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Slumdog Millionaire

, Is Slumdog Millionaire worth the praise?

 
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> Slumdog Millionaire, Is Slumdog Millionaire worth the praise?
Sharmila-Sweet
post Feb 18 2009, 05:24 PM
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Is Slumdog Millionaire worth the praise?

Matthew Schneeberger

January 29, 2009 17:17 IST
Last Updated: January 30, 2009 15:38 IST

Sitting inside a crowded movie theatre in Nariman Point, South Mumbai [Images], surrounded by other pasty-skinned foreigners and a few overtly wealthy Indians, I was forced to stifle an audible groan.

"What will we survive on, Jamal?" Freida Pinto [Images] had asked.

"Love," Dev Patel [Images] had replied.

Enough was enough. For an hour and a half (and for Rs 250), I had watched a right proper Brit and a middle-class Mumbaikar stumble through cheesy dialogue, all the while pretending to represent the Mumbai slums.

'It's official,' I thought. 'Slumdog Millionaire is massively disappointing. It's inauthentic and vain. And it's making a mockery of Hollywood's annual awards season.'

The realisation saddened me because I tried hard to like the film. Desperately, in fact. From the moment I had first heard of acclaimed director Danny Boyle's [Images] plan to shoot a movie in India, I positively swooned.

'My India, my Mumbai, no longer a crude caricature!' I had gushed. 'The world will finally see her as she is!'

I told all within earshot how badly I wanted to see Boyle's masterpiece. I made a Slumdog Millionaire [Images] poster my desktop computer's wallpaper and compulsively watched and re-watched the film's two minute trailer.

During the horror of 26/11, while Western film critics instructed the laity to 'see Slumdog Millionaire in order to better understand this benighted Asian metropolis', I consoled myself by conjuring up images of packed American theatres, where attentive US movie-goers could receive a genuine taste of Mumbai.

So when Indian friends pronounced themselves 'woefully underwhelmed' with the 'overrated' film, I dismissed their opinions and instead turned to glowing reviews in the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal and others.

"Ingrates," I secretly said of Slumdog's Indian critics. "Finally, someone has shown you the heart of your own city, the city you thought you knew. How dare you pass judgement! See the steady stream of awards? The four Golden Globes? Pick up a copy of the New York Times and read what Danny Boyle has done for you!"

In the months leading up to Slumdog's India release, I continued to describe it in only the most flattering of terms: 'the ultimate underdog film', a 'mad-cap, life-affirming tour of modern India', 'Danny Boyle's Ode to Mumbai' and a 'high-paced primer on life in Asia's largest slum'.

And, despite the temptation of easy available pirated DVDs, I waited for the official India release, hoping for the full 'movie-going' experience. I was prepared to be blown away. Really and truly, ready for blast-off.

But, from the start, during the torture scene, which itself was painful to watch, something didn't feel right. Maybe unrealistic expectations had siphoned away my enjoyment. But countless times before I had entered a movie theatre with high expectations, yet left completely satisfied.

Maybe living in India had dulled some of Slumdog's romance. But I know a Delhi-based German expat who calls it the 'greatest film ever made'. It's just that, ultimately, I found Slumdog Millionaire to be decidedly average. An earnest, talented outsider's cursory glance at Mumbai slum-life. But the best film of 2008? Worthy of all the awards and accolades that Hollywood has to offer? Hardly.

And why in the world has Simon Beaufoy been awarded best screenplay at the Golden Globes? It's terrible, worse than bad, more full of holes than a block of Swiss cheese.

Some argue that it's not a documentary, just a movie. I understand. My complaints with the screenplay have nothing to do with the coincidences or the question-and-answer inspired flashbacks. Those were cute. They drove the story. They were digestible.

It was the absurdity of slum-kids knowing all about Samuel Colt, the completely inauthentic (and clich�d) call-centre scenes, the bizarrely callous game show host, the indifferent studio audience, the implausibility of a hardened Mumbai gangster asking for a sandwich, the doubtful CST rendezvous (Ever seen CST at 5 pm? The phrase 'needle in a haystack' comes to mind), the ubiquitous Queen's English, the improbability of a fully-clad mini-Ram ready to wage war on Mumbai's Muslims. But, most of all, it was the disastrous performance of the lead actor, Dev Patel.

For starters, his Jamal couldn't be any more British if he tried. Apparently, having brown skin was the only pre-requisite for taking on the role. Never mind the accent. What resulted, naturally, was a completely unbelievable character. Every single thing he did rang hollow: every piece of dialogue, every bit of action, everything. Let's be honest. Dev Patel wouldn't last five minutes in a Mumbai slum.

And to those of us half-way acquainted with the city's seedier side, Patel's naivete dragged down the movie, and was annoyingly bothersome throughout, like a broken tooth.

I found it impossible to feel emotionally invested with the main characters. All the way up to the final kiss, I truly did not care what happened to Jamal or to Latika. And I'm as sentimental and sappy as the next guy. It's just that this love story didn't work.

That's not to say that Danny Boyle achieved nothing here: the shots are interesting, the action frenetic, the soundtrack masterfully married to the narrative, and so on. Plus, in many ways, I respect what the film unveiled by peeling back Mumbai's epidermis and peering inside.

Yes, despite what the most zealous of naysayers claim, India's problems are real and manifold: extreme poverty, communal violence, child beggary, painful vestiges of the caste system, to name a few. And all of these exist even in modern, urban India, the India of all those Western magazines profiles, the India of business process outsourcing and information technology.

So it's good that someone has held up a mirror to remind India that, yes, you've come far, but that you have a long way to go, too.

Still, these are weighty, charged issues, perhaps best not hastily reproduced and distilled by a mere passer-by. Boyle readily admits he has no great knowledge of, intimacy with or insight into India, though today he's quite complimentary of the city so responsible for his recent fortune.

Before seeing the movie, I thought those who claimed that it portrayed India in a negative light were being ridiculously defensive. Having seen it, I understand where they are coming from. Yes, Mumbai has squalor and violence and cruelty. But it has great humanity and brotherhood and character, none of which were adequately represented in the film.

One of the first negative reviews of Slumdog I read was from the blog The Great Bong, who absolutely lacerated it. In it, the blogger wrote, "Well yes these things do happen in India. However the problem is when you show every hellish thing possible all happening to the same person. Then it stretches reason and believability and just looks like you are packing in every negative thing that Westerners perceive about India for the sake of crowd pleasing."

He goes on to propose a film about an outlandish string of events happening to an African-American boy in the US, and says, "Even though each of these incidents have actually happened in the United States of America, I would be accused of spinning a fantastic yarn that has no grounding in reality, that has no connection to the 'American experience' and my motivations would be questioned, no matter how cinematically spectacular I made my movie. At the very least, I wouldn't be on 94 percent on Tomatometer and a strong Oscar favourite."

He's right. Say an Indian director travelled to New Orleans for a few months to film a movie about Jamal Martin, an impoverished African American who lost his home in Hurricane Katrina, who once had a promising basketball career, but who -- following a drive-by shooting -- now walks with a permanent limp, whose father is in jail for selling drugs, whose mother is addicted to crack cocaine, whose younger sister was killed by gang-violence, whose brother was arrested by corrupt cops, whose first born child has sickle cell anaemia, and so on. The movie would be widely panned and laughed out of theatres.

That, to me, is Slumdog Millionaire: contrived, pretentious, absurd, hollow, inauthentic, a pseudo-statement about social justice. And yet today the film stands on the precipice of Hollywood's highest honour, the Academy Award for Best Picture.

For me, the only authentic aspects of the film were the Hindi-driven dialogue and the acting of the slum children, which worked to make the entire slick package palatable.

As for the much ballyhooed end-credit Bollywood number, I left before they finished dancing.

I had seen enough.


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Sharmila-Sweet
post Feb 20 2009, 09:59 AM
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Not everyone is raving about Slumdog Millionaire


Everyone is raving about Slumdog Millionaire, which has bagged quite a few awards and nominations. And the film seems certain to win a couple of Oscar awards.
Yet, there are a handful who feel that the film does not, in fact, deserve the applause.

Shamal Sengupta, who teaches direction at Subhash Ghai's filmmaking institute Whistling Woods in Mumbai, tells us why he disliked Slumdog Millionaire.

Broadly speaking, Slumdog is just an olden-day story, the way the whites or the westerners interpret India. It is an on-your-face look at reality. As an Indian, I know we cannot discard poverty. But there is a way to portray it.

There have been many movies based on Indian poverty. City of Joy was based on (slum) people in Kolkata. Directed by Roland Joffe, the film was a complete misrepresentation of the city. I was horrified with that movie. I can see the same mentality in Slumdog.

Slumdog may not be as bad as City of Joy but I didn't expect this from Danny Boyle. He has a different sensibility, and for him to make Slumdog was a shock. He is one of finest directors I have known. I was greatly disappointed.


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Nidhi
post Feb 22 2009, 01:12 AM
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QUOTE

Broadly speaking, Slumdog is just an olden-day story, the way the whites or the westerners interpret India. It is an on-your-face look at reality. As an Indian, I know we cannot discard poverty. But there is a way to portray it.

There have been many movies based on Indian poverty. City of Joy was based on (slum) people in Kolkata. Directed by Roland Joffe, the film was a complete misrepresentation of the city. I was horrified with that movie. I can see the same mentality in Slumdog.

Slumdog may not be as bad as City of Joy but I didn't expect this from Danny Boyle. He has a different sensibility, and for him to make Slumdog was a shock. He is one of finest directors I have known. I was greatly disappointed.


Let us not direct our ire at the white man, closing our eyes to reality. First of all this story is not the interpretation of a white man but an Indian, Vikas Swarup. Danny Boyle only directed the movie. Why are we so reluctant to face the reality that poverty & Slums are enmeshed in the social fabric of India. Satyajit Ray showed it in plenty & he was a great director too. In my view the movie 'City of Joy' was a good movie. It realistically portrays the torment & suffering of a poor country bumpkin (Om Puri) & his wife (Shabana Azmi) in a city like Calcutta. We are proud Indians who would like to be shown only in glitterati & dazzle a la bollywood masala that is doled out by the dozens. Truth is a bitter pill to swallow & surely we are in no mood to do it.

It took a white man Richard Attenborough to make a great movie on the father of the nation. 'Gandhi' went on to win many awards. I find it odd when people criticise just because something was a creation of a white, black, or brown skinned individual. One could criticise the finer aspects of a movie, that is understandable. Most of us are prejudicial & readily pass judgments without even having seen the movie. Amitabh Bachhan performed laboriously in an English movie called 'King Lear'. This movie did not even see the light of day in most parts of the world. But he put his two bits & criticised Slumdog Millionaire & the white man cornering all the glory.

SDM is an ok movie, nothing remarkable about it. The director has done a good job of interpolating the Q & A with the background life story of the slumdog. I preferred movies like 'Changeling' & The curious case of Benjamin Button. Those were qualitatively far better.

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.The voice of the majority is no proof of justice."
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parag_sankla
post Feb 22 2009, 03:07 AM
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Just like Satyajit Ray (even though he is one of the greatest directors of Indian cinema), SDM is a classic case of Povery Porn. Why show only slums of Mumbai to the world? Is that all India about?


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surhall
post Feb 22 2009, 03:45 AM
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QUOTE(parag_sankla @ Feb 22 2009, 03:07 AM) *

Just like Satyajit Ray (even though he is one of the greatest directors of Indian cinema), SDM is a classic case of Povery Porn. Why show only slums of Mumbai to the world? Is that all India about?



i request to all do not see movie bad name India.
sent email tp PM DR,Manmhon Singh ji.
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Nidhi
post Feb 23 2009, 12:12 PM
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Sour grapes to all those who were so critical of Slum Dog Millionaire. The movie deservedly won laurels & awards in plenty at the Golden Globe, Bafta & now the Academy. At the Oscar's it proved why it was the darling of both the critics & movie goers the world over. The critisism of a few about issues that are irrelevant to the feature, its concept & tecnicalities does not in any way beliitle the 8 oscars it won. Kudos to the SDM team.

This post has been edited by Nidhi: Feb 25 2009, 09:36 AM

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.The voice of the majority is no proof of justice."
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Sharmila-Sweet
post Feb 23 2009, 05:03 PM
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'Slumdog Millionaire' sweeps 8 Oscars
By Aparajita Ghosh
Mon, Feb 23, 2009 14:45 IST

Slumdog Millionaire , an uplifting tale of a slum kid’s rise from rags to riches, swept 8 awards at the 81st Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday evening.

The movie had ten nominations in nine categories (it had two nominations in Best Song category) out of which it won in eight categories, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Music Score, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Song, Best Sound Mixing and Best Adapted Screenplay. It only lost in one category, Best Sound Editing, to ‘The Dark Knight’.

When producer Christian Colson came on stage to accept the Best Film statuette, the entire team of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ – including actors Dev Patel , Freida Pinto , Anil Kapoor , Irrfan Khan , co-director Lovleen Tandon, director Danny Boyle, writer Simon Beaufoy, A R Rahman, the three sound mixers, the child actors – joined him on the podium.






Colson began his acceptance speech by saying: “Thank you so much to the Academy. As you can see, our film was a collaboration between hundreds of people. I'm so happy that so many of them could be with us here tonight to share this moment.”

Anil Kapoor seemed particularly ecstatic and held the Oscar up in his hand when Colson passed it to the actor.

Earlier at the ceremony, A R Rahman won two Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Song (Jai Ho). Resul Pookutty shared his Oscar with two colleagues for Sound Mixing.

Accepting the award, Resul said: “I come from a country and a civilization that (has) given the universal word. That word is preceded by silence, followed by more silence. That word is "Om." So I dedicate this award to my country. Thank you, Academy, this is not just a sound award, this is history being handed over to me.”

The evening saw a breathtaking performance from A R Rahman who sang a medley of his two nominated numbers ‘O Saya’ and ‘Jai Ho’.

Hosted incredibly well by Hugh Jackman – who sang and danced – the evening turned out to be a gala event with dazzling razzmatazz of tinsel town. Kate Winslet won the Best Actress for ‘The Reader’ while Sean Penn won Best Actor for ‘Milk’. Those who had expected Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) to win the Best Actor trophy – as much to hear his off-the-cuff acceptance speech as for his performance – were in for momentary shock. However, Sean didn’t forget to mention Mickey in his acceptance speech.

As expected, Heath Ledger won the posthumous ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar for playing The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. The Australian actor’s mom, dad and sister accepted the award in what turned out to be an emotional moment for the entire gathering at Kodak Theatre.

The Best Supporting Actress award went to Penelope Cruz.

Of the Brangelina couple, neither won. The Best Animated Feature went to ‘Wall-E’ while Japanese film ‘Departures’ won in the Best Foreign Language Film category.



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parag_sankla
post Feb 23 2009, 05:09 PM
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QUOTE(Nidhi @ Feb 22 2009, 10:42 PM) *

Sour grapes to all those who were so critical of Slum Dog Millionaire. The movie deservedly won laurels & awards in plenty at the Golden Peacock, Bafta & now the Academy. At the Oscar's it proved why it was the darling of both the critics & movie goers the world over. The critisism of a few about issues that are irrelevant to the feature, its concept & tecnicalities does not in any way beliitle the 8 oscars it won. Kudos to the SDM team.


Anti-Indians are very happy now. The western world has once again proven that their vision of India has not much changed from the "Country of elephants, snake charmers and slums". It is a very perverted case of poverty porn and now some Britishers are making millions (may be billions) by making a story by ridiculing the slums of Mumbai.

Shame! Shame! Shame!


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behenji.turned.mod
post Feb 23 2009, 07:57 PM
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i found the movie boring...
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desai2rn
post Feb 25 2009, 04:27 AM
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QUOTE(parag_sankla @ Feb 23 2009, 05:09 PM) *

QUOTE(Nidhi @ Feb 22 2009, 10:42 PM) *

Sour grapes to all those who were so critical of Slum Dog Millionaire. The movie deservedly won laurels & awards in plenty at the Golden Peacock, Bafta & now the Academy. At the Oscar's it proved why it was the darling of both the critics & movie goers the world over. The critisism of a few about issues that are irrelevant to the feature, its concept & tecnicalities does not in any way beliitle the 8 oscars it won. Kudos to the SDM team.


Anti-Indians are very happy now. The western world has once again proven that their vision of India has not much changed from the "Country of elephants, snake charmers and slums". It is a very perverted case of poverty porn and now some Britishers are making millions (may be billions) by making a story by ridiculing the slums of Mumbai.

Shame! Shame! Shame!


I saw SDM. Not a bad movie. Yes the book is written by an Indian, poverty is a reality in India, as it is in many parts of the world. Leaving all that aside, If the same movie was produced and directed by an Indian
as oppose to Brition, would it have got the same recognition.?? I have doubts. Not to take anything away
from Danny Boyle or the cast. They made a good movie on a low budget. But awards don't always
tell the whole truth. Be it Oscars of Filmfare.

I just watched Tare Zamen Par, as I had misplaced my dvd. In my view as a movie TZP is far better than SDM. TZP was also an enrty for Oscar, granted in different catagory, but did not get anywhere.









R a m e s h
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Nidhi
post Feb 25 2009, 05:40 PM
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QUOTE(parag_sankla @ Feb 23 2009, 05:09 PM) *

Anti-Indians are very happy now. The western world has once again proven that their vision of India has not much changed from the "Country of elephants, snake charmers and slums". It is a very perverted case of poverty porn and now some Britishers are making millions (may be billions) by making a story by ridiculing the slums of Mumbai.

Shame! Shame! Shame!


Frankly, it would be an insult to pay attention to your post. It's rightful place would be the trash can. Though I avoided your thread on the same subject pretty well knowing your attitude, you still continue to languish in the same mindset & vituperative tone that seems to be a hallmark of your nature. The discussion is about a movie & its finer points. Each one of us have our own likes & dislikes but what has that got to with Nationalism & Patriotism. Since you are on the subject, let me take it a bit further.

All the Anti Indians as per your logic:
1. Vikas Swarup: He is the deputy High Commissioner of the Indian Embassy in South Africa. He wrote the book 'Q & A' which was published in 2005. Seated in the Kodak Theater for the function, he was extremely happy that the movie gave his book recognition & fame. Now the paperback edition is being published in multiple languages. He is prima-facie guilty no 1.

2. The star cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Tanay Chheda,
Saurabh Shukla, Mahesh Manjrekar

3. A.R. Rahman the music director & Gulzar the lyricist as well Resul Pookkutty the sound-mixer.

You could have seen all these people happy & exuberant at the academy functions. Some of those slum kids on stage were thrilled. There were millions of Indians both in India & abroad anxiously watching & hoping that the movie gets the maximum awards. But all of them as per your logic are Anti Indians.

This is what the Fianance Minister P C Chidambaram said: the country of a billion people "adopted" Briton Danny Boyle's film as its own though it "may not be an Indian film".

Monday was a "red letter" day in the history of the country when ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ won as many as eight Oscars with A R Rahman picking up two of them, he said.

That was the Finance Minister who knows the reality like most of us & has no qualms in showering praises about the movie, though it did show the soft under belly of India. Your logic must put him at the top of the Anti India list.

True, you are the most patriotic & nationalistic Indian of all Indians. But look at where you are, in San Francisco, the White Man's land. Seems like you lost confidence in the Indian nation. You showed your appreciation of your native land in the usual way: by getting out of it as soon as you possibly could. Hence I presume you feel embarrassed by all the filth & squalor in which the poor live in India & that which is shown in the movie. Looks like that after this movie you may not be able to face the white man in the street. Those living in Ivory Towers find it difficult to face the ground realities.

It is but a movie, one may like it or dislike it. But does that give you a right to paint all those who feel happy about the movie with an Anti Indian colour?





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parag_sankla
post Feb 25 2009, 08:03 PM
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Good to see that you have come down on personal attack.

My location is not the subject matter here, painting our country in a certain way is. A Britisher comes to India and makes a film on the slums, calls us dogs and then the whole world showers praises on the film. So great!

No one can deny that India does have slums and poverty. Is that the only thing in India? Does only India have these?

It is the Western world's way of looking down upon us, in the same colonial manner.

Calling some one trash is a very good manner. Keep it up.

Jai Hind!

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Aditya Pant
post Feb 25 2009, 08:21 PM
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QUOTE(parag_sankla @ Feb 25 2009, 08:03 PM) *

Good to see that you have come down on personal attack.

My location is not the subject matter here, painting our country in a certain way is. A Britisher comes to India and makes a film on the slums, calls us dogs and then the whole world showers praises on the film. So great!

No one can deny that India does have slums and poverty. Is that the only thing in India? Does only India have these?

It is the Western world's way of looking down upon us, in the same colonial manner.

Calling some one trash is a very good manner. Keep it up.

Jai Hind!

Parag,

I just don't agree with your line of thinking here. The film does not aim to showcase India's poverty. The way I look at it, it celebrates the undying spirit of the poorest of the poor. And that IMO is a positive reflection of India. As for calling us 'dogs', that's also a misplaced objection. Would you have an objection to the word 'underdog' if it is used? It is in the same spirit that the word 'slumdog' is coined by Simon Beaufoy. I think we tend to get very defensive because in some way or the other we're ashamed of our own problems.

The film is recieving praises not because it showcases India's poverty. It is because that it is a feel good film that underscores the point about the rise of the underdog against all odds. In a year marked by some real tough general economic scenario, especially in the West, it is natural for people to take to feel-good films. As a film, though, it is at best an average film but people have taken to it because of its positive message of hope and not because it is 'poverty porn'.

Aditya

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mmuk2004
post Feb 25 2009, 11:31 PM
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Parag,

Calm down a little and watch the movie for yourself. You will have a much more mixed reaction to it than that, guaranteed!!! tongue1.gif

While watching the movie I felt that I was watching a typical hindi masala film, and not a very good one at that. How many Amitabh Bachchan films have you seen where the hero rises against all odds(yes, from the slums!) and triumphs at the end? And if you did not have tears in your eyes and don't adore Amitabh Bachchan, then you aint a true blue-movie-lover from the subcontinent! wacko.gif biggrin.gif The movie itself pays homage to the Amitabh phenomenon, which has, at least in my mind, become synonymous with hindi cinema of a particualar generation.

The fascinating thing about the movie is that an outsider made it...it is indeed amazing that Boyle, who himself claims that he does not know much about Hindi cinema, could make such an archetypal "Bollywood" kitsch and serve it piping hot to the international audience which is so ready to sample different styles of filmmaking now. It is certainly not a subtle film, and there are many films from India that are much more interesting, much for thought-provoking, much-more many things... it is crude and sweeping in its social observation, there is a great deal of gratuitous violence in the movie that is sometimes false, and sometimes frighteningly true.

I think it is creditable, and quite astonishing that Boyle has grasped the typical elements of Hindi cinema and made it work for an international audience without being too self-conciously cerebral or patronising about it.

Aditya, I absolutely agree with the feel-good part of the film... one comment about the film stuck in my mind...don't really remember if it was my friend's original comment or he was relating someone else's comment: He said "What the heck! It was one of the most depressing feel-good movies he had seen in a while tongue1.gif

This post has been edited by mmuk2004: Feb 25 2009, 11:46 PM



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post Feb 25 2009, 11:48 PM
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Aditya, Madhavi

I appreciate and have regards for your views. It is the member in question who keeps hitting on India and Hinduism again and again. Madhavi, you are a senior at HF, Aditya is relatively new. Have a look at the Politics and Religion forums and you will know what I mean.

Parag


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