Let’s start with the good. The premise of using a game show to tell a story is excellent. In terms of device effectiveness it approaches “Rosebud” in Citizen Cane. It’s the execution, in the form of a horrible script, that makes it a stupid movie.
-Plays into every single poverty stereotype known to man. This is no surprise since the original story was written by an Indian expat who lived in Western countries.
-The game show questions chronologically match Jamil’s life perfectly.
-Presence of M.I.A. Paris Hilton can sing better than her. The one reason I think she is popular is because of the catchy hook in “Paper Planes.”
-How do slumdogs learn English on the streets? It would have been more authentic if the whole movie was in Hindi, which I think is a nice language. I don’t really go for Indian girls though.
-Awkwardly placed subtitles. I shouldn’t have to search for them.
-Too many scenes where I had to suspend disbelief. A blind boy recognized someone he had a fleeting encounter many years earlier? A first name is enough to find a girl in a city of 14 million people? An older brother who would do anything to protect his younger brother suddenly has a change of heart for a piece of ass? A little boy changed into an elaborate costume, pained himself blue, gathered religious props, and then wandered aimlessly in middle of sectarian violence? Police who wouldn’t at least flinch that a man is burning right before them? A new millionaire who was watched by everyone in India sits sad and lonely in a train station? Brother pulls out three suitcases of bills from his back pocket? One boy vomits when he sees a kid get his eyes burned out, but another remains cheerful and happy when he’s dipped in human feces? Etc etc.
-Calling people slumdogs. This is a made-up term made up by white people. It is not what poor Indians call other poor Indians. I don’t know how they got away with this. I can’t even call a girl “spinster” in real life without getting dirty looks.
-The older brother. After building himself up as a serious hood and reaping all the money rewards that come with that lifestyle, he abruptly decides to off himself. So he finds redemption while his pathetic brother gets the girl and the money, and because he prayed once on screen we’re supposed to believe he really has a heart of gold. Come on, that role is usually played by a prostitute.
-Wholly unrealistic. The beautiful girl would never, ever go for the pathetic, obsessed chump with not a scrap of personality. The main character is just too unlikable. I never wanted him to win, and I never wanted him to get the girl. In real life she would have felt quite privileged to be married to an rich ogre who puts her up in a luxury mansion. Instead she goes after the guy who looks more like a loser kid she’s babysitting. There is not a single scene which explains her love for him.
I must state that I had a bit of a bias going in. Way too many white people were stroking this movie’s dick, warning me it may be overhyped. The last time this amount of white people loved a movie was Crash, a steaming pile of contrived, patronizing dogshit.
In the end Slumdog Millionaire is a great movie for people who don’t watch foreign movies but want to say they watched a foreign movie. If you want to see a good movie that gives a respectful portrait of the plight of India’s poor, rent Salaam Bombay.
If you’re a Bollywood director then I’m sorry, unless you Westernize your movies you will never see success in English-speaking countries.