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Underwhelmed in Mumbai

I guess that it is in no way unusual to be totally underwhelmed by an Academy Award winning movie.  I wanted to love Slumdog Millionaire, I really did. And while I nearly vomited in the toilet scene, found the mother-killing scene very intense, and thought the orphanage/begging ring scenes interesting, in the end I was underwhelmed. Disappointed in fact. Many of the middle parts of the film lurch into “loveable orphan” territory, where we could be anywhere from Dickensian England to ancient Judeah to modern India. The structure of the second half was woeful. Such undeveloped melodrama with poor explanation of motivations. It was also a bit icky. Surely the way you would feel about someone you have barely seen since childhood would be fraternal – not romantic love. there was also no socially based explanation for poverty, and how Jamal manages to escape from it to the relatively well paid position of “chai walla” when you consider he has been parentless and by himself for so long.  Then the killer for me finally was the way Millionaire was depicted. I cannot believe for a second that it is filmed any differently in India from anywhere else in the world – prerecorded, not live, 5 episodes in one night. It may be picky to be concerned about the details, and maybe if I had been swept away by the powerful story, I wouldn’t have bothered to get so picky. But those details about popular culture things do annoy me. And I wasn’t swept away, I was borderline bored.

It is not a stellar recommendation when the music, and the final Bollywood dance number over the closing credits are the best part of the film. Although I must admit some of the cinematography was amazing. But definitely a DVD rental versus purchase, and possibly even a TV viewing would do….


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