Slumdog Millionaire

I have mixed but mostly positive feelings about Slumdog Millionaire. One thing I’m sure of however, is that the film definitely wouldn’t have won Best Picture if 2008/2009 wasn’t the year of woe, gloom and doom.

I like Bollywood-type films. I haven’t seen that many, just Monsoon Wedding, Water and now, Slumdog Millionaire ,and they have a couple of good things in common- vibrant colors, a never-say-die attitude, energetic songs and dramatic acting that somehow fits magically into the entire loud mishmash of things. Having been to India for a 3-week trip and witnessed for myself how really, impossible can be possible in that country, I can safely say that Slumdog, like Monsoon Wedding and Water, captured the essence of India- how abject poverty can thrive alongside majestic, modern architecture, how the dirtiest of slums can be right next to unbelievably beautiful valleys, how happiness can sometimes be due to ignorance, how simple joys actually exist and how messy everything really is. A.R. Rahman’s soundtrack is the heart of the film and is an important reason why Slumdog was a pleasure. The first half of the film was well-paced, realistic and was by turns, funny, heartwarming, tragic and nerve-wrecking.  Acting was on the whole, very natural, and the child actors were wonderful to watch.

Slumdog deserves most of the Oscars it has garnered. Danny Boyle has produced consistently good work, the editing was pretty much faultless and the entire concept adapted from a book,  innovative. But Best Picture? Slumdog started turning draggy towards the end, there were many loopholes which you can’t just brush away by saying it’s a fairytale, there wasn’t true grit to the story- sure, there were scenes of poverty aplenty but there wasn’t  meaning to those scenes other than to display elements of slum dwelling. You don’t get the real struggles faced by the characters, which explained why the happy ending couldn’t make me feel more. Frieda Pinto, I felt, dragged the film down quite a fair bit. She cannot emote and the child actresses portraying her character were so much more interesting. Then again, her character was pretty much bland. Slumdog is a sweet,  moderately cheesy romance flick which provides a cursory glance into the developing world, and no amount of hype can make me take it more seriously than just that.

Still, there is no doubt that Slumdog is enjoyable. 90 per cent of the audience stayed back to watch the ending credits featuring a buoyant Hollywood dance sequence. The film has brought international attention to the alarming living conditions of slum-dwellers and has given the children a chance to live a better life. At the end of it all , you walk away feeling fuzzy, warm and grateful, and I guess, in these times, what we all need is just a dose of warm fuzziness, no?

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