Ah, the much-loved, much-hated movie. I wanted to watch Delhi-6 (Dilli-6? no idea...) sunday morning, but half the movie was over (@ the singleplex) by the time I woke up (@ home). Short of money, and slightly groggy, I decided to watch Slumdog instead.
This is one of those strange movies (no movie synopsis here. If you don't know what the movie is about, crawl back under your favourite rock and don't come back.), which has so many elements from so many famous and forgettable films, coming together to form predictable cinema (if taken scene-by-scene), and yet, something clicks, and it becomes a very good, a very memorable movie.
The plot device of using the questions of the game show to tell the story of Jamal's life, all the while showing how various experiences during his life give him many of the answers of the questions of the game show is quite innovative. It is a delightful play on the serendipity and coincidences in his life amalgamating with his will, wit and can-do, opportunistic spirit, and will definitely frustrate all those hyper-logical people out there! (personal beef, nya-nya-nya!)
Most of the acting is very ordinary, even wooden. What really lifts the movie is the acting of the kids and the adolescents. They are so natural, so effervescent, so refreshing that you feel every emotion they express, and a few they don't. The music is not Rehman's best, by far; I'd rather listen to Delhi-6 (Dilli-6?). The locations are well chosen, and shot beautifully. Bombay is anyway my favourite city, so there's lots of bias here. :)
The controversy surrounding the movie seems needless; the scenes showing poverty, riots, exploitation, torture etc are quite believable, and quite possibly, a reflection of the lives of thousands of Bombay-ites; and a cold, hard look at the realities the rest of us desparately try to ignore. In fact, if anything, the director has tried to go as far as possible, and at the same time, handled the issues very sensitively. Maybe it makes one uncomfortable, makes one throw up the popcorn, but then, it makes one realize the thirst and hunger which exist outside our personal oases.
Other sundry issues:
- The suspension of disbelief required to swallow that Jamal (adult) is Indian matches that of a Govinda movie.
- The "Jai Ho!" video at the end is horrible. Neither of them can dance, or even emote to the lyrics, and the choreography is downright scary.
- The climax! the climax! First Dev.D and then Slumdog! (and, I hear, Delhi-6 (Dilli-6?) too!) Pathetic! Still waiting for a good movie with a decent climax this year.
I know I have berated the movie more than praised it.* Yet, it is recommended viewing 'cuz:
- It is well-written, well-shot, and well-directed.
- It takes a unflinching look at the underbelly of Bombay without getting all wail-y, preachy, arty on you.
- The kids are superb.
Finally, congratulations to Slumdog Millionaire for winning all those Oscars.
*Disclaimer - I write pathetic reviews, mostly because I am a fault-finder at heart. So if the movie is good, I say so at the start, and spend the next few hours gleefully splitting hairs. Ha!