In a breathtaking ceremony amidst the best Hollywood Stars, Slumdog Millionaire took away the cake with 8 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing. India’s A. R. Rehman won 2 Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Song. It truly has been a fairy tale journey for the Indian who put India’s compositions on the global map. The movie, adapted from an Indian novel ‘Q&A’ by an Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup, has been written for picturisation by Simon Beaufoy. The movie was released on November 12, 2008, and it was released worldwide by January 24, 2009. This movie has risen above expectations in both contexts, claiming to be the best and the centre of controversy.
The 120 minute Slumdog Millionaire is based upon the reality show of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ The story opens with two police men interrogating and torturing Jamal Malik, a slum resident in Mumbai, who entered the show, and achieved glory in one night by answering correctly all the questions. The host of the show, Prem Kumar, had him arrested on the basis of suspicion, because a boy from the slums, having such indepth knowledge or being so lucky were unlikely possibilities.
The 18 year old boy, desperate to prove himself innocent, starts from the early childhood, to explain every possible situation from where he could have learned the answers. He stops at no scenario and goes on to explain the details of how his brother murdered a big gangster of the slum and many others like him. He tells about their adventures together, and his love, Latika. Each chapter of his story describes how he knew the answers to the questions and how he has reached the final string to be the rightful owner to 20 million rupees.
Intrigued by the story of the young boy Jamal, the police officer wanted to know that if money was not what interested him, then why was he on the show? Surprisingly, the only reason for his interest for appearing in the show was re-establishing contact with Latika, the love of his life. He was sure that being an ardent fan, Latika would be viewing the show and he considered this as the only one way of getting in touch with her. And he succeeded.
The low budget movie has not only hit the viewers hard, but has also been able to get the critic awards and has already won 7 Bafta awards including best film and best director. The movie has paved its way to the Oscars gracefully by 8 awards this year. How the director, the cinematographer, the producer, and the editor managed to put together a rational piece from a matter that is so vulnerable to get out of hand was a task that needs applauding.
Shot entirely in the city of Mumbai, India, Slumdog Millionaire, also known as Slumdog Crorepati, raises a lot of eyebrows of the local residents. Many Indians have taken the movie as offensive. They argument it as being the wrong portrayal of their country and their culture. According to the majority, the movie has depicted all the negativism. They say that it not justifiable considering this is an international release and representation of India. ‘I strongly believe that such a one-sided, extreme depiction greatly spoils image of brand India, which will take years together and millions of dollars to rectify’. Dr. D K Mehta responds, ‘While one cannot and need not mask reality but the proportion and the severity shown in the movie needs to be balanced. Any sensible Indian will agree that India is not what has been shown in the movie and it definitely is not a correct and complete picture of India.’
At the same time, Dr. Howard M. Gammon reacts, ‘the filming of Slumdog Millionaire has been a wonderful experience. It lets the viewers see the other side of the Bollywood industry. Not the typical song and dance. That is not India. That is just a cover up, an exaggeration! Even this maybe, but it’s a good view to the sore eyes.’
These are two very opposite views. The conclusion? Still undefined. It probably is a persons own perception. Whatever way they want to view it. The movie, in my opinion, was very Indian. It had the same colors, chaotic situations and the dazzling song lineup. It had the same taste and smell, but with a different touch. I enjoyed watching the movie because I could feel myself relating to it at some points. I enjoyed it because the music was good and it had a different story line up. There was no place for a dance routine and wisely so, the director put it at the end credits. Had he put it in the middle of some other scene, the whole effect would have been destroyed. I’ve never been to Mumbai myself, but I believe that in terms of structure and appearance and other technical aspects, the film has been well justified.
There is no denial to the fact that this movie had a combination of all the perfect elements in just the right proportions. Emotion, action, drama, love, bravery, self-defense. Whether true portrayal or not, it is full of drama, energy and sentiments. It is an adaptation and is well suited to the genre. However, the movie contains some violence and even some hard nude language, which may not be suitable for certain viewers or even children.
The cast was young, enthusiastic and fresh which helped in the overall aura of the film. The British televisions’ cast member for the drama skins starred as the leading role in Slumdog Millionaire as Jamal Malik, the Muslim boy raised in the slums of Mumbai. Frieda Pinto was the female role. She is a top Indian model and has never starred in a flick before. Danny Boyle has marked her with his name and she is bound to reach successes now. Anil Kapoor was the game show host, Prem Kumar and Salim Malik, Jamal’s elder brother was played by Maddhur Mittal. There were three stages to the upbringing of Latika, Jamal and Salim and the children (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Tanay Chheda, Rubina Ali, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, and Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala) performed fantastically. All the child performers gave out their expressions brilliantly.
It is true that Bollywood does not produce such films frequently. It actually produces 50 films a year. Not all are a hit. But the fan following is awesome. The audiences are loyal and expect to see such a large number of films regardless of their quality and originality. As far as Slumdog Millionaire is concerned, it is one of the minority movies which achieve stardom without any glitz and glamour, one of the few which is internationally acclaimed, and in a group of hardly any which are a favorite for the critic.
Now from the world over success and after spreading intense uneasiness in India, Slumdog Millionaire has achieved new heights by winning the Oscars.