More than a month back a friend, who lives in US for a while now, wrote me a mail:
“Have you watched Slumdog Millionaire?”
Just one line.
“YES. YES. YES”, she replied.
That was that. The movie wasn’t released here, and I couldn’t find a decent torrent, so just filed it for a future viewing. Then more and more reviews started coming in. “Oh, what a score by Rahman”, “Oh, what a realistic movie”, “Eye opener”…
I was already losing interest (yes, after Black and Taren Zameen Par, I’ve started to grow weary of anything that’s both critically and popularly acclaimed). Then, of course, came the Golden Globes. And I knew that I had to watch it, before everyone started me asking that question.
There is a scene in the movie, where Jamal, the protagonist, takes a mid-aged American tourist couple to the world’s largest “Dhobi Ghaat” (washline?). While he’s showing them around, his perennially misguided brother with the help of other kids from the basti close by, cleans up whatever he can of the tourist vehicle that’s parked unattended (with the Indian driver deciding to, curiously I must add — for what interest would he have in the dhobi ghaat? — leave it unattended there and take the tour with the couple and Jamal) – tires, wheel caps, even wheels …
When Jamal returns with the couple, the driver goes all mad and starts beating Jamal, a half man half boy (only the circumstances having made a half man out of him — his age is of a boy) black and blue. The American couple intervenes, kindly.
“You wanted to see real India, that’s what I was showing you”, Jamal mutters (something to that effect).
“And let me show you the real America”, the lady says, thrusting money into the boy’s pockets.
If I were to write a summation of the movie, I could have hardly summed it better than that scene. Show the real India to the west, and walk away with international currency! Only, make sure you add a little Indian spices: spirit of India, colors of India, and cook it up well, and put in a happy ending.
Slumdog is well made. Acting is good. Editing is excellent. For that it’s worth a watch. But apart from that, it left me dry, just like the soundtrack. This stale khichadi served with fried kaju isn’t exactly my idea of an excellent dish.