on 26 August 2011
I was almost put off by a lot of hype trying to connect this film to Bollywood in some way which wouldn't have really been my cup of tea. What Danny Boyle has achieved here, however, is a stunningly vivid and touching film all about ordinary people which should translate to just about every country and culture in the world. A well deserved barrel load of Oscars and nothing to do with Bollywood at all.
Slumdog Millionaire is nothing if not lively; the whole film leaps from one context to another, often with bright colours, sometimes the dark colours of the games show studio, with a lot of chase sequences, train rides, violence, appalling cruelty to children, the development of Mumbai, gangsters and their wealth, and a big dollop of sentimentality. Running through the whole film is the story of three children, two brothers and a little girl who one of them falls in love with, for life. The other brother becomes a gangster, but Jamal, played by the very winning Dev Patel as an 18-year-old (all three children have three actors for different ages), gets onto Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and finds the questions all tie in closely to events in his life. So there's a miracle in there too ... What jars a bit is the idea that winning a huge amount of money allows us all to feel all is well - in our own culture, too, these kind of shows offer so much false hope, but this film actively encourages it. There is no critique of games shows implied at all, really. The other flaw is the way the images, often tilted on their side for 'added interest', are set to a rather insipid score that creates a fairly shallow impression. Although the acting is fine the film is never particularly moving, because the pacing and editing make it all quite superficial. Nevertheless it has an original storyline and releases enough energy to be worth four stars, especially with Patel's youthful charm in the lead, which cannot but have you rooting for him.
I know it's been said a million times already and I hate to sound cliché, but it's a statement that rings true every time you say it. Who would have thought Danny Boyle, a man from Manchester could have created such an award winning phenomenon. Slumdog Millionaire is a film I tried to keep away from as long as possible as I didn't want to seem like a person who jumps on the bandwagon. I guess it was inevitable that I was to see it eventually and tonight was the night. It has remained in my memory for a few hours so far and that lump in my throat has yet to subside. From start to finish I was completely engrossed and I have decided that those saying negative things about this picture are ones trying a bit too hard to steer clear of that dreaded wagon.
So the story itself is based around 3 main characters, 4 if you count the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" host. Jamal the main character starts off in a police station as he is accused of cheating to win the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" big 20 Rupees prize. Determined to prove his innocence to the Police, he starts telling them the stories of situations in his life which taught him the answers to the questions which he has inadvertently remembered for all that time. What we get to see as the game show progresses are a number of different defining events in Jamals childhood that are in one way heart breaking and in another heart warming.
He and his brother Salim remained very close to one another from birth and stuck together after their mother was killed. One night after the murder of their mother, they were sleeping in a container as protection from the rain and they met a girl named Latika. Jamal took this companionship from one of his favourite books and labelled them the Three Musketeers, although they could never remember the name of the third after Athos and Porthos. Salim's relationship is never too favourable towards Latika until they get older and after being split up at the still very early age, they meet up many years later and events get worse and worse with Salim raping Latika.
There are other events that take place which I will not spoil for the sake of your enjoyment, so I will now comment on the other amazing parts of the film. The acting was superb throughout and brought some genuinely surprising choices and showed us what they were capable of. Of course the young and teenage versions of Salim, Jamal and Latika were superb but unfortunately attracted accusations of these Indian child actors being taken advantage of. Whether they were or not doesn't take anything away from their fantastic performances. The adult versions of the three characters are played by the fantastically surprising Dev Patel (Jamal), Freida Pinto (Latika) and Madhur Mittal (Salim). Each delivered an astonishing performance, especially from the wonderful Dev Patel known originally to myself as Anwar from Skins in the UK.
The film was set mostly on location which allowed for the true tragedy of the Mumbai slums to be captured in all their glory. There have been things I've read that accuse Danny Boyle's picture of being demonising of the life in the slums. I don't know how you can demonise actual conditions being shown as they are, if anything I believe this is more complementary of the life in the slums. Although you could imagine it to be a very poor and dirty area, the slums are shot in a way that looks very artistic and in some senses quite beautiful. The soundtrack complements this immensely and I think without such spectacular music behind it, I think I would have had a whole different perspective on the film.
To those steering clear of the film because of its massive award success, I have only one thing to say. You're idiots, the lot of you. This is a beautifully artistic masterpiece that should be enjoyed by all film fans alike. I could talk for hours about the psychological implications of the life suffered by the children in this picture, but I have chosen not too. It's a brilliant film that I know as long as you give it a chance, you will love it.
Slumdog Millionaire is a film that, along with the Booker Prize winning novel White Tiger, attempts to show both sides of India - the light and the dark. It's marketed as a 'feel-good' movie but it doesn't start out that way, as it includes a lot of quite extreme violence, the kind you certainly won't see in feel-good movies like Mamma Mia for example. So the headline in the posters and billboards is a little misleading. What it is is a film that, as with some others directed by Danny Boyle, manages to combine the gritty, earthy reality of life on the streets with an uplifting sense of vibrancy and - in this case - even joy. It's a film about people living in appalling squalour that manages to be exciting and entertaining. The screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, based on Vikas Swarup's novel, is in essence a fabulous tale (or as we tend to abbreviate it, a fable) that is brought to the screen with some excellent camera-work that makes the viewer feel is if they are really down there in the slums of Mumbai. It's made to feel all the more realistic by the inclusion of at least two children who were literally taken from those slums in order to have leading roles in this film. Two brothers grow and develop but while one of them sticks to the straight and narrow, the other crosses over to the bad side, and while they may be living in abject poverty they still have lofty aspirations for the future - one of the many skills director Boyle has is to demonstrate that anybody, no matter how poor, can be ambitious and positive and this is never portrayed in a patronising way.
Mumbai is a city of perhaps 20 million people and most of them want to find not so much a way out, but a way to the top, and the theme of this movie is that of one person's struggle to achieve it (in his own very personal, romantic way) by the somewhat unlikely route of India's version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Basically he wants to find the girl of his dreams, a girl who he has known since childhood in the slums, and the best way to get her attention is to appear on the hugely successful TV quiz show.
I saw this first at the cinema and it was so good I bought the DVD too. It's a fantastic piece of cinematography and direction, there's a real story to it - even if somewhat unlikely - and I think it's one of the few DVDs that is worth owning as opposed to just renting briefly. The film isn't short at exactly two hours, but the deleted scenes on this DVD could all have been included and made it even better. Usually when you see deleted scenes you understand why they weren't included in the final cut; in this case I think the producers decided to stick to a 120-minute limit. If there's ever a 'Director's Cut' version, which could be 150+ minutes long, I would recommend it.
It's not the feel-good movie of the decade, as it is being promoted, but it's probably one of the best movies released in 2009. It fully deserves its 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, and really should not be missed if you haven't seen it already.
on 5 June 2014
I think this is the most depressing movie I have ever watched! I clearly live on a different planet to the people that describe this movie as "feel good". I'm off now to look for a beam and a length of rope.
on 28 December 2008
As a British born Indian, I wanted to see Boyle take on his version of a bollywood film with a good mix of his direction, all the charm that most of Indian films have. Result, a good directorial effort with an Indian version of City of God; far less brutal and replaces that sardonic hardship from City of God to the hopeful dreams of a young boy from the slums, very much a style common in Indian films today.
I've been to India before and seen what this film shows. It doesn't make it less dreary by sugar coating; that's not Boyle's style, he will show what is there and this film depicts India's culture, beauty, depression, poverty, lustre, greed, vengeance, corruption and all the moralities. You might be mistaken into thinking I'm being patriotic but the fact is Boyle has made a very good film, with keeping the actual Indian viewers of this film in mind. He has given it a love story like most Indian films while providing the action and tension that so many Indian-film lovers sitting on corner streets in Mumbai and Delhi will want to see.
I've lived in West London all my life and this is as close to showing India any European film has done in the last 20 years, that includes Bend it like Beckham and Ghandi.
West-Londoner-born, like myself, Dev Patel made his début on SKINS, and excellent UK drama series involving the life of College/Sixformer teens. A good choice since learning an language and accent is easier, but also a familiar face to those who watch Skins. The main focus is on him becoming more than he is, a subtle underdog story that doesn't boast of its pious superiority. He just wants to find the girl, Latika, he met when he was a boy, save her from poverty, prostitution and give her a life she deserves. Along with that, Dev's character known as Jamal Malik has a older brother Salim Malik who cares for money and the high-life, anyway he can get it. It's the Romulus and Remus tale with loads of morality. There are 3 actors per character of Jamal, Salim & Latika, each depicting the 3 main characters at different ages who are excellently cast, cute and innocent from the younger ages; to the older actors who play them as time and chance have made them into what they are now, with their knowledge of the world changing their day-to-day perceptions. Dev's character gets the chance to play on "Who wants to be a Millionaire" in India (Indian Version) with familiar host and legendary Indian actor Anil Kapoor. What could a slum-dog know of the world, more than most. He's graduating from the university of life.
Contrasting, political, brutal, and bitter-sweet. 8.5/10.
on 28 December 2015
The film "Slumdog Millionaire" by the British director Danny Boyle is based on the novel "Q&A" by Vikas Swarup. It is the story of Jamal Malik, a boy who grew up in the slums of Mumbai and who participates in the quiz show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" to find the love of his life again.
We analysed the film in school and recognized positive and negative aspects.What we liked about the film was its good camera work and the fact that you can follow the development of the characters easily and experience their personality. Furthermore, there is a realistic presentation of the Indian slums and there is always a red line of the story. Moreover, the questions that Jamal has to answer evoke memories of his childhood.
What we did not like about the film was that the plot is quite predictable because the title gives a clue about the ending. We expected more tension and the typical Bollywood dance scene at the end did not fit with the rest of the story.
All in all the film is well-presented and based on an interesting idea, but the storyline is predictable because of the title. We think the film is supposed to be an equivalent to the American Dream.
on 14 January 2009
It's been a long time since I've seen a film that's affected me as much as this one has.
The film follows Jamal Malik, an 18 year old slum boy in Mumbai who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'. Jamal has managed to answer the questions correctly and has won 100,000 rupees, but the show ends before he can answer the final question, and whilst leaving the studio Jamal is arrested by the police who accuse him of cheating, claiming that no Slumdog would know the answers to the questions. The film opens with Jamal being tortured, but once the police officers realise that this is not working the sergeant attempts a more civil approach to get Jamal to talk by asking him how he knew the answer to each question. As Jamal explains to the sergeant the experiences in his life that led to him knowing the answers to these questions, we as the viewer see these flashbacks into Jamal's childhood, following his life from 5 years old to now and are given an insight into the slums of Mumbai, and one child's journey through all of it.
The film is incredible, and pulls at every one of your heartstrings. I cried, I laughed, I was biting my nails with tension, covering my face with my hands unable to watch, smiling, frowning - the film is an emotional rollercoaster but never allows you to ponder on any one emotion too long, jumping from place to place, mixing jokes among tears. The soundtrack is perfect, the actors are all very good (the children especially are amazing), the colours on the screen gorgeous, and for 2 hours you feel like you genuinely are transported to Mumbai - it all feels so genuine.
The films low budget and has a certain charm about it I've only found in other low budget films like 'Juno' and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'. It fully deserves everyone of the 4 Golden Globes it won and I wish it every bit of luck with the Oscars next month too. A critic said that this is the `feel good film of the decade' and though I've got my reservations about agreeing (for a feel-good film it spent a hell of a lot of time focusing on the darker, more disturbing parts of life in Mumbai for the slum children) there's no doubting that you will leave the cinema in elevated spirits, and it is nice to have a film end on a positive note for a change rather than the doom and gloom directors usually opt for.
An incredible film I would love to watch again and again - I can't wait till this comes out on DVD.
on 10 October 2009
This film definitely lives up to all of the plaudits that it received at all the award ceremonies it was littered around earlier in the year. The story is genius and the casting perfect. All of the actors bar none put in outstanding performances and there is no doubt a glittering future ahead for the main adult actors. The cinematography and direction of this film are beautiful. Danny Boyle creates an atmosphere that totally immerses you in every scene. The child actors are believable with every word, while the adults have you lapping up their every word. Beautiful locations, harrowing locations - a reflection of India. Beautifully flawed characters - a reflection of money and its impact on the human soul. This movie has now entered my top ten movies of all time! BUY this movie and you won't be disappointed.
on 7 May 2010
Bought this film with high expectations after reading all the reviews.
The film was a disappointment.
How on Earth it can be promoted as "a feel good film" is beyond me! The film where right in front of you a child is blinded by a criminal gang, where children suffer so much physically and psychologically cannot be called "feel good". What the authors are trying to say to us? "He's got the money, so everything is alright now" ????? Do they believe that winning money puts things right? Do they really think that it makes us feel good and makes us to forget everything that happened to these children before or still happening to other ones?
It would have been an OK film if they didn't use this stupid "feel good" for promoting it! I think it is the highest insensitivity of authors towards their own story and their own characters.
Left me feeling BAD!