Huge night out

Last night Kate and I went out and saw a film together. It was the first film we’ve seen together since Harriet was born, and Kate’s parents did the duty of minding our little girl for a couple of hours. We saw the film, had a coffee, and were back by 10:30 to pick her up again. A Saturday night out is a bit different to how it used to be. :)

For this momentous night out we chose to see a film that is up for a bag of oscars. We’ll know within 24 hours whether it has landed any of them, but I think it’s got good odds.

Slumdog Millionaire

A huge, Indian film with gangsters, family, and romance.

This is probably not the sort of film to go to if you are dog tired. It requires a lot from the audience, with a large number of subtitles (done in an interesting way), two levels of flash-backs, and multiple actors playing the main characters at different points in their lives. But it is worth the effort, as the film is epic, well-acted and has an interesting tale.

Based loosely on a book, the idea in this film is explaining how a boy from the slums can know the answers in the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” game-show in India. In explaining this, we are treated to an amazing life the includes the horrors of slums, beggars, thieves and death, although situated in some incredible locations that are well captured by the cinematography. It intelligently covers themes of loyalty, religious intolerance, and the class system, but wraps it up in a romantic plot. I was impressed.

Given that it doesn’t show India in a particularly kind light, it didn’t really make me want to go back and visit. I can’t imagine the Indian government being particularly happy about the number of people going to see this film, from a tourist perspective. For example, I couldn’t imagine such a film being set and filmed in China, with the PRC’s tight control of media.

I have also read that this film is bringing about a renewed interest in Bollywood dancing. This surprises me, as I would’ve picked this as the least likely Indian film to spur a Bollywood dancing resurgence. The stars are not Bollywood stars, and there is no dancing in the main part of the film. But if it encourages people to see other Bollywood films, where there are real song and dance numbers, then all the better.

Or maybe it’s just the sheer number of people who are going to see this movie. And I can understand that.

My rating: 4.0 stars
****

As a postscript to this review, when I was living in London, I had a job that involved developing mobile handset versions of the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” game. Every time the theme music played in the movie, I practically had a flash-back, which made it a bit hard to focus on the movie at times. I don’t expect many other people would have that problem…

3 thoughts on “Huge night out”

  1. “I can’t imagine the Indian government being particularly happy about the number of people going to see this film, from a tourist perspective. For example, I couldn’t imagine such a film being set and filmed in China, with the PRC’s tight control of media”.

    Slumdog Millionaire was a non-event in India. It disappeared very quickly. It was at best considered noteworthy for its Indian music (AR Rahman’s Oscar win was an especially proud moment for the country) at worst considered to be poverty porn for westerners who needed their India poverty fix.

    You also have to remember that India can not be lumped with undemocratic dictatorships like China. India is more democratic than Australia, so regardless whether a movie portrays India negatively, the government would not ever interfere.

    Finally a movie like “Australia” with its references to Stolen Generation could not be made in China either.

  2. True, I was “lumping” India in with China only because they are probably the most significant economic powerhouses for this century. I wasn’t contrasting the relative democratic nature of these countries (nor do I think it’s relevant) – only the degree of support for free media. For the record, I don’t think Australian media is as free as it could be, and although I think we’re better than the US (for example), we can still aspire to the UK in this regard.

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