Lets play this little game. And no, this doesn't win you 2 crore rupees,oops 20 million.
You are a citizen in one of those first world countries. Close your eyes and tell me what are the images that you visualize when I say India. Like in Who Wants to Be Millionaire I'll also give you options to make your job easier.
a) Taj Mahal
b) Beggars (specifically child beggars)
c) Muslim dons
d) Religious riots
f) More slums
If your answer is all of them and not much else, you are on Danny Boyle's side.
Now second question. Which amongst the following are thoroughly realistic?
a) Policemen and constables conducting interrogations in impeccable English.
b) Boys growing up in slums who go on to become thieves to make a living and in the process gain something more than just cash, a British accent.
c) A game show being shown live across news channels with what seems to be the entire nation hooked on.
d) The contestant being recognized by random people in the street. The contestant then having finished his round, sitting alone in one of Mumbai's most crowded railway stations a few hours later.
Now, if you think the answer is none of the above then move over to my side. And sorry, you do not have much company here.
For someone who has grown up watching Pakistani terrorists and Canadian doctors speaking tamizh , the above points shouldn't seem like major issues. But then I choose to apply the same yardstick and therefore ridicule the happenings on screen. Besides the afore mentioned movies did not go on to win Golden Globes.
Frankly, Slumdog Millionaire makes for a riveting drama. If I was born and brought up in the UK I would have lapped up every single frame of the movie. But being an Indian most of the movie seems to me like short selling of the true India to pander to the sensitivities of the western audience.
As stated earlier I hold nothing against the movie or its basic plot and the execution. An adaptation of Q and A by Vikas Swarup, the narrative which crisscrosses between the present and the past, is a delight and is captured beautifully on camera, starting from the initial "chase sequence" to the game show. Every single actor fits the bill perfectly, from the young Salim and Jamal to Shaurabh Shukla as Sergeant(?) Srinivas. The movie , though , belongs to Dev Patel and Anil Kapoor. Dev Patel wins your heart (besides the money, of course) with an understated performance. But, I would stick my neck out and say that it is Anil Kapoor who delivers the film's best with a calculated over the top performance. Freido Pinto looks simple and stunning. AR Rahman's background score for this movie cannot escape mention in any review and to state the well known and the widely accepted, it is simply stunning.
On the whole it is a good drama and any more significance to it will depend on which side of the Indian border you reside in.