Couch Pumpkin: Sofa Adventures
News and reviews for the big and small screens…where potatoes fear to tread.

Slumdog Millionaire

I saw this last week but have been so busy I was unable to put down my thoughts until today! Sometimes with over hyped movies I’m disappointed when I eventually see them (*cough*dark knight*cough*) but I have to say – Slumdog really lived up to my expectations.

Not that this is surprising, given that Danny Boyle is a damn good director. In the summer I rewatched his fantastic homage to classic sci-fi, Sunshine – a completely different film in terms of content, but using some of the same editing techniques that are the hallmark of his slightly unconventional style. A stylish style, I should say. The man is a true chameleon, though. Slumdog reminded me of urban crime character movies like Tsotse and City of God, shot through with the essence of India. That Boyle was able to render this as well as he did futuristic thriller in Sunshine, zombie horror in 28 Days Later and gritty drugs flick in Trainspotting suggests an enviable flexibility.

What was great about the film was its ability to splice the romantic (somewhat sappy) love story with what was essentially a fairly heartbreaking tale about how three orphans were basically broken down by society. True, only Salim ended up dead – but Latika’s life of (implied) prostitution and abuse would surely leave more than physical scars. I found the darkest elements of the tale disturbing – particularly the mutilation of the orphans by creepy weirdo Maman. Yet somehow I came out feeling fairly happy! Jamal was an adorable character who somehow managed to rise above the greed and materialism that sucked Salim down, and the happy ending didn’t seem clichéd but rather deserved.

A.R. Rahman’s soundtrack was good, and brought back memories of an eventful school trip to the short lived musical Bombay Dreams, of which his music was the only redeeming feature (apart from Raza Jaffrey stripping off at various points…). The colourful visuals were delightful, especially the use of yellow. I was also interested to see whether Boyle would include a similar motif to his use of right arms in Sunshine (the symbolism of which I have yet to see explained, but I don’t think I’m making it up…). I think it could be the use of eyes as a prominent image – again, not sure of the symbolism. Or this could also just be in my mind.

Having been slightly sceptical beforehand, I can now see why some Indians have a problem with the film given that many of those involved in production were not Indian, and the country is portrayed as fairly corrupt (Jamal getting beaten and even electrocuted by the police for example, or the way they were just abandoned after their mother got beaten round the head). I can’t comment on whether this is accurate or not. However, I don’t think this will stop the Academy piling up the awards!


3 Responses to “Slumdog Millionaire”

  1. It was a really good movie

  2. Yeah, I loved it too!! … What I loved was that it *did* present India as I’ve experienced it [and I’ll speak for my Father who was born and brought up there – Hyderabad rather than Mumbai though].

    Some people who have voiced criticism, namely Amitabh Bachchan ( the super-famous legend of Bollywood who was referenced in the autograph scene and was the first host of the Indian ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’) I believe are too close to place judgement, taking offence easily and thus have a somewhat skewed notion of the movie’s intention. They perhaps feel it is glamorising/ exploiting India’s slums and presenting the country as “corrupt” but this is not so. Yes, it gives an insight into elements of the dark side – the impoverished, corrupt and depraved – but always tempers this with the brilliant, uplifting, ever-hopeful India. I like that it doesn’t shirk the reality of the exploitation of kids – giving them babies to hold as they’ll earn more from it – I’ve seen it in Pakistan! Kids on the roadside begging for change thrusting their babe at your windscreen. As you say, this isn’t what you come away with, you come away with a sense of a vibrant city full of all kinds of possibilities and indeed struggles on the way… Though perhaps unfair to reduce it such.

    I felt bad for Boyle having been directed such criticism as he seems like such a lovely guy and brilliant filmmaker and you can tell he adores the place and his intention was never to display Mumbai as anything but a giant throbbing life heart. That makes little sense.

    Anyway, rambley ramble… watch this cos it’s awesome

    love xxx

    • That vid is incredible! What a smart guy! Thanks for the link, and thanks so much for reading 🙂 I’m glad that you felt the film represented what you’ve seen. I didn’t want to make too many judgements on that front because I haven’t actually been there; on the other hand if someone made a film about London I certainly wouldn’t want them to gloss over the realities of the city even if they were outsiders.

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