Slumdog Millionaire : Did it deserve an Oscar?


India is a passionate and emotion packed country. We put our heroes on cloud 9 the moment they achieve something of world recognition and bring them down mercilessly at one wrong move.

The whole nation is celebrating the Slumdog success at the Oscars like there is no tomorrow.

What exactly are they celebrating? How many know anything about Rasul pookutty the man behind Black, Saawariya, and Gajni and exceptionally talented sound mixer?

Rehman is a great composer and I am his great fan but I guess this was not one of his best scores, he has given great music in many other Bollywood movies and this was average for his standard in my opinion. It did not spin any magic for me at least.

I think it is a mockery of India made for the viewing pleasure of westerners. I did not find any soul of the movie. It worked just because of the British direction and production. It is a clever well-timed production.

Unfortunately, Gulzar sahib and singer sukhvinder were treated like underdogs and it really saddened me. The song, which won many hearts “Jai ho” is sung in the passionate voice of a singer who somehow missed the Oscar ceremony and the credit all went to Rehman.

In all the euphoria about Rehman, the world forgot the lyrist and that too a great genius of music industry. Gulzar Saheb got very little coverage for his awesome work.

Slumdog millionaire did not work for me despite the whole world going euphoric about it.
First, it is not at all an “Indian” Oscar winning movie. Although I am glad that some of our most talented artists finally got their due in the world cinema. Still it did not appeal to me much. I found Slumdog Millionaire to be decidedly average.

The dialogue delivery was a pain all through the movie. Dev Patel was an eye sore and the Bollywood style romance with Frieda Pinto seemed utterly out of place. Everything he did rang hollow: every piece of dialogue, every bit of action, everything. Let us be honest. Dev Patel would not last five minutes in a Mumbai slum. It all seemed fictitious and unbelievable to me.

The film does not have the sincerity and honesty of a “Salaam Bombay” or a “City of Joy”. The way Salim is portrayed towards the ending of the movie is highly reminiscent of scenes from “The City of God.” How original is that?

It is modern version of a westerner’s point of view of what India is all about. It looks as if all the scrap of dirt is lifted and put together in one big bag. A gross injustice I would say.

When the West wanted Indians to embrace them, their companies to come to India and capture the lucrative markets, suddenly we had all the Indian women, some utterly undeserving, winning all the Miss Universe and Miss Worlds.

In the movie, Americans are shown as being nice who even give away 100$ after getting their car stolen. This is narcissism at its best.

I think it is nothing but a “poverty tour.” Slumdog twists the reality of the slums to fit its story line.

“They have made a mockery of us, they have hurt our sentiments,” said N.R. Paul, a protest leader and resident in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum.

The title itself made the slum dwellers extremely annoyed. “Slum dwellers are human beings, not dogs”, said one poster.

Today, the west is in the crisis and India is looking unstoppable despite its slums and poverty, and they are losing their businesses to us. What an opportunity to paint India as the Slumdog Millionaire? The film is nothing but an endorsement of an erstwhile imperial mindset of the West and its blinkered vision of India.

It is sad that our immense talent could not produce a true blue Indian film for the Oscars. Moreover, it makes me wonder, why are we so greedy about winning an Oscar after all? Is it the ultimate word on Indian cinema or worldwide cinema for that matter?

For the first time in the American movie history, a completely unworthy movie has been awarded one of the most coveted awards that an often time is denied to the best of the best.

Megan Mylan’s film “Smile Pinky” deserved it and got it. Congratulations.

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8 thoughts on “Slumdog Millionaire : Did it deserve an Oscar?

  1. I totally agree, I found the film highly over-rated.. and had it been made in Hindi, it wouldn’t have lasted more than a week at the cinemas… oh well

    I agree 100%

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  2. did the kids get equal pay ? did the studios help out with their education or future ? are holllywood agents ringing their cell phones ? I do not think so…….. top of that , did not like the movie .

    well some people say the kids have got into schools but I guess it is under some education program and the question is is this the way to educate slum children ?what about those organizations who work relentlessly for their betterment. They sure were underpaid despite of their performance which won the director an Oscar.

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  3. Good post. But I don’t agree with your argument that the film is made out of an “erstwhile imperial mindset”. Slums and poverty are reality and there is no escapting from it. Are you saying films should revolve around the Ambanis and the shiny happy minorities in India?

    @Adivasi
    of course not but cashing on to the harsh life of slums and glamorizing it for the benefit of certain viewers is not my idea of a great film. They are a reality but as I said facts were twisted for visual appeal.

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  4. Very well written Tiku. Quite a few points are spot on. I’m not uncomfortable about slums being on “display” even when that stupid sequence of the boy smothered in nightsoil seeking Big B’s autograph had viewers outside india gape and blurt… (badly conceived scene that one). Rahman has done better before, jai Ho was average. And Gulzar doesn;t need an Oscar. he’s my poet-hero. well for slum kids nothing will change overnight, but hopefully something will happen in trickles as it did after Salaam Bombay. A film like this maybe the heart thob of the western world, but I won;t dismiss it either as a no-impact thing. For me Smile Pinki was more real, genuine and with a surer impact that this Oscar will get for it. On that note, I’d say Oscars are somewhat important… It’s a forum, much rigged and biased no doubt, but somewhere we need more smile pinkis to get out there than slumdogs. I’m anyway more biased towards the feminine kinds than dogs!!
    P.S. Thanks a ton for your lovely comments on my poem! Made my day 🙂

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  5. I agree with Tiku, they should not have made a profit ……
    atleast they should have came out and said they did something for the kids, let’s see where they will be in 6 months from now. Nice trip too Hollywood , Ca. Nothing in return, you have too remember this is the town where Marion Brando sued…… just lately Peter Jackson sued……… they are major people that know even they got ripped, just as i am thinking about it………. read this …..
    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1501949/a_sag_strike_could_be_coming_as_screen.html

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  6. i agree with what u have said and that is how i thought abt it intially but then u know what i read at a lot of blogs the perspective that it finally brings indian cinema, india to forefront in oscars and if does what the heck

    and then whether or not its his best work or not rahman and gulzar have indeed got us oscars and that i think is reason enough to celebrate

    on the other hand i read somewhere that this oscars are politically motivated and have been intentionally given to make india happy… that makes some sense doenst it

    and if its true than we should be happy too that a country like US is retorting to these means to make us happy

    makhan laga rahein hain humko 😉

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  7. Monika,

    I agree, that you agreed too what i agreed.

    Yes, Hollywood does do politically motivate the oscars, I mean , When ” Unforgiven ” won best picture, sales of cowboy hats went up, when ” Crash ” won best picture, the car insurance companies closed ……… So, I guess in India there is almost a billion people there, let’s just make sure they all go out and buy the DVD of Slumdog……. just being funny, Daryl from NYC

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  8. Hi Tiku,
    I think Monika has nicely summed up the situation. If we people lik ARRahman are getting an Oscar, so be it. Lets hope Slumdog catapults Bollywood on to the world stage. All this publicity surely does no harm to India, ARR or the slum kids.
    Sylvan

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