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Slumdog Millionaire
Year:
2008
Country:
USA, UK
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Romance
IMDB rating:
8.0
Director:
Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
Dev Patel as Youngest Jamal
Saurabh Shukla as Sergeant Srinivas
Anil Kapoor as Prem
Jeneva Talwar as Vision Mixer
Freida Pinto as Latika
Irrfan Khan as Police Inspector
Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail as Youngest Salim
Ayush Mahesh Khedekar as Youngest Jamal
Jira Banjara as Airport Security Guard
Sheikh Wali as Airport Security Guard
Sanchita Choudhary as Jamal's Mother
Himanshu Tyagi as Mr Nanda
Storyline: The story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's (2000) (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show's questions. Each chapter of Jamal's increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show's seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really ...
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Reviews
Just What The Doctor Ordered
An exhilarating realistic fairy tale that will make you feel like flying. I certainly felt it. Rewarding without being opportunistic. This tale of two orphan brothers in a slum of Bombay is a mixture of heart wrenching and uplifting emotions. I didn't know anything about the film other that what I just mentioned and that was part of the enjoyment so I won't talk about the film to allow you the same discovery I went through. Let me just say that this is Danny Boyle's best film and the cast of unknowns is truly extraordinary. The last few minutes of the film will have you on the edge of your seat hoping against hope that what "is written" is really written.
2008-11-03
A crowd-pleasing masterpiece?
The editing, digital cinematography, and Danny Boyle's direction (with co-director Loveleen Tandan) create a fascinating aesthetic which is perfect for the material. However, barely anyone (among the vast minority of people and critics who didn't care for this massively acclaimed film) is complaining about the film's technical virtues however, so how about all that contrived, sappy melodrama?

To my surprise, "Slumdog Millionaire" is very tasteful in almost every respect. The romance scenes are either beautifully understated (most of the scenes with them as children/young teenagers, and a couple after that) or fantasy melodrama like much of the stuff near the end of the film (although the actual final pre-credit shot itself is again, a tender and beautiful moment). I have no issues with the fantasy melodrama however, because most of the film is done in that tone. Even the very realistic and brutally true-to-life scenes involving the raids of Muslim sections of the slums by Hindus, and the luring of children to a life of begging on the streets (for gangsters and criminals) in exchange for accommodation and food are done in a manner that is both tastefully evocative of reality while fitting in tone with much of the rest of the film, which has a more hopeful tone. It sounds improbable, but that's what the screenwriter and director(s) achieve here. The film doesn't strive for 'gritty realism', but everything in the film (yes, everything) is perfectly evocative of reality. The trouble with 'gritty realism' is that it often is gritty and hopeless in a way life rarely is to most of us, and is actually laughable if done wrong. Jamal's flashbacks to the begging end in misery, but before that we get the happiness and relief of slum life that these children felt. The raid is unrelentingly horrifying, but it is a haunting memory rather than something the film dwells on without stopping. The film also gives us scenes of comedic escapism which are still within the realm of plausibility as well.

If you don't know the general plot by now, here it is: Jamal is a boy from the slums of Mumbai who has reached the final question on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" against all odds. The film, through a plot device I won't reveal even though it's only a mild spoiler, reveals the sources of Jamal's knowledge of the answers to each question (except for the ones he doesn't know and guesses at/uses the lifelines for) through flashbacks to him throughout his childhood and teenage years. Here enter the accusations of the film's supposedly 'hilarious', 'impossible', and 'dumb' contrivances. There's no way a chai wala knows the answers to those questions, and it's too convenient that he happens to have experienced something suitable for all those answers. I beg to differ. With a life like Jamal's (which is, believe it or not, being led right now by many children in India) I should hope that he gained at least that much knowledge. He didn't actually know the answers to every question, and on a game of both luck and knowledge it's entirely plausible to me that Jamal's game could actually happen. The only huge contrivance is the nature of the very last question and what happens when it's asked, but by then the movie had me in its grasp and the ploy worked. The fact that every member of the cast is absolutely excellent, including the child actors, doesn't hurt either.

It sounds odd, but "Slumdog Millionaire" seemed to me like it found a way to combine a realist look at India (and, according to the Indian person with whom I attended the film, it is absolutely spot-on in almost every regard, and certainly doesn't contradict anything I saw during my short visit to India) and a romantic melodrama. The end result, with the screenplay that combines the drama, comedy, and thriller genres to great effect, is both an aesthetic triumph, and unlikely as it sounds, a crowd-pleasing masterpiece. Also, the music is brilliant, both the original score by the legendary A.R. Rahman and the excellent choices made when it comes to the pop music included in the film (though that is to be expected from a Danny Boyle film). As for those moaning about the love story, perhaps you have not found that person yet, get back to me when you do.
2008-12-25
Offensive, Depressing movie
I find the movie extremely offensive and racist. It shows Indian culture as bankrupt and evil. There isn't a single good Indian person in that movie. Every character in the movie is mean, ugly, corrupt, evil with no moral values. Is it only a coincidence that the only person nice to kid was a white American? I have had people ask me if India is like that? You can see comments in you-tube under India's version of Who wants to a millionaire that says "what corrupt country gets its own contestant beaten up by police"? Mission Accomplished for the British director and his cronies. Do you guys really believe India is such a morally bankrupt society? Did these guys ever see the Indian version of the show before they made the movie? The host is extremely warm and welcoming (not condescending as portrayed in the movie). And why would any audience laugh at those condescending remarks??? And what is so uplifting about this movie? It is extremely violent and depressing. How come the west likes to see only movies that show abject poverty and misery? This movie is made by a westerner for a western audience so that they can feel good about themselves. Pathetic!
2009-01-16
City of God Has One Vital Thing Slumdog Millionaire Does Not
Slumdog Millionaire is one of the most critically acclaimed movies of 2008 but the hype surrounding it is a bit undeserved. Don't get me wrong, this is at the very least a good movie and is quite a terrific movie 2/3 the way through. What the movie does though in the last 1/3 is make the fatal mistake of turning into a Hollywood or maybe in this case a Bollywood movie. It takes away from that genuine and satisfying feeling.

The acting all around was very good particularly from Dev Patel and the small kids. There performance are probably the only thing that is overlooked in this film. Without much of these very good performances the movie would not have been at the level it was at.The directing of Danny Boyle was his best yet. The look of the film was amazing and many screen shots of India were breathtaking. The musical score was very fitting to the style of the movie. It was one of the best scores of 2008. Where this film fell apart was at the writing. Towards the end its withdrew into a standard romance. It was no longer the great and amazing adventure we had witnessed for most of the movie. The complex relations seemed to be over simplified and it does the safe thing to do in the approach of tone but if taken into a drastically different direction could have lead it to be a real classic. Yet instead of ever peaking or sky rocketing to greatness it had plateaued and didn't deliver the way I had hoped it would, this largely in part by the failure of the screenplay.

Many people have compared this film to City of God because the film are actually similar in many ways. Yet City of God has something Slumdog Millionaire does not have which is depth and character motivations. These things are vital to these kind of movies being successful. City of God seemed to have a more plausible story because the story was more linear. Events took place as a result of other events. This did not happen in Slumdog Millionaire, the story was more chopped up and too many of the events just seemed to pop up out of no where. Slumdog Millionaire did take a very ambitious approach in the way it was made which is commendable. Is this a 1st rate movie though? The answer to that is no.
2009-01-30
Good movie, Highly overrated
I FULLY AGREE that it is a good movie, no doubt about it, but it is highly overrated. If u people like this, there are 100s of other Indian Movies that are made much better than this(Both old and NEW). As for Rahman's music, it is GREAT (again no doubt). But this is definitely not his best. Pls go hear "dil se" and u'll know what i am talking about! Compare this movie to previous Oscar winners like American beauty, and well, u'll know wat i mean.

Verdict : To everyone who has still not seen the film, It's definitely a one time watch. Good music,Good story and Good (kind hearted if i may add) cast and crew. But i request you to watch it with an open mind. And by the way, Mumbai is not just a "slum area". :-)
2009-02-25
It is written?
Jamal, Salim and Latika, three abnormally cute little kids, live in the Dharavi slums of India. Jamal is a dreamer, proud of his signed photograph of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan. Salim's a pragmatist. He sells Jamal's picture - the photo epitomizing Jamal's fantasies of upward mobility - for money. Latika sits between them. She's the female trophy who exists to either be corrupted by Salim or saved from the slums by Jamal's undying love.

Directed by Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire" tells a familiar "rags to riches" tale. Its first act consists of several brief anecdotes, Boyle fetishizing the Dharavi slums, portraying poverty as a carnival of colours and soul-deadening action. Shot with the same over-saturation and hand-held work that made the slums of "City of God" and "The Constant Gardener" problematic, Boyle treats poverty as a MTV video.

Of course it's not all fun and games. Mothers die, eyes are gorged out and child traffickers run rampant, but the film glosses over such matters, using them instead for tactical shocks and easy jolts. The reason these scenes, despite their inherent darkness, seem so trite, is because Boyle tries to have it both ways. "Millionaire", regardless of its social probing, is essentially a fantasy. It's a Cinderella story, our heroes rising above the slums by the sheer force of love and destiny, brought together on the set of a television game show, the power of pop culture lifting their dirty bodies from the filth and grime of Dharavi.

We're expected to believe that children are harvested and abused, yet we're also expected to believe in magical happy endings where everything works out. Boyle wants the gravitas of a child watching his mother murdered, but he also wants the expired movie clichés central to a Disney love story.

Toward the end of the film, a gangster cuts Latika's face with a knife. The resultant scar epitomizes "Millionaire". On the surface, we think we're looking at something "real", something "violent". But look closer and see how carefully placed and artfully directed that scar is. It's a single clean cut, perfectly framing the actress's face. It's not an ugly scar. It doesn't protrude or ruin her symmetry. In no way does it obscure her beauty. So while the initial impression is one of shock or even sympathy, the fraud is that it's carefully designed to be pretty. To be easy on the eyes and head. Contrast this with the Indian kids in 2004's "Red Light Kids" or with how the prostitutes are treated in "Unforgiven". It's not pretty when a woman is cut up. Boyle's film is one where he's not being honest about the situation, and the responsibility is on the audience not to think twice.

Worse still is the film's reliance on destiny. What engenders Boyle's happy ending is the underdog's pure heroism, an egotistical lottery mentality, a belief in destiny, and the prodigal brother's heroic martyrdom. Indeed, Salim exists solely to do the dirty work of killing the bad guys so as not to interfere with the moral purity of Jamal. At the same time, it's hard to believe that anything really matters when everything in the film is simply working according to destiny. Apparently it's destined that all the other slum dwellers (who can't get onto a TV game show) continue to live a life of poverty.

The film ends with all of rural India celebrating Jamal's victory as though it were their own triumph. The fact that "one of their own" has become rich elicits an outburst of joy. And this is the film's ideology: anybody can rise out of misery, if they are pure of heart and chosen by fate. Jamal is plucked arbitrarily out of the masses as a symbol. He is a celebration of the culture of the dice, the casino, the lucky ticket.

And so the film ends with a "happily ever after". Our boy and girl embrace before the film erupts into a happy song and dance routine. It's all quite silly. But perhaps Danny Boyle is being ironic, deconstructing the fantasy image and poking fun at Bollywood's avoidance of truth? Or am I watching too much Altman? With this view mind, I gave the film another look. How straight is Boyle playing things?

Consider this: the film travels from the "reality" of poverty to the artificial world of TV sets, Bollywood shenanigans and big money. The narrative then self-destructs, essentially becoming a thoughtless Bollywood dance movie. Brilliant still, the film ends with the line "D: It is written", an allusion to fate, but also implying perhaps that the story is itself fabricated, a screenplay and so profoundly false. Better yet, the entire film is told from the point of view of Jamal, who we know is an imaginative boy and fan of movies. Is it possible that Jamal, like Spacey in "The Usual Suspects", has just narrated a cosy lie to us solely to avoid being punished by the police? After all, Jamal is a known con artist and the plot is too unbelievable, too manufactured, to be true. The characters are too cardboard, too stereotype, too comic book. The love story is too insensible and contrived. Is it possible that Jamal has scammed the quiz program and that the film is a scam on the audience?

But no, Boyle does not seem to go down this route. There's no irony here, no questioning of artificiality, and little inclination that Boyle believes his picture to be anything more than a straight fantasy. A better filmmaker would have probed deeper, undermining the carefully manufactured Bollywood image, but Boyle seems content with his happily ever after.

6/10 – See "Salaam Bombay!", "Los Olividados", "Land of Plenty and "Wendy and Lucy".
2009-02-18
Nothing Special
The Who wants to be millionaire? theme wasn't necessary and it seems to me that it was included in the whole movie just to give it an unique approach that is not that unique after all. This movie is just another display of exaggerated social misery that may be true in the real world but in really extreme cases. This type of movies appear a lot in Latin American productions and they tend to show the same excessive social problems throwing out the worst of its society when it is actually very different in reality.

I think this kinds of movies are meant to show the worst of certain cultures and their success are given by the misunderstanding or insufficient knowledge about these cultures' reality.
2009-04-03
one of the worst to get an academy award
This movie is an insult to the viewer's intelligence.

I saw this before the Oscar hype and seriously I found it insulting in so many ways.

The movie's name reeks of colonial overtures. Seriously is it so tough to find a name which isn't downright insulting?

While I agree Hindu-Muslim riots are a reality in India what I found to be utterly derogating was a kid of 6-7 yrs portraying Ram with a bow and arrow with a menacing eyes ready to pounce upon younger version of Jamaal.Even more so as the movie portrays somewhat a contemporary (early 1990s) event which is quite well-documented.

Slums are also a hard reality not just in Mumbai but throughout the whole of India. But even there people exist who help each other, share whatever meager things they have with others etc. even though here portrayed as some dystopia where all they do is blind the kids, run brothels etc.

More than the socio-political portrayal this movie takes all the negative things that has ever happened to anyone in India and make it happen to one single person by which it takes poetic license a bit too far and also tests the very premise of probability theory.

ARR has done far more ear-pleasing compositions than what he has done for this stupid movie.

While I can write a research paper dissecting all the plot holes each one of them larger than the rings of Saturn I won't do it as it's already been done by so many people.

And lo!! behold!! we have 8 Academy awards to show while The Dark Knight and The Wrestler doesn't even get a nomination in many of the relevant categories :(
2012-07-29
An overrated movie....
Though the movie was commendable in portraying the real India, but the script was all too dreamy to cast any effect on the viewers. It was clearly evident that it is made by foreign guys who only knew one thing about India that it is poor and poor people abuse. Direction was good and so was the camera work. The kids who portrayed the younger version were so brilliant that you won't believe that they are kids. Though the main character was well chosen but I guess the casting people were too busy on the lead that they forgot to take interest on other characters.The script had too many loopholes but I guess the slum-boy turning to millionaire sympathy saved the movie. Overall it is a nice entertainment with some excellent music score by A.R. Rehman, but don't go expecting too much while watching the movie. Overall I will give only 6/10 to this movie with credits to the lead actor, direction, music and excellent camera work and the producers should blame the script writers and poor casting for loosing the magic figure of 10/10
2009-01-11
D - Highly Overrated. Final Answer. Where's my check?
Here's yet another extremely overrated film from 2008 catered specifically to awards and little else. Color me unimpressed.

While it's not as dire as Benjamin Button or as erroneous as The Dark Knight, Slumdog is certainly not a good film. It's not technically bad, either. It simply exists. It's a movie you watch rather than experience.

I am literally in a state of shock these days at all the films masquerading as high-class or even art when they are riddled with so many *fundamental* mistakes. Screen writing 101...they get that stuff wrong! Not the hard stuff, the simple stuff. How? I am baffled.

Slumdog's story relies damn near entirely on coincidence, which is a hugely detrimental factor when attempting to create audience sympathy. I didn't feel for the kid on the show. I wasn't given a reason to. If that were me on that show, I would have never been asked questions that I just so happened to know the answers to by chance. This kid just so happens to know the answer to the questions he is asked and little else. He lucked out! I did not sympathize with him, I envied him! I simply could not put myself in that situation due to it's complete insanity and lack of realism.

The search for the girl is introduced rather late, and before then, there isn't much to root for in this story. So essentially, you can begin watching this film at that point and completely understand the plot and miss nothing of importance.

The fact that the kid had one question left was not properly communicated to the audience, which diluted the suspense of the situation.

The fragmented nature of the story doesn't make it easy to understand the narrative, even when the concept alone creates the plot beats for you. This film seems to go out of it's way to make things extra-complex, as though it's trying to cover up something that's lacking...

Another thing that jumped out and bothered me...there are plenty of scenes that simply have nothing to do with the kid on the game show...or scenes that take far too long to get to the necessary bits of info that we need. It plods around for quite some time as if it's trying to make up for something that's lacking...

I also do not enjoy the new-age, pointlessly over-stylistic directing style employed here. It was distracting, perhaps to cover up something that's lacking...

When something, *anything*, is not right, you look at the fundamentals. This is true in everything from football to film-making. Without knowing, or by simply ignoring the fundamentals, you end up with horrendously flawed films such as this, The Dark Knight and Benjamin Button. And what's really sad is that these are the most highly-praised films of last year.

When did the standards drop so low? Did I miss a meeting? And can I still vote?
2009-03-15
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