Slumdog Millionaire - a film that doesn’t really fit in anywhere…


Slumdog Millionaire (UK/France, 2008)

Seen: Saturday, 21st February 2009 (cinema, special screening)
Runtime: 120′
Polish Distributor: Monolith Plus (27th February 2009)
Release Date (worldwide): 30th August 2008
Director: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan (co-director)
Cast: Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan
Production House: Celador Films, Film4, Pathé Pictures International
Plot: (from imdb)

A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums, becomes a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.

This is one of the promos for the Indian market. If you want to see the English theatrical trailer then check it out in my film spotting post.

Impressions In Short
I think it is neither as great nor as bad as some people will have you believe. It’s certainly a pleasant film to watch though.

More About the Film
This film is a bit of a misfit - it doesn’t really belong anywhere. It doesn’t follow the commercial rules of either Hollywood or Bollywood, nor is it an art house film. It has a lot of elements of India in it, but it is also very clearly a film of an outsider looking in rather than a film that is truly Indian in character (though it does pay a small homage to Bollywood - particularly with its one dance sequence).
I guess this is why Warner Bros felt the film would be difficult to sell and it was originally going to be released straight to DVD. Eventually Warner Bros passed it on for distribution to Fox Searchlight and gosh must they be kicking themselves lol
For me the film had two really, really strong points. The screenplay was amazing - one rarely sees something that’s constructed so well. And just to be clear - I don’t mean the story. The story is just a simple tale of an underdog and his love for a girl. I specifically mean the screenplay, as in the way the story was told. It has terrific suspense (not something you usually get much of in love stories :]) and it’s just very originally told. I was very happy to see Simon Beaufoy get the Oscar for it. Then the other thing that was really exceptional was the way the sound was mixed. The way the sounds of Mumbai and the music and everything were put together was very unique. In fact I remember reading A.R. Rahman attributing the attention his soundtrack received to the mixing of it - nobody had mixed it like that before. So I’m really happy that the Oscar for Sound Mixing went to Slumdog :)
The music of course was really good as well, but IMO A.R. Rahman is a great composer, period. I don’t think this is necessarily his best work ever. This is just the first time he’s had the opportunity to be globally recognised and I’m happy he has :)
The rest of the film for me was very good, just not exceptional. I mean I probably would have been more positive than I’m being at the moment if not for the hype levels that are surrounding Slumdog. When you’re expecting a lot from a film, one tends to watch it with a more critical eye (or at least I do ;)), so it’s kind of harder to be really impressed.

Yep. I don’t think it is quite as good as the hype surrounding it, but it’s definitely worth watching. I think most of the people who dislike it are unhappy because they want it to have some sort of deeper meaning, whereas Slumdog is just a feel-good kind of movie.
But quite apart from that, I think that if you have a serious interest in cinema, you should see it even if you’re expecting to hate it. I’m pretty sure this film is going to be in cinema history books. Films like Titanic, The Matrix or Amelie may not be universally loved (I don’t really love any of them ;-P), but they changed things - changed the way producers and distributors thought about films. I reckon Slumdog is going to change things too.

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