I live in that part of the world where English movies come to the cinemas after the whole world and its wife have watched, dissected, hated/loved them. Some like Dark Knight come after the lead actor is dead. Yeah, it takes that long.
But, because the movies come here ambling along at their own pace, the hype built around them is enough to cause stampedes at the cinemas, even if they are as exciting as watching popcorn pop.
With Slumdog Millionaire, we knew the stars, the musicians, the crew and the chaiwallah before the movie made it here. We speculated and waited. And then it came.
And then suddenly, I wasn’t sure what all the hype was about. A lot of us came out bewildered; looking very lost, grappling with the fact that we didn’t think it was choke-on-your-breath-in-admiration fare. While the rest of the world was falling over itself, swooning at the storyline, I was a little stumped with the rave reviews people were giving it. Also, as it happens with situations like these, I thought I was one of the few who was cursed with severely cramped intellectual ability. Turns out not.
I will admit it’s an entertaining movie. You love the boy, his disarmingly charming innocence and in his older years, his inability to be cunning. It’s fast paced, flows smoothly and keeps you riveted. Those were the raves. The rants. If you have lived in Mumbai or anywhere around it, you stare at Jamal hoping somewhere he would be more in touch with reality. Jamal seems strangely optimistic. Like he’s living in another planet. There is no sense of disillusionment, which is almost characteristic to such people. Yes, they do live happily and strive constantly, but the discontent exists. And in SM, there is a constant attempt to dust that under the carpet. Dev Patel , our hero, hits puberty and then stays there. Frieda Pinto on the other hand grows up (some assets weren’t pushed up to be staring in our faces but her face does age). By the end, our teenage boy looks like he’s probably going to fumble under her shirt while she looks like she’s been around. And of course, they then break into a song and dance routine. Smooth, very smooth.
The movie, as is tradition, does no justice to the book. But, I wont slam it for that. But, to someone like me, it skims over the tough parts making Jamal’s life look like a series of unfortunate incidences rather than something that is a way of life. Which is why I won’t shower it with superlatives. I think if this movie were made in India, it would have sunk without a trace. What do you think?