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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why Did Slumdog Millionaire Make It? Or Why Should It Not?

I got so intrigued by the film, the famous multi-awarded film that caught the attention of the others as well. Thus, some readings satisfied my curiosity. First, I did not realize at first that the director for it is British (Danny Boyle) and the fact that it was based on a story of an Indian individual.

With this successful movie, it is very normal to see critics as well as praises to it. It is actually very impressive to see such comments for and against this big hit in the US theatres but they said, it was a NO-hit in India film. This fact intrigued me so much and the same time, the various comments, both pros and cons against the film intrigue me as well.

slumdog millionaire, slumdog, slum dog, jamal malik, salim malik, jamal, indian story, indian drama, oscar winner, oscar awards, poverty in india film, slums in india
India is not "anymore" portrayed as that poor in the film as the brothers' lives are in the present and they were depicting that poverty is more in the past. Look at this scene...

The Film
So what is the movie or the film about? Slumdog Millionaire actually got 94% tomatometer from Rotten Tomatoes and its overall comment says like, “Visually dazzling and emotionally resonant, Slumdog Millionaire is a film that's both entertaining and powerful.” At least this one is something positive.

The Synopsis (Slumdog Millionaire, 2008)
British director Danny Boyle takes another intriguing career turn with this heartfelt underdog tale. Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is a street kid (or "slumdog") who has landed an appearance on India's version of the hit TV game show WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE? Jamal exceeds expectations on the show, and the producers alert the police after they become suspicious of his methods. The young contestant is subsequently arrested and is interrogated at the hands of a nameless police inspector (played by Bollywood star Irfan Khan). As the interrogation proceeds, Boyle tells Jamal's story through harrowing flashbacks that both show the terrible poverty of Mumbai and help explain how he knew the answers to the MILLIONAIRE questions. 

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is a tightly woven story that has been expertly edited into shape. The contrast between Jamal's upbringing and his chance of escaping it on the show are adeptly juxtaposed. Mumbai is portrayed as a place of terrifying poverty and unforgettable brutality, and Jamal and his brother get into a never-ending succession of challenging situations. But the way Boyle ties together Jamal's life experiences with his answers on the show is quite brilliant, and the film really does run the full gamut of emotions as we see him growing up, falling in love, coming close to death, and teetering on the brink of escaping from his terrible predicament. The film belongs to Boyle's cast, who are mostly unknown outside of India. Patel, in particular, gives a startlingly mature performance that audiences are likely to remember long after the credits role on this affecting feature.

Starring: Dev Patel, Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor, Madhur Mittal, Freida Pinto
Director: Danny Boyle
Screenwriter: Simon Beaufoy
Producer: Christian Colson
Composer: A.R. Rahman
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Box Office: $125,324,813 Genre: Drama

Critical Critic
"People keep praising the film's 'realistic' depiction of slum life in India. But it's no such thing. Slum life is a cage. It robs you of confidence in the face of the rich and the advantaged. It steals your pride, deadens your ambition, limits your imagination and psychologically cripples you whenever you step outside the comfort zone of your own neighborhood. Most people in the slums never achieve a fairy-tale ending." (Sudip, 2009)

What can I say about Sudip’s idea is that it is indeed reasonable. However, I would also like to note that not everyone reacts the way how people should react. People in the slums might be robbed off of confidence because they fear that their family member be inflicted with danger if they do something stupid. In the cause of the film’s plot however, the brothers are in a different dimension: no relatives and no future to talk of. What they did was merely for survival. Orphaned at a very young age, no one could tell them what is wrong, what is right, what is fear and what is danger. Additionally, the last statement Sudip added is striking. That is very true! “Most” people in the slums indeed simply fail but sa he noted, it is “MOST” and NOT all!

Another note for the movie tells, “Following its release in India, the film faced criticism from various members of the public alleging that the film fuels western stereotypes about poverty in India and that it peddles "poverty porn" (Singh, 2009).

That statement might be true but isn’t the movie/film itself showed the changes? The scene where the brother meet up, Salim is boasting the big changes that happened and is still happening in Mumbai or in India in general. Isn’t that something positive?
In fact, the call center where Jamal works in the film is very impressive. Not the attitude of the workers but the technology they use. I mean, it is normal for the call center company to have this technology or these technologies but the fact that foreign investors are investing in that country is something positive as well.

Webbielady’s Say
As a viewer of the film, there is nothing so special about it. It is a film one can forget in one night if it has not won awards. What made it striking, as I always tell myself and other about Slumdog Millionaire film, is the way it was carried on. Anyone can actually grow in the slum, steal, be abused and be a winner. I have seen such truths in the Philippine luck games but of course, the chances are thin as hair or even thinner. The story itself is regular but how it was built and the idea in the story is something. The flash backs are effective and the “reasons” why Jamal could answer the questions in the game show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” are very striking.

Is the movie a success and deserving winner? Naturally Americans crave for a different taste. Thus, the movie gave them aversion for “something different” and they’ve liked it. I cannot say the film deserves the merit or not as I need to see its competing counterparts but what I can say is, I like it myself. But does it deserve that much Oscar awards? Now I think the judges’ decision is irrevocable, so be it!
Mazudar, Sudip (2009). Man Bites Slumdog. Newsweek, Februrary 21 2009 Retrieved 10 March 2009 from http://www.newsweek.com/id/185798.
Singh , Madhur (January 26, 2009). "Slumdog Millionaire, an Oscar Favorite, Is No Hit in India". Time. Retrieved on 10 March 2009 from http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1873926,00.html?imw=Y.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Rotten Tomatoes, 2009. Retrieved 11 March 2009 from http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/slumdog_millionaire.


  1. The average American is probably not familiar with the poverty of India or even the typical Indian Bollywood movie. So, Slumdog Millionnaire reveals new and old India to the typical American viewer. Yes, the plot is melodramatic, but effectively done. Script, acting, cinematography are all excellent and compared to the typical American movie that wins Best Picture, Slumdog is a delightful change.

  2. I just saw this movie recently. I heard about how successful this movie was. At first I was like what the heck is a slumdog anyway? Then I saw the movie.In my opinion it was a pretty good movie to watch. It was funny yet it really depicts reality of what is really happening there and it makes you think how lucky you are with what you have.

  3. I still have to see this movie. They are saying that it is a quite inspiring story. Much more related to us Filipinos too.
    Ingat kabayan!

  4. hi, nice blog
    Your Blog is More interesting.great work.:)
    moreover, ...if possible at ur free time visit mine..and give ur suggestion to improve..
    if possible add me in your blog roll. i will return my favour!!

  5. Hi! Please excuse me if I am butting my nose in where it does not belong. Do you have an extra "title" in your HTML? Your home page comes up with the word "title" before your site name.

    Take Care,

  6. Hey guys! I never imagined your responses to be like these... Hmm.. very interesting.

    As for Pete, there is nothing wrong.. I put that title word there. ^^

    Thanks for noticing though.

  7. I cannot wait to see this movie. It seems to be a classic 'rags to riches' story, which I love. Add the American Idol format and it was sure to be a winner.

  8. Thanks for your post. Check out the panel discussion on the same topic at http://www.rmrmedia.com/blog/2009/02/talking-points-slumdog-millionaire/

  9. People want to dream. Nuff said.

  10. @Dwacon,

    Just like American Idol... that is why these shows has alot of watchers and fans. Aside from the entertainment, people can dream with it as well.

  11. I loved Slumdog Millionaire. I love the concept, how the story was told, and the characters and actors as well. The kid actors were amazing, especially the kid who played the young Jamal Malik. I loved it because it really drew me in, like I don't want to be disturbed. Wish we'll get more movies like it.

    I hope Filipinos can also be recognized the same way as our fellow Asians (Indians, Chinese, etc) have all over the world.

    I love your blog, by the way. :)

  12. Slumdog millionaire is just fantastic. The story really is not a typical holliwood blockbuster, but then again, I think slumdog millionaire won the judges because of it's realistic presentation of Indian poverty.

    I also think that the global recession made it a timely movie. Don't you think so?

  13. Having just watched this film for the first time, it appears that I am the only person outside of India that thought this film was a pile of S***.

    Not only was the character development poor, but the extremely thin plot seemed to be pushed along by a series of "because its destiny" events and other deus ex machina.

    was I the only one who felt no emotion when anyone died or was rescued or reunited?

    how this won any awards I will never know.

    It reminds me of how Fleet Foxes released a new album at the same time as kings of effing leon and guess who won all the awards then.


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