Saturday, February 07, 2009

okay, slumdog

So what's the fuss about, really?

Here's what I think:

  1. Danny Boy is going to make one crawling through shit scene a signature of his ouvre; you just wait and watch. That's going to be his Hitchcock contribution to the world of cinema.
  2. Not sure about this, because I may have imagined the whole thing, but did the guy pretending to be Amitabh Bachchan sign an autograph with his left hand? Is Aby a leftie? And I don't mean politically, of course.
  3. So that chase through the slums. In case you weren't paying enough attention to the title, that crazy tilting camera has one shot of a mongrel curled up in the path, looking askance at this line of ragged kids being chased by cops.*
  4. Those cuts away and away to show the size of the slum did nothing for me. Is this a fun chase sequence or a recce for Google Maps?
  5. In fact, let's say it here and have done: the whole film did nothing for me. Not the characters, not the music, not the structure, nothing. I was bored.
  6. Except when I was being indignant with those out-synch bits. How come no one's mentioned those yet? Or do they just take it for granted?
  7. Not sure if the Hindi version would have worked better. I suspect it would but I'm not watching it again to find out.
  8. You want feel good? Go watch Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.
  9. Update: Not sure why I forgot to mention this: under the general heading of Opportunities Lost comes two versions of a dialogue Danny Boy didn't use from our Great Indian Tradition. This concerns a scene at the end, when Jamal finally meets Latika at VT and they kiss.
Version 1.

JAMAL sees LATIKA across a train. She turns and also sees him. JAMAL crosses the platform, across the tracks and climbs up to where LATIKA is. They fall into each others' arms and the camera begins to circle around them.

LATIKA (drumming her tiny fists on JAMAL's shoulder): I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! (whispers) I love you.

JAMAL kisses LATIKA.**

Version 2.

JAMAL sees LATIKA across a train. She turns and also sees him. JAMAL crosses the platform, across the tracks and climbs up to where LATIKA is. They fall into each others' arms and the camera begins to circle around them.

JAMAL: I love you.

LATIKA (drumming her tiny fists on JAMAL's shoulder): Kiss me, you fool!***


Update 2: Here's Kiran David with a bottle of acid.

*For the best, the definitive chase sequence involving Bombay slums, watch Kashyap's Black Friday. That is a brilliant sequence, one that Danny Boy would have done well to have studied.

** Of course, this scenario is rather inexplicable, given the circumstances but that oughtn't to have discouraged Danny Boy, seeing as so much of the film already is.

***They actually went with this version but left out the crucial 'you fool'. Everyone knows millionaires are not fools.


Ludwig said...

Apparently the chase was based on the Black Friday scene. We got this wrong in a quiz recently, having said City of God instead!

Space Bar said...

Ludwig: then he must've been watching it through some repellently tinted shades, no? He obviously learnt nothing from it. Huh.

blackmamba said...

It did help that I watched the film before it became _the_ movie of the year.

Thinking it would run for just 1 week in town + trying to support _indie_ movies involving India being the main motivation.

These days watching Slumdog seems to have become one of these religious is a twee movie.

kuffir said...

yes, he's leftie. haven't seen the movie but i find the music very irritating.

Banno said...

Haven't yet seen the film. And getting thoroughly put off first by the hype, and then, by the reactions of everyone I know. No one seems to have liked it.

Hari said...

Space - I am surprised by the reactions I am seeing on blogs. I really liked the movie, and felt it was great entertainment. I liked the music too. Makes me wonder if something has changed in me in the eight years I've been abroad!

But I'll be watching Black Friday soon - it's been on the Netflix queue for a while.

Szerelem said...

Haven't seen it yet.

But shouldn't it be AB and Aby?

Space Bar said...

BM: I've been wondering if that would have made a difference and I think it wouldn't. It's a bad film whichever way you look at it.

Kufr: Thanks. I didn't know that.

Banno: No, no, please watch aa do a Ghajini type post, no? I have to say, though, that despite everything, I hope ole Resul wins the Oscar. We can all bask in some reflected glory, in public.

Hari: Post about why you liked it, no?

Space Bar said...

szer: you're probably right. AB it is.

Tabula Rasa said...

thanks for the review -- bolsters my preconceived notions based on whatever i'd read both before and after the globes.

Szerelem said...

(I meant and *not* Aby - ah, typos.)

I was seeing Jai Ho on youtube and caught that last scene with the whole "Kiss me" nonsense. So lame and cliched. Still waiting to catch the whole thing on the big screen though.

km said...

Ha, you finally did post about it :)

I found the film incredibly dull. No amount of breathless chase sequences ("Black Friday" did it SO much better) and "Paper Planes" in the background (a great song on its own) could convince me otherwise.

But then, what do I know?

Cheshire Cat said...

Mildly enjoyable. I class it with "Chocolat" - both crowd-pleasers, and about the same level of seriousness.

km said...

What surprised me the most is that no critic (including Ebert) had any problems with the film's (awful) structure.

There is such a thing as hitting a genre's/story's beats but not without making it too obvious. The kid finds answers to all questions based on an episode from real life? Please.

dipali said...

Finally saw it last night. Liked the littlest version of Jamaal, and his part of Jai Ho. Didn't care for the quiz at all, and the rest seemed too ghisa-pita.
Would love a review from Banno- that would be fun:)

ammani said...

I am very scared to say this in a crowd full of people who know their cinema well. But I will say it anyway. I liked the movie. Not loved it but found it engaging.

It could be because I miss the buzz of Mumbai. Or it was the first time in nearly 7 years that we were out to watch a movie as a couple. May be because of both.

Thanks for Kiran David's post. Enjoyed it very much.

Anonymous said...

*Warm glow* You get the Readers' Writer award, SB!!

Sorry, landed here a bit late! Yeah, like you I wondered if the Hindi version would have done anything for me. But like you, cannot stomach it a second time. The kid still hasn't forgiven me for the first!

But I'm not sure why "great cinema" standards should even be applied here. The film is mediocre Bollywood, no? No better, no worse? It's just our fare given back to us in a different language I thought!

Anindita said...

Hmm, I agree with you about most things. I like some of the music though, especially MIA's paper planes. But I realised that when I listened to the soundtrack not so much while watching the film. And omg, yes, what was with the aerial view of the slums? LOL at the two versions.

Anonymous said...

Nice post!

Regarding your point #2, at the risk of being politically incorrect, let me ask you the following question:

Okay, so imagine you're a superstar doing a round of the slums and visiting your adoring masses. And a little boy covered in shit holds out a little piece of paper with your photograph on it for an autograph. Logic dictates that the piece of paper might have some... er, collateral damage from the excursion to the netherlands that the poor boy's just been through.

Which hand would you sign the autograph with?

A. The hand you eat with.
B. The hand you wipe your arse with.
C. Neither. My security guards wouldn't let the kid get this far.
D. Neither. It is (already) written.


Anonymous said...

On the dot. What's the fuss about, really!