Vantage point

Friday, January 16, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Since everyone seems to have an opinion about the movie, here is mine. I enjoyed watching it. Good movie. The story is entertaining, moves rapidly, and ends well. It bagged a bunch of Golden Globes, and might do well at the Oscars too. Good for Danny Boyle, Vikas Swarup, A.R. Rahman and all.

But really, the movie is not some seminal classic that it is being made out to be. Very little repeat value, and nothing memorable that will stand out in my mind after even a couple of years. No enduring greatness. And this opinion has nothing to do with the depiction of poverty, the seedy underbelly, and suchlike that has a lot of Indians riled up. If you want to watch a truly great classic with all that and more, I'd suggest watching Salaam Bombay! at once.

Much more entertaining than Slumdog Millionaire, have been the reactions to it. People are taking it way more seriously than they should. Right from the critics, reviewers and award juries who are hailing it as some groundbreaking work of art depicting the human condition, to the riled up Indian columnists, pundits and bloggers who are upset at what they think is cynically calculated, excessively scatty and opportunistic portrayal intended as a conscious or subconscious slight to India.

I was particularly amused by Nirpal Dhaliwal's post at the Guardian film blog. First of all, there was a lot of ad hominem in it, which is always enjoyable, most of it directed at Bachchan and Bollywood - blusterer, no-talent, stupid, moronically, blind, incapable, worthless trash, idiotically and so on. Most entertaining.

He also calls SM the "best film made about India in recent times", and as a counter-argument offers up turkeys like Jaane Tu, Rock On, and Love Story 2050. He also claims that a realistic and non-escapist movie like SM, focusing on anyone but the middle class elite, could only have been made by a westerner. So let's all collectively forget Matrubhoomi, Chandni Bar, Traffic Signal, Water, Black Friday, and other such movies, and agree with him.

Let the madness continue!