We hated the fact that we missed the first 2 minutes of the movie. All settled into our seats, we began the journey of Slumdog. I infact quite liked the portion where they extensively show Dharaavi and the kids navigating through the mysterious lanes and by lanes. Then in a very small period of time comes a series of things that any foreign eye thinks is quintessential India - Gallee cricket matches on runways, policemen chasing slum kids, the fan frenzy for Amitabh, the communal riot, the bad beggar gangs, childhood love, if anything was missing Danny Boyle completed it with the last dance number in bollywood ishtyle Jai Ho....though Kudos to AR Rehman for the fantastic music.
Many might think that I have a problem with foreign directors like Boyle showcasing only the worst of India. But trust me I have no such issues, I am not ashamed of saying or seeing what is my own (I know, i can say this easily, as I don't physically belong any of these spaces), and if I get awards and fame for it....what could be better. But if anyone is to ask me, whether or not I liked the movie....I would say, it was just OK. A mediocre film for me, that did not really transport my movie watching experience to something I had never experienced before. I perhaps wanted to like the movie, so much, that I felt guilty for getting bored. Since then, I have spoken to quite a few of my colleagues, friends, and family who watched the movie and each one of them is a little dissappointed with the fact that the movie was just OK for them too. Why so? What went wrong with the movie releasing in India, when it won such high remarks outside?
To give a very amateur opinion, I think, the whole content of the movie is for a foreign audience, who finds shock and surprise at the sight of a place like Dharavi, seeing all that makes a slum in India. With kids fighting their own way to adulthood, with a child being exposed to the malice of the grown up world, they watch all this in awe and perhaps feel pity. I think, it is all very unrealistic for a foreign eye and therefore, they enjoy experiencing something out of their own worlds. But for us, there is nothing new, we see such scenes everyday. This is where, I think, the movie fails.
For us, it is a way of life in India. Many of us may be even want to do something to help them. But still we very much accept the fact of their existence and the conditions in which they live. But for the world of America and Britain...it is beyond imagination, leave apart acceptance, to think of this way of life. I think this is where the movie is such a hit outside of India. Talking about cinematic brilliance, I could not really find many of such moments in the entire movie. It is more or less like a very good documentary cinema, if we can place it in that genre. May be the end dance & song number was only to make the audience feel that they were watching a mainstream cinema, may be even the love story was there for this very reason. Though, personally for me, it completely lacks any spark, chemistry, or even reason :)
But I do give points to Danny Boyle, Dev Patel, Freida Pinto for surviving India and Dharavi without a scratch. Also, I think, I will give points to Dev Patel and Freida Pinto for going on and on giving interviews about SDM, without stopping to think...hellos people, you literally had no role in the movie....I am angry that Salim has been completly forgotten...
What I love in the movie is the way, the kids have acted. Hats off to whoever made them act so naturally. I love Salim's character in the movie, it is the best developed character in the film. I think....more people should be talking about the kid, the guy, and the character who played Salim, than the typical NRI looking Dev Patel, whom if you want you can completly ignore in the movie, or better place anyones face instead of his...and the movie will make no difference at all.
All this said and done, I think the Honeymoon is over for SDM atleast in India! Also, I think this will make no difference to the Oscar nominations or results. Big deal, if the movie is all about India....and a bigger deal if it wasn't really a hit in India, who cares....let's lobby for the film...since very few Indian(ummmm, if we can call it that) films reach the Oscars.....three cheers for Oscars....hip hip horray!