Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire – A very ‘poor’ film

As I read Vikas Swarup’s Q & A, his simple, conversational style writing and perfectly etched characters brought the novel alive before my eyes. When I finished reading the wonderful book I eagerly awaited the release of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ promising myself that I wouldn’t compare the movie to the book, or the picture my imagination had come up with.

I then heard the story had been ‘adapted’ from the book with the basic premise being the same but changes in the storyline and characters. I admit to being a tad disappointed, but the cacophony of praise accompanying every tiny bit of news about the movie forced me to stay positive and eagerly await the release. After winning a multitude of awards and recognitions ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ finally did release here and when I saw it I wished I hadn’t.

For even if I do have qualms about the movie showing the ‘slums and the underbelly’ of India or about the way ‘they have depicted India in general’ the excuse of ‘cinematic liberty’ helps the makers get away with it. And, logically, when the film IS titled ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’ we can hardly have bejeweled maharajas swishing around in silk robes, answering questions in a rigged game show can we? Though slums, caste-fuelled riots filth, treachery, poverty do form a part of India, like they would of any country anywhere in the world, is it all that India is about, and is it all worth showing about India I wondered. And the American Lady telling the young Jamal ‘I will show you what the real America is’ was a real low-blow.

My only qualm is what are people praising to the skies? What did I miss?

What angle of ‘the love story’ and ‘Jamal’s love for Latika’ left people ‘misty-eyed’?

Where was the chemistry between Jamal and Latika? Where was the bonding? Where was the yearning? IMHO after Jackie Shroff and his dog in ‘Teri Meharbaniyaan’ Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto are the most mismatched couple on screen, ever!

Dev Patel is an awkward 16 year old in real life and it showed on screen as well. Besides the fact that his diction and body language were far too polished to be a chai-wala, he didn’t look like one either. As I watched him fumbling on screen, I wondered if growing up in England, he even knew what a chai-wala was?

Frieda Pinto just gets lucky by being in the right place, in this case movie, and at the right time. Her lack of talent is evenly balanced by her lack of looks. Older than Dev Patel in real life, she looked so on screen as well.

This probably had to be the 1st first film where I watched Irfan Khan hamming.

Mahesh Manjerkar looked so filthy I wished he would go and have a hot bath!

Madhur Mittal, playing the oldest Salim, was completely wasted in a miniscule part.
The only bright spots for me were;

Anil Kapoor, brown/red beard et all, in an ill-defined role, which he carried off with much aplomb, when he wasn’t hamming and looking like he’s going to seriously lose it any moment now!

Saurabh Shukla, who is an actor par excellence!

The kids playing Jamal and Salim, who were simply adorable bundles of talent.

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