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Tony Grist

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Slumdog Millionaire [Jan. 14th, 2010|10:33 am]
Tony Grist

The story is traditional fairytale- a carcass on which to hang a slap-bang-whallop impression of modern India. The characters are types- he's the widow's son, she's the princess in the castle. Alternatively he's Nicholas Nickleby and she's Madeline Bray; neither of them  particularly interesting in themselves. The character who does interest me is the older brother- who plays both good and evil angel- alternately thwarting and rescuing the lovers.  If they were always destined to find one another, then he's the agent of destiny- and his final words- as he dies in a bathtub full of rupees having saved them one last time- more than hint at something metaphysical going on.

It's a feelgood movie that never glosses over the horrors it goes streaking through. I love the energy- and the colour. And what a stroke of brilliance to regognise- and use- the mythic structure of the TV gameshow.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shullie
2010-01-14 12:55 pm (UTC)
I have not seen the film, not read the book, but if you can get it as read on Radio 4, ( it was a ten part Woman's Hour drama serial in late July/early August 2007 and then repeated it between Christmas and New Year 2008 - late at night.) I would highly recommend that.apparently it is longer available to listen to online at the BBc, though i think you may find it elsewhere.

The book/audio book has I think a different kind of ending than the film, and many more twists and turns.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-01-14 01:28 pm (UTC)
That's interesting. I hadn't realised the movie was based on a book.
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[User Picture]From: wlotus
2010-01-14 04:40 pm (UTC)
I tend to scoff at feelgood fairy tales, but this one surprised me by sucking me into it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-01-14 05:33 pm (UTC)
I think it works for two reasons. i. because it's quite frank about being a fairy tale. ii. because it doesn't lie about the horrors its characters encounter.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2010-01-14 05:58 pm (UTC)
The character who does interest me is the older brother- who plays both good and evil angel- alternately thwarting and rescuing the lovers.

He does sound interesting.

(One of the high marks by which I judge Trevor Nunn's Nicholas Nickleby—our hero wasn't boring. You can rarely ever say that about a Dickens protagonist unless he's Sydney Carton or Ebenezer Scrooge.)

And what a stroke of brilliance to regognise- and use- the mythic structure of the TV gameshow.

Is it the kind of film that is aware it's a fairytale?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-01-14 07:06 pm (UTC)
The trick is to hire an actor who can bring his- or her- own distinctive personality to a sketchily written role.

Slumdog is very conscious of being a fairy tale. That's one of its strengths- that it knows exactly what it's doing.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-01-15 10:18 am (UTC)

slumming it

try watching the 2nd part of slumming it where the guy who presents the architecture remake show (Kevin someone?)is living in a slum near Mumbai. It's on tonight at 8 on Channel 4 and tells the story a different way - shocking and compelling.
Jenny
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-01-16 01:29 pm (UTC)

Re: slumming it

Thanks. I'll probably catch it on i-player
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[User Picture]From: calizen
2010-01-16 03:59 pm (UTC)
As I recall, there were a number of Indians who hated it because it made no cover-up for the horrors shown. They thought it demeaned them in the eyes of the world. They forget 1) most of the world knew about the appalling conditions in many Indian cities and 2) even in mythic Hindu (and Indian Buddhist) tales, horribleness is part of life.
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[User Picture]From: zeeshanmn
2010-01-20 09:43 am (UTC)
Not all Indians felt demeaned. Slumdog has been quite a hit here and it has been pretty popular. Here is what I have to say about hating it.

Firstly, the section of Indians who raised their voice about the filth shown in the movie was a minority compared to those who have accepted the acclaim of the film. The hatred has eventually died down.

The second thing is that it is not about the world "already" knowing about the appalling conditions in Indian cities. It is that we Indians are blindly nationalistic and sensitive. We don't bother the grime and dirt during our everyday work, but we are careful to censor the rights of Hollywood or whoever to showcase only what is necessary.
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[User Picture]From: calizen
2010-01-20 03:07 pm (UTC)
What an interesting person you are! I am so glad you wrote this comment. It lets me know more about what is happening in India. Thank you so much.
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[User Picture]From: zeeshanmn
2010-01-20 09:54 am (UTC)
Slumdog is essentially a Brit film, written-produced-directed by non-Indians and has a hero with an unconvincing accent who doesn't belong in Bombay.

The traditional fairytale is an important template of commercial Indian cinema, which is what Boyle made good use of. Most of the films made in India have a similar structure and style: beating down adversaries.

What I liked most was that Boyle made superbly of viewers' curiosity by interspersing the film with Jamal's quests for the answers.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-01-20 10:16 am (UTC)
I had been wondering about the accuracy of the movie. The actor who plays Jamal is a Brit, I think. It's a pity they couldn't find a local actor.

I feel the same about Hollywood actors playing Brits. They almost always get the accent subtly wrong- and part of it is that they always seem to be trying too hard.
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