Slumdog Millionaire and what’s wrong with it!

After living in London for a year I became a fan of Bollywood. Last November I went on holiday to the south of India, because I was simply fascinated by Indian culture. I loved it there. I was fascinated, amazed, sometimes shocked, but most of all I enjoyed my time there. When Slumdog came out and was critically praised I was already wary of going to see it. But last week I finally got around to it and although it was entertaining, there are so many things wrong with it!

First off, when I was in India there was this show called Coffee with Karan (yes even when I’m on holiday in a foreign country watch TV) on which two established actresses had a discussion about the Indian movie industry. They disliked the fact that women are being discriminated against. For instance, a man of over 40 years of age can play a college student, while women are usually out of work as actresses after their early twenties. This is of course very wrong, yet India has a very different view on women than we, the West, have. They appreciate female curves for instance, even in popular media women aren’t portrayed as terribly skinny like they are here. Also, in many ways there is a lot more respect for women, yet in some ways Indian women are less emancipated.

As the discussion progressed, both women criticized my beloved Bollywood. They disliked the fact that there needed to be songs and dances in every single movie. Independent film isn’t as developed in India as it is in Europe and they would like to see a change. Slumdog was very much everything they asked for! And this is basically the only thing I liked about the movie. It’s an Indian movie that isn’t Bollywood. There is only one dance and this is at the end during the credits. Many people didn’t understand this, well, then you don’t understand Indian culture or Bollywood. These dances are part of India movie history and after all that drama in Slumdog they wanted to give the viewers a good feeling before they left the theatre. Didn’t that dance cheer you up? It was the highlight of the movie for me! You can view the dance scene below.

Next to this I found Slumdog a huge disappointment. First of all, the story is extremely traditional: boy loves girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girls. It was so predictable that I almost fell asleep. I loved the initial set up of the movie; there were flashbacks of Jamal’s life with every question. After the first few flashbacks (one of the first was the brutal murder on Jamal’s mother) the story got so predictable that I didn’t have to see them any more to know where the story was taking me.

Apart from the story, I thought the portrayal of India was extremely inaccurate and stereotypical. Even though I was in Mumbai during the terrorist attacks, I always felt extremely safe in India. Never for one moment was I fearsome for my own safety or for my properties. I was travelling with a group of tourists and nobody’s belongings were stolen during the month that we stayed there. Of course the Indian people tried to make us pay more for their services, like all people do when tourists come to visit, yet they never deceived us in a way as was portrayed in Slumdog. Maybe this is my personal experience of India and maybe it’s because I only visited the South (I hear the North can be quite hectic), but most of the movie took place in the South of India.

To conclude: there’s a lot wrong with Slumdog Millionaire! I still don’t understand all the praise that it got and I don’t think it deserved that much attention. It was nothing special! I enjoyed many crappy Bollywood movies a lot more than this pathetic attempt at a serious movie about India.

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