Slumdog Millionaire: You can’t help rooting for it

January 23, 2009

Imagine falling off a running train and slithering down a rocky slope even as swirls of dust and grime envelop you. Most people would land up with a serious hospital bill or at least a broken bone or two. Jamal and Salim, two of the “three musketeers” in Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” just get up, shake off the dust and move on.

It might seem a little unbelievable or incredulous, but in the midst of watching “Slumdog Millionaire” (or ‘Slumdog Crorepati’ as the Hindi version is called), you shake off that nagging feeling and move on with Jamal and Salim, simply because you want to believe in their story. It’s not a believable story and yet the film makes you want to believe.

At least I wanted to.

Boyle’s film, which has wooed the West and is on its way to Oscar glory is this fast-paced, at times thrilling, at times chilling and at times poignant chronicle of one man’s journey.

Jamal Malik, who we first meet as an impish eight-year-old, steals your heart instantly and it is his story that sustains this film. Played in parts by Ayush Khedekar, Tanay Chedda and Dev Patel, Jamal’s journey takes you from the dirt and squalor of Mumbai’s slums to the Taj Mahal and then back again to the city of dreams.

Told in a series of flashbacks, we learn that Jamal, a slum dweller who has won 20 million rupees on the Indian version of the gameshow ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’, has been arrested by the police for fraud.

As the police inspector grills Jamal on how a slum kid could know the answers to such tough questions, Jamal begins to narrate the story behind each question and the answers to them which tell the story of his own life.

Also playing pivotal roles in the film are Salim, Jamal’s elder brother, and Latika, (played in part by Rubina Ali, Tanvi Lonkar and Freida Pinto). To narrate any more of the story would be an injustice to anyone who hasn’t already watched it.

Like I said earlier, this film is not entirely believable. How can two poor kids who have hardly been to school and live on the roads speak such perfect English? It doesn’t fit in with the story and jars a bit. Also, how can a twelve-year-old kid get away with firing a revolver at someone?

This is also not an easy film to watch. I admit I cringed at the sight of the piles of garbage and the kids picking up rags. The portrayal of the beggar mafia, the flesh trade and the crime on the streets is something we hear about and see all the time. Yet, when you see it on celluloid, that reality hits you hard.

What will stay with you at the end of the film though is the overwhelming sense that if you believe, the stars will work in your favour. It is this factor which takes the film to a whole another level. I can’t help but root for this “Slumdog”.

21 comments

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I have watched the movie in Omaha,Nebraska. I grew up in a similar city like mumbai. I don’t think the movie is anywhere close to reality except. There is more buzz that it really is !

Posted by Krishna | Report as abusive

You have to love the scene when Jamaal jumps into a pile of shit to not miss meeting Amitabh Bachchan.
That is definitely gross but believable!

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

The condition of India’s poor may be horrible, but please don’t hate the rich for it! Please don’t hate the politicians, or the police, or the government!

Work towards the betterment of all people without the hatred.

I’ve seen the movie, I’ve read the opinion columns, I’ve read the news… and I see people criticize one another… instead of engaging in a meaningful dialogue on how to help Mumbai’s slum dwellers.

Posted by Bajji | Report as abusive

Great Movie!!

Of course it has made India in Bad light, But good thing is we need to understand that there are many such children doing such little business to take care of their livelihood.

1)First, have to advertise his product
2)identify a prospective customers
3)get an appointment
4)compete with his (BIG)competitors
and so many phases of marketing world…to get an Order.

Interesting thing is that he has to complete all the phases of marketing and get an Order in between very short span of time. What a talent the child has ???

We have heard about many big business men, skilled persons, and very great personalities, the history says many of them started their career in a very simple way. They don’t have any training business schools or colleges or technology providers initially. But in case if they undergone such training in the beginning what would be our countries position now??

Let us help one child per head and change this BAD LIGHT of INDIA. Instead of criticizing this film.

-JaiGanesh

Posted by JaiGanesh | Report as abusive

For all Indians who are nagging about the movie putting a bad spot light on India needs to realize that this movie is a representation of what is actually happening in India. I hate to see fellow Indians running away from this matter as if it doesnt exist. This doesnt solve the problem. They first need to except the problem. Poor beggars plucking their eyes out DOES EXIST IN INDIA !!!!……..and every Indian is aware of it but some are too afraid/”embrassed” to admit it.

a.c

Posted by A.C | Report as abusive

Well,
Indeed, there is a lot of irrealistic facts in this movie.
Like in 90% on the world’s movie production…
What a scoop…

Posted by Rome | Report as abusive

Movies are meant to entertain, and Slumdog Millionaire does entertain. It is an excellent movie – I don’t care it is real or not.

Do we question when James Bond 007 does such unbeleievable stunts?

Kapil

Posted by kapil arora | Report as abusive

Coming from India we should not be ashamed at all. It has very real poverty as depicted in the film. Children are kidnapped and their organs sold. Also for begging purposes. It happens in Europe too! Look at Romania and Poland. The shooting in the film is not credible but is feasible as India do not account for all their population. They just do not have the resources. The unbelievable part is how most people could afford a TV or the winning of the Tv show.

Posted by Aloo Patel | Report as abusive

The movie is just made as a Feel Good Factor for Westerners.
It stands little truth and no grace at all.
Watch it on a pirated disk only to gain insight on the western week and feeble minds and gain no royalty to the movie.

Posted by Ranjeet | Report as abusive

I would suggest do not try to pick up what are the irretional sceans shown in the movie. The thing shown in the movie is the realty of some one who lives in such a meassurable condition. How was the journey of his life. what a person who has come up and learned in his real life experiance. how they are surviving in a city like mumbai.
People who critisize this movie, i would suggest then to travel in general coach of any train in India, after that the person will be very much clear how much this movie worth.
Slumdog deserves oscar.

Posted by Adi | Report as abusive

well, slumdog millionaire is a good movie. i have watched it already and it is a good one. in a movie it doesn’t matter if its real or not, but the thing is, all you have to do is to understand and you’ll see that, in general even the poor can win and has a future if it is meant to be.

i’m from philippines,
and i don’t know if which country is more poor.

great movie and a great story.

it’s all about hard work,determination, and destiny.

Posted by areis | Report as abusive

Its a good movie too watch n according to me spending 200 bugs are worth………..seeing mvies according to realty angle is foolish thing……….u cannt watch even a single mvie if u think they will depict reality…..a movie is made to entertain u for 2-3 hrs…………..not to show a person full life……fact is dis mvie is tottally different frm 1 topiccc love…………….sme u shld watch dis mvie n enjoy

Posted by Piyush Monga | Report as abusive

THE EMPEROR IS NOT WEARIHG ANYTHING
I finished watching the movie with utter disbelief. I enjoyed segments of the movie.(The toilet scene is not defenitely one of them!)But, that is not experiencing and enjoying the movie in its entirety.I am still wondering why so many people can’t help rooting for it. Could it be ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ syndrome? The story is straight from the fantasy world-love,sepration villain, sacrifice, and grand finale! There is one more catch, RS.20 million at stake, LOL. This would have been a ‘GREAT’ hindi movie if there were 10 more songs and at least 5-6 stunt scenes. And replace destiny with one of the Deities; SUPER box office hit.

Posted by Joy Sebastian | Report as abusive

No movie is completely believable. There are few scenes which are not something we would want to believe in this one too. Imagine SRK chasing a Scorpio with a Rickshaw, that isn’t believable either. Still Main Hoon Na was considered a hit.

The essence of the movie is good, destiny. Nobody can stop things from happening if it is destined to and this was portrayed so very well in the movie.

Posted by Balaji | Report as abusive

Over rated, over hyped film.
It is actually a hindi masala movie.

If it is directed by some Indian then you will thrash it.

Posted by Amitava | Report as abusive

This movie is spot-on, when it tries to narrates the real challenges faced by slumdogs in Mumbai at large. They are confronted with all kinds of challenges during their upbringing – the incomplete schooling, communal rioters, lack of parenting, lack of proper shelter, cruelity and insensitivity of the police, the mafias, the prostitution rackets. They are equally talented given an opportunity. You got to live this life to know what it is to be a slumdog. Gr8 job Danny, you deserve all the awards!!!

Posted by Pradeep Engineer | Report as abusive

I felt there was more of lovleen tandon than of danny boyle in the making of the movie. It was just another bollywood kinda movie. The film is all marketing and hype like OSO and many other big banner films. There is just no substance to be a international film.

Posted by satish | Report as abusive

Personally, I loved Slumdog Millionaire, regardless of how “realistic” it really is. What people forget is that all movies have unrealistic elements in them, purely because movies are meant to entertain; they are not autobiographies or documentaries and so are under no compulsion to be “the truth and nothing but the truth”. They are merely the release of someones creativity.Boyle adapted this from a book and it is a difficult story to portray on screen and ,giving credit were its due, he and his team did a fantastic job. Every scene is packed with themes and motivs, and being an Indian, i recognised some of India in it. Of course, there were areas which didn’t show India in the best possible light but there was many more areas which made me very proud to be Indian (Mr. Rahman’s FANTASTIC music definately being one of them).

Posted by Payal | Report as abusive

Hi, Sorry 4 late… Slumdog Millionaire is a movie which is perfectly made, not even a single mistake. The story, screnplay, editing and music are excellent. I have seen this movie twice and trust me it was like watching it again. As movie has bagged lots of awards from all over the world. Today is oscar and I m sure that this movie will continue the magic of cinema. All the best to all the members of this MOVIE..

Posted by Deepak Singh | Report as abusive

Hi!!! this day has proved that every comment that says that this was not a great movie, it was a hype, and there was no substance to be an international film has been proved wrong. Because finally its the victory those who had conceived the idea and made a lovely movie. Let’s see this as a trimph of creativity and art. Great Job Slumdog Millionaire Team… you all were just amazing. Thanks

Posted by Ganesh Iyer | Report as abusive

so many mistakes in this movie, it actually is insulting my intelligence. I’ll go through some of the obvious ones.
1)’who wants to be a millionaire’ is NOT shown live. Whether it is in the US, Australia, Uk etc. The show is pre-recorded.
2)The ‘cricket’ question halfway up the list is a joke. Indians are cricket crazy. 99% would’ve known the answer to that question.
3)The last question is also a joke. A fifth grader can answer that.
4)the old Jamal has no personality. He’s like a one dimensional goofhead. There is no way he could’ve gone past the screening process to make it onto the show.
5)With the toilet scene, he could’ve tried to climb out of the toilet instead? I think any kid with half a brain would’ve thought about that first.

Posted by Ky | Report as abusive