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Jan 19, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Good things, first. It is definitely a feel good movie. A Dickensian tale about Mumbai. When it is Dickensian you've to start in the under belly of society and there has to be cute downtrodden little children. Mumbai has both - the slums and the unbelievably cute pint sized entrepreneurs.

Vikas Swarup's novel about a boy from the slums who is about to win a billion dollar in a TV quiz show caught Danny Boyle's eye. Dev Patel caught Boyle's daughter's attention thanks to his performance in a British TV series. Voila! Dev Patel lands the lead role in Slum Dog Millionaire.

It is an entertaining movie about India. A movie has to be set somewhere, right? This one is set in the slums. There is this whole hoopla about the disgusting portrayal of India in the movie. Well,it is a matter of logic and ensuring monetary returns.. If a movie has to be made about India, in India, with Indians in it by a foreigner(or an Indian) who is aiming at western markets - it has to be either about religion & self-discovery (like The Darjeeling Limited, The Guru etc) or about our biggest selling point - poverty and subsequent degradation of life in slums and/or red-light districts (like Salaam Bombay!, Water) or you have to be Merchant-Ivory. Slum Dog as the name obviously suggests falls in to the second category. For a change it has a happy ending, a nail-biting and emotional ending, just the way Indians like their movies to end. Of course, there is a happy song just before the credits roll because Danny Boyle wanted to make a quintessential Bollywood movie. Looks like he succeeded.

Except that if this 'Bollywood' movie was made by an Indian, Golden Globes wouldn't have known of its existence nor would A.R.Rahman(the music director) of the movie would've featured in the Oscar shortlist. IMHO A.R.Rahman has composed only one worse musical score than this one in the recent past and that'd be for Yuvraj.

In my view SlumDog Millionaire is the one rare movie about India that'll keep the ticket counters ringing in the West. You cannot blame Danny Boyle for making an interesting movie that the majority of the audience liked to watch. It just shows he is good at what he does. About the awards, those might be a tad overrated. O, what the heck, come on India, it could promote some slum tourism in this depressive economy.