Slumdog Millionaire – My take on it.

Spoilers ahead

Like all other movies I watch, I read up reviews and pretty much make my mind up before I watch a movie. On the rare occasions I watch a movie without expectations I end up liking it. Having read differing takes on it, I went today with my amma in tow to watch it at our local cinemas. Settling into the seat with popcorn and soda a good 20 minutes before the show we took the time to enjoy the movie going experience.

As the lights dimmed and the show was on, Amma and I were wrapped up in the movie and before we knew it it was Jai Ho and the credits rolling on screen. I really liked the movie. As much as there have been views that it is poverty porn and it shows desh in a bad light I did not feel that way. It came across as realistic to me. Perhaps all of these does not happen in sequence to one single person but I would think of it as cinematic licence.

All those school years walking past sadiq basha nagar with its alleyways and kids running around in khaki shorts hanging loose at their waists and watching one room tenement owners go about their daily life perhaps prepared me for this movie. All those years of traveling in the Southern Railways reminded me of the line of kids squatting against the wall relieving themselves oblivious to the trains whistling past. It was as natural to me as any other sight that would meet me in the bylanes of Madras. The mounds of dirt or the scavenging kids came across as realistic.

What impressed me most was the sense of hope throughout the movie. I did not find it patronizing or showing India as a country of slums and shit piles. All of it is true of India as are the call centers and the swanky high rises. The story happens to be of one from the slums. The casting director has done a fantastic job and the kids who donned the roles of the young Salim, Jamal and Latika stole my heart. They showed the spunk and the joy of life in their eyes. Each of those kids reminded me in turn of the cheeky little boy who would take clothes from our home for ironing or the one selling vegetables. The dreams of a better life shone through their eyes. The movie in a sense captures the vibrant throbbing India that I know and love. The one of hope and optimism.

Jai Ho indeed!

13 comments

  1. Hi Laksh. As you know – I too loved the movie. I loved the storyline, I loved the characters and how realisticly they played their roles (not overdramatising!) but mostly, I loved having a glimpse of a world I have never experienced before. You know, most of the times when we watch a movie, the producers always tend to go to “lovely” parts of a country to shot, sometimes even “editing” to make sure that nothing can spoil the shot. When I watched this movie,.. I felt humbled and privileged at the same time. I felt that I had finally been allowed a glimpse of reality and it has touched me.

    @Spillay: I agree with a caveat. The slice of life shown in the movie is just that. A slice of the Indian life. There is much to it. The average middle class person lives in brick homes with as much facilities they can afford. That would be a whole another movie. I have fond memories of my childhood and growing up years and I find no resemblance to my life in the slice of life that was shown apart from the cube farm that went in the name of the call center.

  2. Agree with every word in the post Laksh. I absolutely knew nothing about the storyline when I watched the movie, so you can imagine what a treat it must have been. The majority of the movie was sad and depressing but the message of hope and resilience was so beautifully intertwined.

    @Suman: This is exactly how I feel about most of your posts. Like you spoke my mind.

  3. S saw the movie on Saturday. The first thing he told after he came home, “naama ellam evvalavo punniyam panniyirukom” He said he liked the movie. But you know him right! He liked Dasavatharam too! Actually he watched the movie for AR Rahman. We saw the Golden Globe Awards and from then on he is so excited and happy for AR. I have never seen him like this before. I think millions of Indians are also feeling the same and all the positive vibration will definitely bag AR atleast 1 Academy Award.

    @Madhu: LOL for Dasavatharam. Am rooting for ARR. Not sure if Jai Ho was his best but am glad he is getting recognized for the genius he is.

  4. Yes Laksh, I agree that the message of the movie is hope and the execution is moving. However, do not agree when the movie is introduced as a ‘rags to riches’ story ; Jamal was in KBC not for the money;but for Latika; he gets money in the process that’s all.Could not take my eyes off from the stunning performances by the kids.
    I wrote something about this movie here;visit if have time :http://heartscontentspartial.wordpress.com/2009/01/22/slumdog-millionaire-and-obama/
    shy

    @Shy: I wouldn’t call it a rags to riches or a love story. To me it felt like candid camera capturing everything in its path with amusement playing on the eye behind the camera. I found it playful inspite of the gore.

  5. I too loved this movie.I went to see the movie without reading the reviews,the whole story and knowing about the actors.I was thrilled to the core when i saw the indian actors.I didn’t even know that the music was by A R rahman till the end credits rolled in.It was a feel good movie.It gives us hope that anyone can achieve anything even when you come from dire circumstances.The screenpay,cinematography and music is excellent

    @Anila: Knowing the cine buff in you am sure you loved this movie. here’s to ARR and SDM.

  6. I agree with all you have said. But the film didn’t make me go “wow” There is still something about it that I am still not able to verbalize. I am trying to read other’s reviews to see if I can get aclue to that. Will do a post when I find it.

    @Usha: I know what you mean. Its the exact feeling I had with Lagaan. I felt it was a good movie but nowhere near a classic. I felt it to be a letdown in some weird way I could not express in words.

  7. My husband saw the reviews & wanted to see it due to that, I just saw the poster and thought it would be interesting. We both enjoyed the movie and I agree with what you have said, it was definitely a breath of fresh air, or optimism especially in the current times we are in. I was very proud to be an Indian and felt that although the negative was shown at the same time it showed what we are capable of if we put our mind to it and of course life is the best teacher and you are constantly learning.

    @Kiran: Glad you both liked it. Let’s see if it wins the Academy Awards πŸ™‚

  8. Surprised that you found hope in this movie !

    @Vijay: Actually hope is what kept me glued to the screen. Just cos I don’t get stuff I feel I am entitled too I pull a long face and moan and groan that life is unfair. Watching the kids skip and play and deal with the life they have been dealt epitomizes hope to me. It was the life in the movie amid the darkness that made is endearing.

  9. I was waiting for a post on the Golden Boy ARR and since I did not see one, thought would comment on this.

    Did you watch the Oscars, when A R Rahman and Resul Pookutty won i was overjoyed. I thought we have come a long way and here to stay.

    I am looking forward to your post πŸ™‚

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