It is a bit late in the day for thoughts on a movie everyone has seen and reviewed. But before Oscar makes his decision, just thought I’d pen this down.
I liked Slumdog Millionaire. It is quite a rollicking entertainer, packaging Mumbai primarily for an audience that hasn’t seen anything close to a place like this. The plot line is clever and picaresque in technique. It brings the different strands of a fascinating city together to pack in quite a punch. The slums, the beggar gangs, the underworld, Bollywood’s lure, call centres, religious riots - they are all in there and there in oversaturated colour. As is the case in such plotlines, characterization goes stereo-typical. The wicked gangster and the sly game show host; the victimized beggar and the innocent prostitute. All of them seem real by themselves, but when they come together the way they do, they are props in a film dedicated to weaving together a tapestry that is meant to overload the senses, much like the city itself does.
The photography is quite brilliant, I thought. It is an external eye that finds colour in the most mundane, beauty through a different frame. The music was nice too, lifting the film in the parts that flagged a bit.
Dev Patel was a disaster. I wished I could slap away that hangdog expression on his face through the film. A more interesting face and a better actor could have made the package better. Frieda Pinto was ordinary to say the least and I never liked Anil Kapoor. But the kids quite made up for it. They were absolutely amazing and adorable – especially the teenaged Latika.
All in all, was an absorbing two hours of my life. The whining about showing the world India’s underbelly was just that – whining. And all that hand wringing about why this movie would deserve an Oscar? Since when were the Oscars about just great film making? Forrest Gump? Titanic? Rocky? Slumdog Millionaire fits right in, actually.