Even before I saw this movie, I knew writing about this movie was going to be difficult. There is hardly a moderate emotion out there about this movie. Unfortunately, I was exposed to all the hype, hate and hullabaloo before I watched the film and tried hard to avoid/not get affected.
So one question comes to mind: What if you had seen this film without the hype and expectation? Would you have thought any different — especially if you hate it.
I watched it like I would have watched any film. I did expect a gory depiction of slums in Mumbai — based on what I had read about the film and comments about the depiction. There isn’t a huge suspense in the film, anyway, that can be ruined by reading about the film. In any case, I went there to watch Anil Kapoor who is a favourite, and I exited the cinema hall satisfied. He is consistent, as always. Dev Patel is the most impossible slum-dwelling kid. As many negative points as possible to the casting department there. Add Freida Pinto and the negative marks heap up. Both are as unconvincing as a Hindu African American. Totally out of place. Question remains, if the inspector, the constable and the ganglord could be Indian actors, why not the lead; the most critical? Dev Patel’s Brit accent shines through! I don’t recall but I believe there wasn’t a single Hindi Dialogue (or even a phrase) for Dev patel’s character? Irrfan Khan and Saurabh Shukla are a treat; Mahesh Manjrekar is wasted.
But it is a story. Only. And every storyteller tells a story in his or her own way. Even if it is a bit far-fetched as the movie is. Like we tell the story of Slumdog Millionaire to others. Each story is peppered with the storytellers agenda and style. To deny that to a storyteller is to deny presentation. And to that, Danny Boyle does justice. The presentation is just fine.
(Un)fortunately, this is just another unremarkable good movie, which will be remembered more for the hype and hoopla than the content, which I think was hastily researched and put together. This is a classic masala-film; directed by a Brit director.
The other question that comes to mind is how Indian audiences have (and would have, if they haven’t yet seen) reacted to 8 Mile (2002). What did the Americans have to say about it? What did it mean to the international audience? How many of us saw the movie as a story about a rapper rather than the social setting of behind-the-skyscraper America?