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SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE - An Intelligently directed & well scripted movie but portrays INDIA in a bad taste. (Review By Bobby Sing)

17 Jan, 2009 | Movie Reviews / 2009 Releases

It’s the most appreciated movie in the last few months (2008), winning several awards at various film festivals all over the globe. So I was excited enough to the see it, expecting another movie which will be added in my “Movies to See Before You Die” list.  No doubt it is one of the best movies of recent times but sadly I didn’t find it worth adding my “Must See Movies” List and I will surely give you my reasons for that here in the end.

Firstly talking about the movie, an interesting observation is that if the viewer is not told about who directed this flick, then, he is bound to take it as a movie made by an Indian or a person with an Indian origin. But surprisingly it is directed by “Danny Boyle” of ‘Trainspotting’ and ’28 Days Later’ fame. Though he has done a brilliant job but in my opinion he selected this subject and directed this movie keeping in mind the festival circuit and attention he would get because of the Indian touch and feel of the movie. You might get my point more clearly after watching it and reading my points at the end of this review.

The story of this movie is about a young teenage boy winning millions at a TV Show (KBC of Indian Television) and how each question asked by the anchor has a relation to his past life. He knows most of the answers as all the questions have something similar to the circumstances of his real life. So the anchor at one point of time doubts that he may be cheating in the show. In order to investigate his loyalty, he is handed over to the police for one night, but nothing is found against him and he is allowed to play the game, the next final day.
Each question put to him in the game show has a sequence attached to it in the screenplay which is well written and enjoyable. The growth of the children from a small age to their teenage youth is well executed. But the thrill which should have been there regarding the game is missing. May be it’s because from the title itself you already know that the contestant is going to win. Moreover, the narration of the movie is more towards an artistic offbeat film (like that of “Salaam Bombay”), which reduces its chances of becoming a big hit in the Indian circuit (But may do well in multiplexes).
Performances wise everybody does a fine job especially Dev Patel and all the children featuring in the movie. Their expressions and dialogue delivery has been directed perfectly and they never seem to be acting. Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan, Saurabh Shukla & Mahesh Manjrekar are just fine doing their parts with nothing extra-ordinary to talk about. But they are lucky enough to get this project which has become world famous by now. One thing i couldnt understand was that why Anil Kapoor did not want the slum boy to win in his show and why he tried to give him the wrong answer. Camerwork showing the slums and riots is brilliant. Infact the opening scene is the most well shot sequence with all the kids running followed by the policemen.
Musically, there are no full length songs in the movie and the soundtrack alone is more enjoyable separately. The best song is “Jai Ho” which was shockingly refused by Subhash Ghai for his movie “Yuvraaj”. The background music is superb giving an ample support to the direction. A. R. Rahman gives another good score in this International project and has already won praises and awards, making his presence felt in the International Film & Music Circles. We are really proud to have him as a National Treasure.
Now coming to the points why this movie could not impress me as expected and why it is not being added to my “Movies to See Before You Die” List.
1.  A few decades back (in sixties to eighties), there was an “Art Movies” wave going on in our Indian Movie world when film-makers were making movies based on Indian Culture, mainly portraying the poverty and backward side of India. They were showing the poor and exploited farmers, their extreme conditions, beggars, starving children, famines and droughts and depicting India as a suffering country. To some extent it was true then, and due to this realistic cinema and so called artistic creations, most of those film-makers got recognition all over the world.
Without pointing names, I would also like to add that these were the movies which were more or less responsible of giving India, its “Poor Country of Beggars, Farmers & Snake Charmers” image to the world.
A similar kind of attempt was made by Mira Nair in “Salaam Bombay” in 1988, showing the red light area, poverty and slums of Bombay in her movie and getting international recognition thereafter.
Here in “Slumdog Millionaire”, I see the same intentions again by the director Danny Boyle, showing the dirty slums, poor living conditions, begging mafia, tortured children, poverty, riots and racial tension in the current Mumbai, giving it again a picture of a backward city with only the illegal slums spread all over. I doubt this was done intentionally to grab international attention, because if you see the movie, you will feel that the same impact could have been given without showing the Mumbai City in a bad form.
2. In support of my above point, another plot added with purpose in the movie is “The Taj-Mahal Sequence”. This again seems to be deliberately added in the screenplay to show the famous “Wonder of The World” in the movie and have more festival feel to the project. In fact as you will see the movie, you would feel that the “Taj-Sequence” has no contribution to make in the script and could have been easily avoided. But since the director wanted to show “The Real India” so “The Taj” has to be there in the movie, otherwise it would have been incomplete.
3. Other strong objection or disagreement I have is with the title of the movie, “Slumdog Millionaire”, calling all the people living in the Slums as Dogs. This kind of expression is not an artistic liberty in my opinion.  The hero of the movie is from the slums, working as a “Chai-Wala” in a call center, but can speak good English. Interestingly, the director chooses to call his hero, “A Dog from the Slums who becomes Millionaire” aka “Slumdog Millionaire”. The moment I got the real meaning of the title after watching the movie, it was a let-down for me. I am sure this title would not have been used if the movie was about the poor Black people living in the slums in the West. But for the Indians you can call them “Dogs”.  Not acceptable…..
Infact, in the opening scene of the Game Show, when the teenage boy introduces himself as a “Chai-Wala”, then the host of the show, Anil Kapoor, makes fun of him and his work. This was simply not a good piece of writing and direction as no Host in reality could have done it in his show with his contestant.
4. Regarding the riots scenes in the movie, I am not in favour of using any minor actors/children in a scene showing racial tension and racial killings. I hope the directors know their social responsibilities while shooting such sequences with children and young teenagers. Since a well directed scene of riots can leave any good or bad kind of effect on the psyche of the child, so I think this is rather important point to think for all the people related to film-making.
5. I also found some weird scenes in the movie, which are disgusting as hell. Director Danny Boyle surely has some liking with the toilet, flushes and waste material. I remember a scene in his “Trainspotting” where a character puts his face in the commode full of waste and then his whole body flows into it. A similar kind of scene is here when the child is in an open toilet just covered from the sides and open from below. Suddenly he hears that Amitabh Bachhan’s helicopter has landed there for a shoot. Now his door is locked from outside and he cannot move out of the toilet to meet his favourite star. In order to grab this golden opportunity the child decides to jump from the hole below into the waste material. He then moves out of the dirty pool (as if a swim-suit girl is coming out of the pool), covered with waste all over his body and goes on to take the autograph of his hero.
Now what is the use or significance of this scene in the movie, it was completely out of my understanding. Giving artistic touches to a movie is a different thing but you don’t have to be disgusting for that. In “Trainspotting”, the justification can be that the scene and characters were related to drug addiction and its impact, but here I was unable to see any justification of this scene in the movie.
6. There are many other flaws also in the widely appreciated script. Like I don’t know where in India we teach the Classic “The 3 Musketeers” to 4-6 years slum kids and what is the explanation for the excellent English accent of the lead character Jamaal.
So in a nutshell, no doubt it’s a well directed and tightly scripted movie appreciated world-wide by all and it may be one of the better movies of 2008 but I couldn’t appreciate the treatment given to Mumbai city and the kind of INDIA shown in the movie, only to grab an international attention. It’s time now for the World to form a much better image of INDIA and other Asian countries fast moving towards development.
For me its not a masterpiece as it is being projected and with respect to all the awards it has won, I cannot add “Slumdog Millionaire” to my “Movie To See Before You Die” List.
Rating : 3 / 5
(Since I have gone into great details for this review, I would really appreciate your valuable comments on the same. And I would like to discuss this topic further with all my readers. So eagerly waiting for your words).

Tags : A. R. Rahman, Award Winner, Festival Movie, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, Slumdog Millionaire Review by Bobby Sing, Slumdog Millionaire Review, Slumdog Millionaire Movie Review, Kaun Banega Crorepati, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Danny Boyle, Trainspotting, Golden Globe Awards, Indian English Film, Indina English Movies, Dev Patel, Movie Review Slumdog Millionaire, Poverty in Slumdog Millionaire, Controversy of Slumdog Millionaire, A. R. Rahman nominated for Oscar, A. R. R
17 Jan 2009 / Comments ( 6 )

I agree with the flaws, but the movie is just too good...even technically such as cinematography, editing, etc....therefore the flaws are overlooked!

However, I truly disagree with people complaining about how the western audience just wants to see the slums in Indian movies and SM is too one sided. It\'s not one sided, nobody sees that they made a movie about an illiterate slum boy who wins a million dollars on a tough game show! And when it comes to blaming the western people, well....Americans live in bigger houses, drive bigger cars, and the country is a lot cleaner than India.

Movies are a way people leave their real life and experience something new! Hence, western people enjoyed SM cuz it was different. Similarly, (u can\'t deny this) but millions of Indians live in poverty, water is not available 24/7, India is really dirty, and everything is small compare to America! Therefore, we Indians love watching are mainstream films being shot in lavish sets and in foreign locations cuz we want to get away from are real life. If this is the blame by Indians, well then we\'re hypocrites!

Bobby Sing

Hi Sanat,
Thanks for writing in.
I really respect your opinion but I felt the other way seeing the movie.

Anyway it was nice to have a detailed comment from you side.

Please keep writing .......Cheers! 


Movie is rightly said slumdog bcoz in India poor homeless people is treated as dog , if you follow news channels than you would definitely have heard that this year more than thousands of homeless people died due to heat, so see yourself people are dieing due to heat and government is saying india is shining , don\'t think these people are living life very much similar to a street dog .

Yes I agree with you that Taj Mahal sequence was simply impossible , and was inserted to include Taj Mahal and show that how our hero Jamal can fit himself into a new place and situation but the way it is shown is simply unconvincing bcoz one can learn such a good English with best accent and become so much clever by living in Uttarpradesh.

But I can relate to the Amitabh Bacchan sequence bcoz it shows that how much we the people of india love Amitabh bacchan , yes you can say that Jaman could have easily climbed that toilet cabin and had made an escape from the top of it but than we won\'t have been talking about that sequence than so i loved the Amitabh Bacchan sequence and way it is show i will remember it till i die .

Other thing that you are saying is that india is shown in bad light , but than why don\'t you say that Anurag Kashayb has shown Wassaypur in bad light , you can not say that bcoz whatever Anurag Kashyav has show is ture and was widely reported and in media in the same way poverty and slum is sour and most better truth of india and we can not deny it and can not stop any one from showing it to the world , all i want to say is if someone is a terrorist than a film maker will show his sins film maker will not show his good deeds that he goes to temples he believes in god , bcoz if you are a terrorist no one cares that you believes in god.

My point is that the India which is shown in Slumdog Millionaire is very close to the real india and it is atleast 70% close to reality according to me.
But any way you can have your own opinon and thought process and vision of seeing things and I love you and 95% times you review is very close to mine but not this time Sorry, but anyway i still love you please keep writing i visit your site atleast 4 to 5 times in a week i want that you should also write music reviews and i want your more articles on cinema i think that you should also write on the latest trending topic of Bollywood like salman bhai going to jail than immediately getting bail or about AIB roast issue , you can also write movie\'s trailer review .
Please reply me i\'m waiting......

Bobby Sing

Hi Shubham,

Thanks a lot for your love and kind appreciation and that really provides the much needed encouragement keeping the spirit high.
Its fine to have disagreements at times as that only bring in more beauty and understanding between two viewpoints. 

Regarding writing more, I will try my best but since along with passion, monetary needs also need to be given the essential attention so I have to take care of that part of life too.
But yes, I would surely try to write more as requested and hope you have already read my first book published as the author too. 
Do write to me about how you found the book with the exclusive information about Hindi Cinema.

Take Care


Yes I bought it at the earliest after you released it atleast 6 months ago, I found it a little costly due to additional delivery charges from Amazon. com . But I loved the cover of the book and I think any and every price is very small infront of the passion that you have for cinema and the love and passion that I have for you and cinema both.

I haven\'t read full book because I was and I\'m sill busy in my preparation for the All India Pre-medical Test(AIPMT). I had read few initial chapters like Satayajit Ray A rare phenomenon , Bimal Roy , Gulzar , and Shakespeare , Ageless Guide,etc . I found that the contents that you provided in the book is already available on your website Bobby talks cinema but nevertheless no digital medium can replace the book because when I read the book and keep my fingers on the paper I can feel the pleasure and essence of author\'s passion through my fingerprints and the smell of the hard bound paperback always fills me with the joy of my childhood and reminds me of my school days when I used to go to school on the first day of the new session in new class with my heart filled with excitement about new books , new teacher, I just love this feeling.

Let me tell you a little about myself I\'m 19 years old and I just love watching , reading , living cinema .In your words "yes I do eat , drink,sleep, think about cinema" I\'m obsessed with cinema and I want to become a film maker , for this purpose I gave an exam in a university situated in Bhuwaneshwar Orrisa called Kalinga University , I gave the exam for Bachelor\'s of film and television production course and I passed it and secured 32nd rank , but my father is not interested about my interest he is not convinced that I can make it Big in Bollywood. He thinks that there is so much competition in this field of cinema and I would not be able to cope up with this kind of cut throat competition and he says that film industry is not a place for us middle class people it is meant for the children of Hero and heroine and film producers and directors . He don\'t see cinema as a respectful place he sees it as a very place where you have to do alot of shameful things to make it big. I tried to explain him that cinema is not only about stars, dance , parties and Bollywood but he wants me to complete my MBBS first and than if the passion is still alive in me than think about cinema.

I\'m not very good at studies so my father is even ready to give donation to get me admitted in a medical college but I requested him to wait for one more year and let me try once more to scure a seat in government medical college .
After passing class 12th I took a drop and went to Kota Rajasthan to take coaching for AIPMT but even after studying hard for 1 year and after giving 14 competitive exams this year I\'m only qualified for 1 college which is for BAMS ( Bachelor\'s of Ayurvedic medicine and surgery) . So now I will take admission in ayurvedic college and will keep preparing for AIPMT and statw PMT and my father is saying that he will try to pay donations and get me admitted to any private medical college of Maharashtra for MBBS course next year.

I tried to explain him that I\'m not interested in doing MBBS but he is not listening . So, I have to do MBBS first and than I will try hard to get admission in Film and television institute of India (FTII) Pune or Satayjit Ray film institute Kolkata for 3 year Diploma course of film direction , yes I know that it sounds very impractical that I will first do MBBS than will try to become a film maker but what to do I\'m left with no other solution I have only this way to go .

Well sorry for so long...... life story of mine I\'m really sorry but I wanted your advice and guidance for how to proceed further so, that I can become a film maker in future .

And haan your book is called Did You Know vol. 1 So, when are you coming up with vol. 2 Of the book ...?
Please reply I will be waiting.

Bobby Sing

Hi Shubham,
Thanks a lot for opting for the book bro and praising the honest effort too.
Regarding the cost its actually Amazon.com pricing policy for the print to order books that are originally published in another country. In India it has been priced at a very nominal price of only Rs.195/- at Amazon.in and all other sites with even few discounts at selected outlets.
About most of the content already being there at the site, I would like to share a vision that since I don't believe in any big future plans, so I don't like to keep my writings in hiding, waiting to be included in a book form in some uncertain future and love to share it with all my well wishing readers right away...... In other words I don't wish to leave them lost in the papers, never reaching you all in case of any uncertainty in the unpredictable future. So you will be finding many of them in a detailed form in the Vol.2 along with few new ones too soon. (Trying my best to compile them fast)

Coming to your personal sharing, I can very well understand the worry and feelings of your concerned father and he is very right in doing so too if looked upon from his viewpoint. Plus I will support his idea of completing the education first as I am too of the same opinion that nothing should be tried leaving your studies in the middle like this and that too when you have a loving father willing to do so much with all kind of possible support that is not available to many. Remember even Aamir Khan and his friends completed their studies first before pursuing their personal interests in 3 IDIOTS. But the younger generation wrongly loves to interpret it as going for their passions by leaving it all in the middle as a rebel. 

Moreover, reading your comment I do remember a meeting with a reputed doctor from UK a few years back, who had actually made a complete film on the subject of medical emergencies taking time out of his busy schedule and the film featured many reputed names too. So if one has got a passion burning inside, he can and he always finds a way to do it somehow despite all challenging conditions at any age.

Therefore as my honest advice, education should be the focus first as that will help you in all fields and stages of life, and would also make you capable of trying your passion any time in future quite easily.

All The Best with HIS BLESSINGS

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