Slumdog Millionaire Shines for India

What a film! I finally got around to watching Slumdog Millionaire last night and have to say that for once, the film exceeded all the hype that’s been thrusted on us since its release.

Quite uncharacteristically for a Gujarati to shower superlatives on someone else, but I have to break tradition and insist that we salute Danny Boyle for his direction, AR Rahman for a beautiful sountrack, and of course, Vikas Swarup for writing the book in the first place.

I can understand the reasons that some people – mainly Indians – are kicking off about the film – it shows India’s shameful poverty like no other film has – and in these times of intoxicating economic growth – I can see why they’d want a better narrative to portray India, but let’s not forget that a third of the world’s poor reside in the motherland.

Not surprisingly, those non-Indians who’ve watched the film – who i’ve spoken with over the past few weeks, have all said that despite the poverty depicted, they’d love to visit India.

Even if Slumdog walks away without winning any Oscars this year, this film will have done more for India and Bollywood than the past two decades of films (since Gandhi), heavy investment for the Incredible India advertising campaigns, her cricketing prowess, and diplomacy of India’s elite foreign service, all bundled together!

I recently interviewed Kishore Lulla, CEO of Eros, which is India’s most successful film production and distribution company, for a book I’m writing on Indian business going global, and it was he, who prophetically said that India’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon would come from nowhere – a total suprise at a totally unexpected time. Looks like he may have been right.

Slumdog, at least in my opinion, should surpass the impact of Crouching Tiger, as it speaks volumes not just about the Indian film industry but for modern India as a whole, unlike its Chinese equivalent, which for me demonstrated how far its industry had come along. In the case of Slumdog, its not Danny Boyle, Anil Kapoor, or even Dev Patel that’s on show, the story is simply about India.

Brilliant film, a must see for anyone interested in India.

  • http://www.markhillary.com Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

    Agree with you. A lot of people seem concerned about the “slum chic” aspect of this film, but it’s a great fable and really does showcase India…

  • Leena

    It is a movie which keeps you stuck to you chair for 2 hours, interested to go to the next shot of question and how he answered it ..what was his experience..what he went through…It is the movie of the year ..No doubt! By opposing a beautiful work by some story writer, director or actors our people are showing their poor taste..and making a clown of themselves in front of the foreign media.

  • Balu

    I really liked the film too….However, I did feel a couple of scenes are a bit exaggerated/flawed.

    1) The riot scene could possibly give a wrong impression that Muslims are persecuted in India which is clearly not the case. Terrorist attacks, Amarnath, and much more prove that point. And at least they could have showed Ram a little more properly. Had an image of Mohammed been shown, u can bet Danny Boyle would be hiding for cover now due to some fatwa.

    2) When the car is broken apart and the boy gets hit by the Indian police or security guart, the american family gives him a $100 bill saying “I’ll show you what America is about”. That seems a bit far fetched (as if America is all about giving $100 bills to kids).

    But apart from the 2 above criticisms, it was definitely worth watching and had a definite feel-good factor at the end. (and many others Indians I asked, felt the same way, esp. about point #1)

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  • Ketan

    I just watched the film and .. dayum .. what a film it was !!!!
    I have to totally agree Ms Leenaji’s comments … I too felt those scenes could be mis-construed .. and absolutely right .. if #1 had flipped and depicted Mohammed and Muslim’s in that light, then all of those related to the film would have had some sort of threat against them, and probably we would have seen burnings of the film n flags .. like we have seen before !! The film may have got even more publicity … but sadly all for the wrong reasons.
    Anyway, as an ending, I thought the film was brilliantly made, had me stuck in my seat anticipating the next question and wondering what the experience could be that gave him the answer !! A film that run a whole Bunch of emotions through me whilst watching !! A 110% film. Well done Danny, cast and crew.

  • http://hindudharma.wordpress.com/ B Shantanu

    Vikas: You and your readers may find this alternative perspective interesting and thought-provoking:

    http://satyameva-jayate.org/2009/01/22/on-slumdog-millionnaire-prejudices-guest-post-by-saurav-basu/

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