a student?)

    Thanks. No problems there – Just make sure you are not rude to others in the future, and giving space and freedom for everyone to express their opinion. I am sure Aditya has no intent to provide anyone with “wrong or incomplete information”.

    1. Please read again: He never really mentions the fact that “we cannot win Oscars”. Yes We Can!

    2. Aditya gets it wrong on the Surdas thing, yes!
    Though, I will have to see the movie again carefully to get this fact 100% verified. I am sure he will agree to update the post.

    3. See the point is, that many people (Print Media. TV Shows, Blogosphere etc) have been criticising a British director for shooting his movie here, that too in slums to depict a poor image of India. Well the point is, when we go and make movies in Switzerland, USA, Australia and exotic places, these countries don’t have any problem. In fact, a lake in Switzerland has been unofficially named “The Chopra Lake” because of the way he has used it in films. It has also helped boost tourism there, because of so many Bollywood Movies. So I guess we should not have a problem with that.
    These slums are a reality, and we have nothing to be ashamed of. Remember, they are full of energy, as Danny Boyle always mentions….There is no extreme poverty and everyone is trying to do something. I just hope our Governments learn a lesson and do something for the slums (adequate infrastructure, housing, clean sanitation etc), because a lot of our talent is lost due to lack of exposure…and lives on in slums.
    He has just used an analogy here as far as KHNH is concerned..Nothing wrong with that.

    Another fact is, should we really fuss so much about winning Oscars? I mean, we have so many great artists, including AR Rahman, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Lata Mangeshkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Satyajit Ray, Mira Nair and many more. They have achieved global recognition and have a great fan following. And thats what matters more than an Oscar Statuette!

    Jai Ho!

    • Aditya · March 10, 2009

      Thank you so much for supporting me!! Yes, I saw that Surdas part. It doesn’t have Surdas in it. Sorry. I’ll edit the post.

      • Prateek Vijayavargia · March 10, 2009

        I never supported you, Just put up the correct facts 🙂

  13. Viplove · March 10, 2009

    Yeah sure!!
    We have filmfare etc, we have our awards then why should we care about winning an Oscar (We are showing that the english are a superior race) and wanting to win their awards.
    I mean seriously we should not care about Oscars when we have our awards.

    • Aditya · March 10, 2009

      Arre, aren’t you in Montfort?

      • Viplove · March 21, 2009

        Hi,
        yes I am in Montfort.
        XII

  14. Prateek Vijayavargia · March 10, 2009

    @VipLove – Nobody is superior ofcourse! But Frankly…..Forgive me for being pessimistic here – Filmfare Awards are nowhere close to the Oscars, (I just saw them last Sunday). I would still prefer the National Awards given by the Government. We should be proud of our own awards definitely! And I hope we have some more credible award ceremonies.

  15. Ankur Banerjee · March 13, 2009

    Damn you Perry the Platypus Aditya! 🙂 You stole my Slumdog post – along with most of the content I wanted to write!

    • Aditya · March 13, 2009

      Ha! And its not “Damn you, Perry the Platypus”. It’s “Curse you Perry the Platypus!”

  16. prateekv · March 13, 2009

    Same here, even I wanted to do such a post, but alas Aditya won the race!

  17. Rish · September 4, 2009

    the reason *I* don’t like it is because they ruined the book for me. The book is so much better, and i kept expecting this crap, and no, it was so good that i had to read it again just to appreciate it. (i do realize that unless you know me well, that comment will make, like, zero sense. But that’s ok :P)

    • Aditya · September 4, 2009

      I’ve read the book, and it is awesome. WAY better than the movie. But I treated the movie as an individual, and not as an adaptation.

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