jump to navigation

Slumdog Millionaire January 23, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
10 comments

Ever wondered what an Indian film made by an international filmmaker would look like? Slumdog Millionaire is a great example of just that. The unlikely story of how an uneducated boy from the slums of Mumbai wins big bucks on a television quiz show has all the elements of a feel good Indian film but is made with more finesse and subtlety and without the duets and manipulation. The rags to riches tale with a happy ending (feels a bit like a sports movie) is primarily a love story. An improbable story where circumstances keep the lovers away till the very end should seem very familiar to Indian audiences.

Like its main protagonist, the film was an underdog too and was almost destined to be a straight-to-DVD release but fate had other plans or as Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Millions) will now say “It is written”.

Adapted from Vikas Swarup’s Q & A, the film has an engrossing screenplay by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day). But it is director Danny Boyle’s brilliance that really sets this film apart. He makes fantastic use of the film’s setting and that is primarily responsible for elevating this film to another level. The non-linear narrative employed is essential to the impact of the film. Boyle acknowledges casting director Loveleen Tandan’s inputs to the project by giving her a co-director credit and I am guessing she had a great influence in helping him achieve his vision along with cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and editor Chris Dickens. The film does take cinematic liberties and has its share of contrivances and unbelievable coincidences but it works nonetheless.

As is being portrayed by some, there is nothing for Indians to be particularly proud of or ashamed about due to this film. The setting is real but I don’t see everyone watching this film going “Oh! This is how life in India/Mumbai is”. No, surely we understand that films are works of fiction. And I don’t see a need for us to be ashamed of poverty. This film wasn’t made to glorify or debase India or its culture, so where is the need to look for yourself in there. It is a work of fiction and has to be looked at that way. It was after all based on a book written by an Indian author. And Danny Boyle has many more opportunities to show pain and suffering but he chooses not to.

The cast is uniformly good but forget the newcomers Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto. Forget the popular Indian faces like Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan. The most impressive performances come from the kids in this film. Kudos to Boyle and Tandan for extracting the performances they manage to get from these kids. Ayush Khedekar, who plays Jamal at his youngest is brilliant and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail who plays young Salim is also quite good (and both of them apparently live in the slums of Mumbai). They feature in the most memorable scenes in the film including the Amitabh Bachchan autograph scene and the chase scene at the beginning (the slums are beautifully captured in a chase through the gallis reminiscent of Ram Gopal Varma’s films). In comparison, Dev Patel’s Jamal lacks the energy that the kid displays but then I guess it was by design.

The film has already won big at the Golden Globes and is tipped to be a favorite at the Academy Awards. But personally, among the films I’ve seen from 2008, I prefer Wall-E and The Dark Knight (both of which are unfortunately not in the running for the Best Film at the Oscars) over this one.

A R Rahman’s score is splendid but I am a bit surprised by its popularity at the awards (It already won the Golden Globe and has been nominated for the Oscar) because it is louder than the average Hollywood film score (but is still limited when compared to Indian movies and Rahman notes that he had only 17-18 cues compared to a normal figure of about 150). The score works superbly in the film but Rahman surely has composed much better numbers than the catchy Jai Ho which was nominated for Best Original Song at both the Globes and the Oscars. Nevertheless, it is great the his work is being recognized in the West (3 Oscar nominations and a possible win or two ain’t bad).

A lot has been said and written about this film, so a recommendation is unnecessary but I do have a piece of advice. When you go into a movie theater with bloated expectations about a film, it will, more often than not, fall short. So go in with an open mind, understand that this is fiction and prepare to have a good time.

Sunday February 25, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
5 comments

I haven’t seen Chandrasekhar Yeleti’s Anukokunda Oka Roju – the film on which Sunday is based. But after watching the latter I can rightly take a guess that those who have seen both would no doubt have few good things to say about this one.

It’s supposed be about this lady (Ayesha Takia) who keeps forgetting stuff but trouble starts when certain people she doesn’t seem to recognize are after her. It turns out to be that all those are connected to a series of incidents which happened the previous sunday. Sounds interesting enough but when you actually watch the movie it rather turns out to be a bunch of gags (which thankfully work most of the time) strung together by a lame mystery plot.

Director Rohit Shetty treads the same path as in in previous film Golmaal. He is effective in handling some funny sequences but that’s about it. The guys who make the most impact here are Arshad Warsi and Irrfan Khan who complement each other extremely well and manage to bring a smile to your face even with mundane gags. It would be quite interesting to see them together again in the upcoming Krazzy 4. Vrijesh Heerji and Mukesh Tiwary are also quite hillarious at times. Ajay Devgan who generally has trouble doing comedy somehow manages to get his act right in Rohit Shetty’s films. Ayesha Takia is given another role (though a lengthy one) which doesn’t do full justice to her talent. Also, there are five songs composed by five music directors which aren’t great except “Pyaar Ko Ho Jaane Do”. The action sequences seems extremely out of place.

Apart from the comedy the only other thing I liked is the way the architectural beauty of Delhi is captured on film. Rohit Shetty’s Sunday ultimately manages to be a watchable flick purely for the laughs but only for those who haven’t seen the original.