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Slumdog Millionaire - MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS-


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#1 innopac

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 12:55 PM

I saw Slumdog Millionaire the other day and "poignant drama" is not how I would describe it. Confronting yes. There were moments where I felt I couldn't take much more. There is something about violence and cruelty involving children....

The movie, as a movie, is absolutely gripping. But after I left I felt uncomfortable about watching something like this as "entertainment" and about the juxtaposition of a "feel-good" plot with such a terrible human reality.

And then later I was shown this article. Warning it does have "spoilers" in it. One could argue that a film like this is getting the general population to "notice" and think about issues we are ignoring but there is food for thought in what Alice Miles has to say.

#2 abatt

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 01:23 PM

Thanks for posting that article. It was very interesting. I saw the film a few weeks ago and found it fascinating. I certainly would not classify it as a comedy, or as mere entertainment. It was very violent and depicted some awful scenes regarding poverty, the effects of religious intolerance, and child abuse. For me, those are the elements that made it a significant film with important social and political implications. It forces the viewer to confront dark realities regarding the "third world." These are the reasons I think it is garnering such praise, which in my opinion it deserves. The dark images of the film stayed with me long after I left the theater, but at the same time I found the resolution of the relationship between Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto uplifting and joyous.

#3 dirac

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 02:52 PM

Interesting article, innopac. I don’t agree, as it happens, but it’s useful to have the case put with such emphasis. “Slumdog Millionaire” is a “feelgood” movie, but I didn’t emerge afterward with the sense I’d been crudely manipulated and my buttons pushed, which is generally what happens after I see films described in this way.

The picture juxtaposes scenes of poverty and cruelty with comedy and fairy tale elements. It’s a tricky line to walk but I think it works. There’s no question, however, that if the picture didn’t end happily – sort of- it would be a nightmare. But I don't think a feelgood movie has to make you feel good all the way through it.

These are the reasons I think it is garnering such praise, which in my opinion it deserves.


I think it's deserving too, abatt. There are quibbles, of course, but I went in to the theater with my guard up and surrendered more or less unconditionally.

#4 sandik

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 02:55 PM

I have some major disagreements with the reviewer from the Australian, but can understand their basic misgivings. I spent a considerable part of the film peering through my fingers at the violence, but would not want it any other way. The general trend in mainstream films is to make them consistent -- romance is romance, drama is drama, etc. But most of the truly good films break those conventions. Without trying to reduce contemporary Indian life to a caption, it is a world of great contradiction, and in that I think Slumdog Millionaire is a very truthful film.

#5 dirac

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 02:57 PM

sandik, we were posting at about the same time, so I didn't see your post beforehand. But I agree.

#6 canbelto

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 10:55 AM

I saw it last night. It's a fairy-tale at heart, but it reminds me of "Pan's Labyrith" in that the fairy tale is not manipulative or "feel good" but rather intense and disturbing, and so Jamal's happiness seems earned. I also find it to be perhaps (interjecting a lil' politics here) perhaps an appropriate movie for 2008, as Jamal Malik is an intelligent Muslim who has been the victim of racial and religious persecution. I couldn't help but think of the new president when I saw him.

#7 Helene

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 02:41 AM

I'm reading a biography of Mohammed, and it's clear he would not have survived had tribal protectionism not existed to keep him alive, and I thought of this during the movie in the character of the brother, without whose macho, criminal tribal ethic and protection there would have been no "happy" ending.

The romantic part, not so effective for me, especially as they cast the adult girl way too old for the hero, and instead of getting someone with depth, they found an actress/model. (There are thousands of talented actresses who could have nailed this role, and I've seen a number of them in contemporary Indian cinema.)

#8 innopac

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 11:48 AM

The dancing at the end in the railway station for me really detracted from the power of the film. I was not sure why it ended that way. To emphasize the feel good aspect?

#9 dirac

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 12:25 PM

innopac, I think the concluding dance is a nod to Bollywood style. Danny Boyle, the director of “Slumdog Millionaire,” has said he was influenced by several Bollywood films.

especially as they cast the adult girl way too old for the hero, and instead of getting someone with depth, they found an actress/model.


Freida Pinto is indeed too pretty and well kept, but although many would have been better she didn't spoil anything (and she really is lovely). The age thing went right by me, I thought Patel and she were very appealing together.

I thought of this during the movie in the character of the brother, without whose macho, criminal tribal ethic and protection there would have been no "happy" ending.


Good point. The role of the brother is also a familiar movie type, as well.

#10 GWTW

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 05:01 AM

I saw it last night (without having read this thread or being spoiled in any other way), and I thought it was too much of a fairy-tale.
As a contemporary movie, it couldn't completely ignore reality and refrain from portraying some of the violent realities of life in the slums. (Even romantic comedies these days make nominal attaempts to justify the time and money available to the protaginists) But - and this may say more about me than about 'Slumdog Millionaire' and Danny Boyle - I didn't think the violence was overdone in any way, and in some ways it just wasnt even credible. IMHO, the interrogation scenes were less terrifying than the average 'Homicide - Life on the Steet' episode.
There were some scenes that were very intense like the scene where the children find shelter from the rain, but ultimately everything was too by-the-book to really touch me. The happy ending was a given from the beginning, and there was no drama in the middle to make me doubt that.
The children were very affecting but I didn't feel that the adult actors were particularly good, especially if you compare them to Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, etc. from 'Trainspotting'.
All that said, I agree with sandik that the essence of India - the teeming mass of contradiction - is beautifully achieved. In 2009 India, and Mumbai in particular, is certainly deserving of a love-letter.

#11 dirac

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 02:47 PM

People who don't care for Slumdog tend to be divided into two camps - either it's too much of a fairy tale or not enough of one. It's a fine line.

#12 EvilNinjaX

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 08:37 AM

To those of you for whom the violence and portrayal of Indian urban slums was too much, please do not read the book. The books is must more grisly than the movie and almost every chapter in the first half deals with child molestation in some fashion. It is a solid read (and fills in alot of those blanks left in the movie; note that the dollar value of the question skips about 5 questions) but the movie does excise much of the more disturbing elements.

#13 dirac

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 10:42 AM

To those of you for whom the violence and portrayal of Indian urban slums was too much, please do not read the book. The books is must more grisly than the movie and almost every chapter in the first half deals with child molestation in some fashion. It is a solid read (and fills in alot of those blanks left in the movie; note that the dollar value of the question skips about 5 questions) but the movie does excise much of the more disturbing elements.


Thanks, EvilNinjaX. I had a feeling the filmmakers were going easy on us.

#14 Helene

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 02:35 PM

Thanks, EvilNinjaX. I had a feeling the filmmakers were going easy on us.

That was pretty much to be expected. There was the issue of those pesky permits. There was enough cultural sensitivity about the film being made in India in the first place to be showed in foreign markets. I'm not sure the movie would have been allowed to be made if the script was literal. It's not like Danny Boyle pulled any punches in "Trainspotting".

#15 Moonlily

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:38 PM

To those of you for whom the violence and portrayal of Indian urban slums was too much, please do not read the book. The books is must more grisly than the movie and almost every chapter in the first half deals with child molestation in some fashion. It is a solid read (and fills in alot of those blanks left in the movie; note that the dollar value of the question skips about 5 questions) but the movie does excise much of the more disturbing elements.


I absolutely agree with this. Some of these experiences definitely added to a different dynamic than can be found in the movie. There have also been some at first sight trivial changes to the plot and characters, as simple as the name of the main character. However, within the book, they all have their particular meanings. Taking the name as an example: As it is 'Ram Mohammad Thomas' in the book, it contains the names of three important religious personalities from three different religions. Therefore, the whole deal with his identity goes into a different direction than in the less ambiguous choice in the movie and there are some instances where this can be noticed. The violence however does really have a deep impact when seeing it visualized. I would not say it is a better way of confronting than through reading, but it is very direct.
Considering everything, I think I liked the book better for these reasons and the way the romance was portrayed, including the ending (it was indeed a bit too 'Bollywood' for my liking, as a conclusion to the rest of the movie). I personally also really like the 'dry, yet emotional' writing style of the author, Vikas Swarup. You know, the style that sounds rather matter of fact, but can make you all teary while reading. This is an old thread I see, but I'd still like to recommend reading the book. There is an excerpt from it on Vikas Swarup's website.


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