The Slumdog Millionaire and Danny Boyle Rave

I finally saw Slumdog Millionaire this week and, man, was it ever good!

The story of an orphaned kid from the slums of Mumbai (Bombay) who gets a chance to win both a fortune on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" and the love of the girl of his dreams, the film is obviously a bit of an unlikely fairy tale. But it's a fairy tale deeply anchored in the gritty, depressing reality of India's millions of desperately poor slum dwellers.

Not only was the movie filmed largely on location right there in the slums of Mumbai, but many of the extras and two of the young stars are actually from those very same slums.

Danny Boy...le

Director Danny Boyle was already one of my favorite filmmakers, even before I saw this masterful piece of cinema. He's been making highly original films ever since he first burst onto the scene back in the mid-'90s with the double knock-out-punch of Shallow Grave (1995) and Trainspotting (1996), both set in Scotland.

He then moved across the Atlantic to America where he made A Life Less Ordinary (1997), which, like the previous two films, was written by John Hodge and starred the great Ewan McGregor. The Beach, set in Thailand and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, may not have been as great as his three earlier, small budget films, but it was still a pretty good film.

And since then he's successfully tried his hand at sci-fi/horror (28 Days Later... in 2002), old-fashioned outer-space sci-fi (Sunshine in 2007) and even a kids flick (Millions in 2004).

A Grim Fairy Tale

As for the central plot of Slumdog Millionaire, some have criticized it for being completely unrealistic and I won't deny that it's (as I already mentioned above) a fairy tale at heart. However, the fact of the matter is few fairy tales have ever featured such gritty, depressing realism.

We're talking about a story that features horrific sectarian violence (something that is, sadly, still a very real phenomenon in modern day India), murder, kidnapping, intentional disfigurement of children in order to make them more profitable as beggars, prostitution, torture by the police, and the simple reality of life in the slums.

So, go ahead and say the film is an improbable feel-good fairy tale, but just make sure to acknowledge that it also features more depressing reality than 90% of documentaries out there.

Memories of A Year Spent in India

Having spent a full year in India together with my wife earlier this decade, the film brought back all sorts of memories, both wonderful and sad. Anyone who's been to India knows that the poverty depicted in the film is all too real, as are the child beggars, the prostitution (including the children forced into the sex trade), and the extreme wealth rising up all around this vast poverty.

However, the resilience of the poor that is depicted throughout this film is also very real. As is the joie de vivre that is on constant display from so many people who have so very little throughout the country. It's really one of the truly remarkable things about India.

Milk and The Oscars

Anyhow, now that I've seen Slumdog Millionaire, the one film I most want to see is Gus Van Sant's Milk, starring Sean Penn, but it looks like I won't be seeing it before the Oscars this Sunday.

Speaking of the Oscars, it'd be great if either of these two small budget films were to win. Likewise, if either Boyle or Van Sant (Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, To Die For, Good Will Hunting) were to win then it'd be a win for one hell of a fantastic director.


And, finally, I just want to ask one simple question: What the fuck is up with a bag of popcorn costing seven bucks anyway?! I may be of good Scottish stock and, therefore, cheap as hell, but I'm guessing it's not just us cheap bastards who think seven bucks for a bag of popcorn is simply going too far.

Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Friday, February 20th, 2009

To read a good interview with Danny Boyle about the making of this film and his love of Mumbai click here

And to see my list of the best films of 2008 click here: My Picks For The Best 25 Films of 2008


And to see my rave review of Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona click here: Lucky Day: The Bruce and Woody Rave


Or for another recent piece on film try this The "Eternal Sunshine of Charlie Kaufman's Mind" Rave (Featuring My List of The Top 5 Comedies of All Time)


For more on film click here: MikesAndDislikes Film: Home


Or here: Film: General


Or here: Film: Raves & Reviews


Or, if you happen to be a Bob Dylan fan, check this out: The 25 Greatest Dylan Songs of The Past 20 Years


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dan boyle

Hey Mike, Dan Boyle sure is amazing, the way he moves the puck out of his own end is SOOOOO valuable and he does it all with that diminutive frame, I think hes like 5 foot 9. And as an addition to an already great team in the sharks it truly looks like they are finally ready to do something in the playoffs. I cant beleive this guy also has time to make oscar winning movies!! By the way the reason popcorn cost 7 bucks is they give you five times more than when you were a kid. Dont want all that extra popcorn? Too bad!! This is the land of milk and honey so just throw the rest away like everyone else does. Cheers, Derek

A fairytale? More like a brutal look at Indian culture

Well I went and saw Slumdog this afternoon after work and I am sure glad I did. I am surprised that people have referred to it as a "fairytale" at all, since I felt sick to my stomach throughout the majority of the film! The fact that it opens with a torture scene sure set a harsh, realistic tone for me, not one of unbelievable fantasy! Yes, I know there was a love story and luck and destiny played her hand in the film, and all I can say is "Thank Goodness for that!", as it gave me moments to breathe and to stop feeling like I needed to throw up! It was a brutal look at culture in India, and the children in the film blew me away. I loved how it was shot, and I appreciated how the story was told. It was non-linear, suspenseful and certainly did not spoon-feed me as a viewer, all things that I love in a film! I also loved the "bollywood" type credits at the end, which enhanced the cinematic attention to detail. I am thrilled it is up for so many seems that that in itself is a reflection of the message of the film. While it is not my favorite film of the year, I am rooting for this "underdog slumdog". Lorena