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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
An energetic, stylish and engaging fairytale that has enough about it to cover the main weaknesses it has while you are watching
This film came to the UK on a wave of Oscar hype and critical praise and I was looking forward to see it even though the reasons "why" it was good seemed a bit vague to me. On one hand it seems to be set in the gritty poverty of India, with descriptions of some very unpleasant scenes but then, on the other hand it was described as being uplifting and the feel-good movie of the year. I was curious how this conflicting information resolves itself within one film without off-balancing it.

The overall sweep of the film is very much a rag-to-riches story with love being the real heart of the film even if "money" (or a game-show for money) is the narrative driver and essentially it is modern day fairytale. In this regard it is an excellent film because you are engaged throughout, are totally on the side of the main characters and ultimately the viewer would give anything if they could only end the film happily. In this way it is uplifting and (ultimately) a really cheering film that is worth seeing with an audience because it is one of those things that unites an audience with a common feeling of cheer and goodwill. The method of delivery really helps the plot work because it is colourful, frantic and stylish.

I really enjoyed the fragmented time structure that uses the re-watching of the Millionaire questions in the police station as a trigger for flashbacks. This means we are gripped by several threads/times rather than it being a straight flow. It is not an amazingly unique device but the manner of it being put together prevents it ever being clumsy or obvious by how it transitions from one time to the other. Speaking of delivery and style, the film is understandably an Oscar contender generally thanks to its upbeat nature (after darker material last year and the current downturn in the world, Oscar probably will look for some feel-good stuff) but the areas I think it stands a great chance are those of cinematography, editing and direction. I say this because visually the film is a treat. It captures the colour of India with great camera work that puts us right in the scene. An example is the early chase through the slum, with a frantic camera, plenty of colour (in terms of palate, places and people) and a great visual style with the sun hitting the camera from above as it moves and other effective devices. With this much movement in the camera throughout the film, the editing is key in making these scenes work and it is excellent throughout – even putting the subtitles in a stylish and arresting fashion which helped sell the use of Hindi but does also match the style of the film more than standard text would have. As director Boyle delivers on all this and his use of music is great as well. It does feel like we have the grit and style of City of God but yet also the warm uplifting story of the very best the "underdog" genre can provide.

That it achieves this is a testament to how well the film is delivered because it does have to overcome the fact that the majority of the film presents us with a terrible world of poverty and suffering and then gradually pulls the main characters out of it. This is a problem that the delivery covers but ultimately the viewer is left with some fairly harrowing realities that haven't gone away by the end of the film. I totally understand those who love the film unquestioningly but I do agree with those that take pause on this issue and note that it is an aspect of the film that really doesn't stand up in the cold light of day. You see, it is gritty and it is unpleasant and, although not based on a true story, this is a reality in our world and to see so much of it in a film that ultimately leaves you feeling good about life and happy that everything worked out alright is not a mix that sat particularly well with me. It isn't helped by the dance number over the end credits, which involved lots of people and pushed the "isn't everything great" idea more than the proper conclusion of the story did. I didn't like this part of the credits for this reason and also it would have been nice to see a film based in India that didn't feel it had to "do" Bollywood.

The cast mostly play to the "fairytale" side of the film more than the grit, although the young children are very impressive in the first sections of the story. Patel took a minute to grow on me but, although not the most charismatic of performers, he is really steady as the underdog who is driven. Kapoor is a great villain, driven by a hate that says a lot about the class system in place. Pinto is stunning and has a much stronger presence than Patel. Khan works the investigation scenes well, which was important as these are where the story is told from. There are no real weak links in the performances – the fairy-tale nature of the tale means everyone has to focus on that side of it but they are still good.

The film is not as perfect as you will hear but it is still very good at what it does. It is a wonderfully stylish and slick romantic fairytale that is cheering and uplifting but of course this does give the slight problem that it is a stylish, slick and uplifting film that features horribly real images of cruelty and poverty. It doesn't manage to reconcile this but it is strong enough to make you ignore this for the vast majority of the time, leaving you tense, hopeful and weepy.
2009-01-01
Over the top, unrealistic and unneeded
I think this movies is doing well just because of the shock value; the revelation of violence/poverty in India to the western world. Now, i would have overlooked this fact(in fact i did, for movies such as city of joy) if the plot of the movie hadn't been so unrealistic and bland.

Seeing this movie reminded me of another movie The Color Purple. There is lot of talk in the forum about the movie portraying all African American men as sexists, abusive and mean(not surprisingly most of it comes form African Americans). SM portrays a similar picture of India only way worse. Now, I like hardcore realism as much as anyone and an not denying these things happening in India.

The plot of the movie is universal and could have worked in any country or culture. Imagine this movie is directed by a french or Canadian guy and is set in America and the protagonist is an African American woman. Her parents get killed in a race riot in Alabama. She hitches a ride and ends up in the streets of new york where she works as a hooker being beat up by pimps and cops( And all this has to be shown repeatedly in the most gory fashion) She then goes on to the TV show to find her long lost boyfriend. This may very well have worked but It wont be as exotic or have won as many Oscar nominations as seeing it happen to an Indian, Chineese or Thai.

Like i said earlier i would have overlooked the Gross "exploitation of poverty" if it scored well on other aspect. Now, the plot is very interesting and i was really looking forward to seeing it. But the scenes and the stories behind each of the answers(which should have been the charm of the movie) are exceedingly unrealistic. I cant suspend disbelief and imagine that a blind beggar child in Bombay would know Benjamin Franklin is on a $100 bill, or Salim would know that he was holding a colt revolver, or Jamal would be able to pick up good enough English to pass as a tour guide.

Overall i found this movie to be a disappointment except for the music.
2009-01-26
This movie is a necessary fake!!
Other than the two little ones who play Jamaal and Salim at their infancy, everything else in this movie is so fake!! Everybody speaks English!! American tourists who just had their merc stripped off give out another 100 bucks(are they stupid?)!! On one hand the movie is set in the dirtiest and most vicious of places in mumbai, on the other hand it has the noblest of all concepts, the Hollywood version of romance!! Other than the two toddlers, the rest of the actors playing the two brothers at different stages in their lives have "Non Resident Indian" stamped over their faces!! Young wannabe criminals don't look like Salim does, neither do they carry colts?!! In beggar camp Latika, while crushing red chillies, wears rubber gloves?!? Well she wasn't exactly doin the dishes in her kitchen was she??

The movie says that the makers took the worst of India in one hand and Hollywood in another and decided to bridge the gap!! But the gap is just too big for one person or a whole generation of people to bridge!!

I did like the youngest of the actors though, the movie remained palatable till they were around!!

I also hope this movie does something to draw the attention of the world to how people in some parts of the world live in abject poverty, don't know what, if at all anything, that will result in though.
2009-03-11
A modern fairy tale...for the ages
I had heard some grumbling about this movie being overrated, and until about halfway through the movie, despite enjoying myself, I was willing to give it maybe 9 stars out of 10. But then it became more than the story of a couple of kids from the slums - it became a great retelling of two ancient stories: the kid from humble beginnings who makes history, and the boy who gets the girl, loses the girl, and...well, let's not spoil it, shall we? The second half, as we see the protagonists mature, combined with the climactic finale of the game show, is easily one of the best pieces of film I have ever seen in my life.

Yes, Slumdog Millionaire is incredibly unrealistic. Let's be frank, even giving generous leeway for coincidence, there is no way this could have happened. The women featured in the movie are nearly always perfectly pretty; the prominent usage of perfect English is extremely unrealistic; there is just no way Jamal's life could have worked out in such a way that he would know the right answers.

But if you think this is a criticism of the film, all I can say is that I'm really quite sorry for how seriously you take yourself. Great stories are not about the real world; great stories tell us about a world that could be, and make it seem almost as real to us as the world we live in. Slumdog Millionaire is a fairy tale for the ages, and for all its unrealism, is an uplifting and inspiring story of determination, love, and destiny. While I would say that I am often too eager to cut films some slack and give them 10 out of 10 just because I enjoyed myself thoroughly watching them, I have no qualms about giving Slumdog Millionaire a perfect 10. I would give it 11 if I could. This is a movie that deserves it.

A side-note on issues of realism: although I have never lived in India, I visited Kolkata for a week and the slums and way of life I saw were very similar to that depicted in the movie. I come from a multi-ethnic country with many Indians and huge income disparities; I have socialised with both the wealthy elite and the squatters living nearly hand to mouth. I can easily tell you that Slumdog Millionaire is off in many ways. But every timeless tale is not quite accurate, and I don't hear anyone ragging on Snow White or George Washington's cherry tree for their realist faux pas. Slumdog Millionaire is a beautiful story, and while I'm not sure it stands in that class, it is one of the most amazing things to have ever been filmed. Watch it.
2009-01-17
Slumdog Millionaire with 8 Oscar nominations? Huh?
Last night we went to see what the fuss was all about.

While Slumdog is fairly entertaining, I found the overall package to fall far short of an "instant classic". My main gripe with this film was that the plot mechanisms were very contrived, in many cases incredibly predictable.

By the time we got to the second flashback, the scene was pretty much set. There will be some horrific disaster or injustice; and then, there will be some miraculous turn of events to contrast with the evil. This formula was repeated again and again; I suppose the thinking was that this was an analogue of the Indian experience itself. I thought that it was simply clumsy and self-serving.

Another annoyance was the injection of Western arrogance into the film; for example, the "three musketeers" scene which of course was just a contrivance to set up the dramatic final question. Two Indian children whose mother had just been brutally murdered, who had just seen a man burned to death in front of them, would be prattling on about the characters in an Alexandre Dumas novel? Really? What in the world was this director thinking? Did he really think that anyone could watch this scene with a straight face?

The subplot with Salim as a gangster was quite unbelievable and discontinuous with the rest of the film. This could have been a good concept for a different film, where this plot could have be more fully developed, but it did not fit well in this movie. Another contrivance, and one that did not work well, I thought it was very awkward.

With that being said, there is still enough entertainment value to rate this film 6 stars. It was worth the matinée price that I paid, but I am not certain it would have been worth full admission.

Best Movie of the year? Spare me. That outcome simply shows how meaningless the Oscars have become.
2009-03-01
The Sickness
It feels as if I have been hit with a terrible, incurable disease. Like the elephant man, who's abnormalities awakens fear and anger in the crowd. How can something be like this? It's not supposed to be like this.. but.. so things turned out.. 8 Oscars can not convince me.. - I laughed my way through Slumdog Millionaire. All my high hopes and expectations – which dramatically had increased the last couple of months - seemed to drop on the floor simultaneously with the movie's unbearable plot (or lack of plot..). It was as if my soul and heart got torn out of my body, leaving a dry, cynical scalp of skin and a hard, mean laughter. The sickness.

As a big fan of Milk, I expected a true masterpiece from the hands of Danny Boyle – something amazing it had to be, if it could win over Milk. But, oh, Danny Boy, how could you go so wrong… You can't cover an empty, meaningless, predictable plot with beautiful pictures, cute Indian children with glittering eyes and heart throbbing music. The flat characters, the wannabe social realism-coverage and the corny love story WILL shine through.

In advance, I knew that I didn't have to use my brain for this movie, it was okay, I was so ready for this hopeful, happy-go-lucky, beautiful masterpiece. But it bullied happy movies! It made a joke of its genre! It's the most embarrassing stunt in film history I'd ever seen. Even the hideous, awful Danielle Steele-movie I saw a week before, had more depth and realness in it. The slum of Mumbai seemed so joyful and colorful; I thought "yay, this slum I have to visit, they seem so happy", and wow, they sure learn English much faster that any other western country does. There sure is a lot of stereotypes in Mumbai… you're born as one character (Salim was a gangsterkid, too obvious that he would turn out deceiving and cruel) and it doesn't really seem to change.

Through the years I've seen many Bollywood-features and enjoyed their charm and humour: their self-realization of their genre. Clichés in row. But they can bear it, because they are TRUE to their theme: they don't pretend to visualize the hard life in the slum, they don't give a false depth to a character. They admit that they are predictable. But Slumdog Millionaire… what would it tell us? That even if you had a rough childhood under poor, miserable circumstances, you can turn out millionaire? I really don't get it. And I almost threw up during the last scene. "Kiss me" – and then dance the Bollywood dance! Never have I seen anything this embarrassing. I held my hands over my eyes. I couldn't bear it.

After the movie, I missed the last train, and that just made me more angry and miserable. And sick. What is wrong with me, since I feel this way? How can such a horrible film receive this great acknowledgment from high profiled film critiques. It's one of our time's biggest mysteries.
2009-03-13
A Very ordinary movie or may be even less than ordinary...
When suddenly there came a phenomenon which proclaimed India's arrival at the world cinema stage , the cynic in me rubbished the whole thing as a gimmick. The credibility of the academy awards has taken a severe beating due to constant and regular stoop downs over the years.

Take for example Rocky (1976-77) or Training day .Please forgive me but i seriously have my doubts over the claim of Gandhi as an Oscar winner. A Beautiful Mind, American Beauty ....you name the movie and all that is there for us to see is mediocrity. mediocrity in direction,in screenplay writing and most importantly in characterisation and acting. Just like the mannerisms of Kingsley in Gandhi were hardly Indian Slumdog is hardly in touch with the reality which it wants to realistically potray. Firstly, Indians do not speak or talk or laugh or react the way they do in this movie. All their sensibilities, dialouges emotions and reactions are completely western. The movie is melodramatic to the point of being called bollywood jargon. I can bet my life on this that there have been brilliant Hindi movies with brilliant Hindi actors which should have won Oscars but didn't merely because the content they supplied was intrinsically Indian.I would like to compare Slumdog with Khosla ka Khosla . KKG is a new generation mainstream Hindi movie which quite realistically depicts the life of a middle class Indian and his family. their manner of speaking, laughing, their emotions are so honestly depicted that one cannot think otherwise.

Slumdog to be honest is a farce . Not only does it lack honesty but also credibility. It is a typical feel god movie with ordinary performances by most of the cast. Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto are not impressive at all. The success of Slumdog thus once again proves that the Americans cannot treat foreign cinema like it deserves to be. Unless a movie has been made in line with American sensibilities it won't succeed at their award ceremonies.
2009-06-15
Will someone say "The king is naked!" please?
Because he's full frontal nude! This was not a good movie. Simple as that.

Starting from the first scene, my whole enthusiasm was drained off when I saw the cops torturing a guy for doing good in a competition. My mind was boggled. Has there ever been a more ludicrous, more absurd opening in the history of cinema? I mean who shows their script utterly sucks in the very first moments? Even bad action movies don't do that. It felt like a punch. (You thought it was gonna be good because of all those Oscars, eh? Here you go! POW!)

The following sequences where we witness our characters' past were far from being sincere, real, or authentic. I can't believe people compare this to City of God. It felt so... amateurish. Danny Boyle has totally lost his edge. There was nothing impressive. I don't know how to quite put it right, but there was this "We're so happy to be making this film!" feeling all over the movie and it especially didn't work well for the supposed dramatic moments. They were not real, not new, not original. A little bit of Oliver Twist, and some bad humor. Nothing memorable.

And the show... Ah, the show... A vulgar, cheating, lying, conniving bully of a TV show host? Where do they find these ideas? You can't just suspect a competitor of cheating and send him off to be electrocuted! In a place where a TV show like that is being made, these kinda stuff just cannot happen. This is a fact. Nobody can say anything to make it okay. That was the one most stupid character idea ever to be realized on screen.

And they even told about their suspicions to the press without so much as trying to frame him with some lie like they found something on him. How disreputable is that for the show? And is it so incomprehensible to think that maybe he just knew the answers? "Doctors, professors can't go where he went." my a**!!! As if the questions were prepared for geniuses... The first half was all about India and they even had questions with humorous answers that -like the cop said- a 5 year old could answer. This was *very cleverly* written to legitimize people's suspicions of the cheating thing but instead it made the lead guy look like a borderline idiot. And didn't the host think that maybe the guy could make a complaint, or at least talk to the press? Was he gonna cover it up with his strong ties to the police and threaten the media? He's a TV personality for god's sake! Not a made man! Oh god, it was so absurd.

And has nobody warned the writer about the "perfect chronology between the events in the guys life and the contents of the questions" angle was way too off? Too forced? You gotta be a bit more subtle when you're dealing with stuff like destiny since you're trying to make a real movie. Either go crazy and say "In my movie's universe these things are normal." like Woody Allen does, or make it a bit more realistic and reasonable like it was in the movie Crash. This was just lame, childish, BAD writing. Oh and the lead character must have had such a brain, they should kill the guy and study it. He remembers everything! If our brains stored information like that... Man, I don't even what would happen!

And the ending. The *perfectly* thought out ending where the easiest question in the world comes as the last question, just to tie it all up with a not-so-meaningful memory from his childhood. So cheap. The chaotic brother who just can't decide what to be, suddenly goes paladin and he, very quickly, brings a solution to the girl's problems and sets her free, and even handles the communication problem between the lovers just so that they can have the conclusion talk that will wrap the movie up. So cheap. And he kills the boss who, very conveniently, enters the room first. (come on, man... why would a crime boss enter a room like a deer when he knows there's something suspicious going on?) And the third act is done! Writing is that easy guys. And you can even get an Oscar for it.

David Fincher must have been so annoyed... When you can't even trust the Academy, what's the point of the whole awards concept?

Please let's stop this craze of cheering for bad movies just because of their hype! First the Dark Knight and now this. Teenagers go ape**** over horrific stuff like Twilight. What is going on? I don't think I can handle another one.
2009-03-28
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
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