Monday, February 2, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire (2009) – Dev Patel, Freida Pinto

The opening scene of slum children being chased by sweaty officers for illegally playing cricket on an airstrip is visually captivating. The children’s intrepid provocations towards the police are endearing. No other sequence in the film is as extraordinary. Consequently, everything else in the film is comparably ordinary.

The play between present and past tenses becomes predictable within minutes. The protagonist, working towards a million-dollar grand prize on a game show, is presented with a series of questions for which he digs into his life experiences to deliver every correct answer. An unnecessary love story is woven into the plot. The characters are neglected even the slightest opportunity to develop. And the film concludes with an awkward dance number that will make you squirm in embarrassment on the behalf of the cast.
Thank you to Anil Kapoor for displaying what little talent exists among (most) Bollywood actors by overacting all dialogue. And why exactly is Kapoor’s character (i.e. the host of the game show) insecure and scheming? Irfan Khan’s role gave him little space to flex his full talent.Music
Why is A. R. Rahman the only artist receiving applause for the soundtrack? Granted, the composition during the opening scene, entitled ‘O Saya’, is incredibly pulsing and very much connected to the narratives of slums in Mumbai, what with the screeches of steel slicing against Mumbai’s rails and the drum-beat crescendos that capture the hurried essence of life on the run. But this track is only as richly nuanced as are the vocals performed by one miss M.I.A.

She is funky, punchy, and modern. M.I.A.'s personal contribution to the film, one of her previously released songs entitled ‘Paper Planes’, is the only track worth international accolade. Her Oscar Nomination should have been for this track rather than ‘O Saya’.

*images courtesy of


Anonymous said...

Yes, but surely all of that pales into insignificance next to the yumminess of Dev Patel.


He can Bollywood-dance for me any day.

NMakhani said...

That was a very interesting, and critical review. I've never been to India, and I'm wondering if that would play a role in why I loved this movie so much, perhaps I've never seen what the real world is like from that lens, and so, I loved the movie. Never having the chance to visit any kind of developing country, or slum in a country disconnects us from the reality of poverty, and this film was an introduction to that reality for any who haven't been there.

I do agree about Anil Kapoor's over-acting, it was entertaining though!

I felt like the dance at the end reduced this brilliant film into every other run-of-the-mill bollywood movie with a mediocre song and everyone dancing in-sync. Maybe Dev Patel will be recruited into Bollywood to keep that kind of dancing up? We'll just have to wait and see...

Eugene said...


I shall no doubt trash your review after I watch this film and force myself to like it to be contrary.

Remy said...

Now some of what you say is true - the intro scene is captivating, the awkward bollywood dance sequence at the end has to go, and the music is captivating...however, I do not think that the rest of the movie was as horrible as you say.

I do think that it deserved the Golden Globe nods it received. However, I do not think it should be up for best picture at the Oscars, nor should it win as the underdog. The Reader with Kate Winslet far outshines this little puppy of a movie.

Anonymous said...

Anil Kapur was the best part of the movie jackass.