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Disclaimer: This will probably be useless to the 90% of all moviegoers who probably have already seen this movie.
There’s no denying that I loved this movie, and for the most part, is deserving of the accolades it has received to date. That being said, though, it wasn’t my favorite movie of all time.
Dev Patel is definitely the real star here. He was clever and funny, and was able to quickly assume more serious emotions when needed. I’m not sure why Freida Pinto has been getting more press, she’s all right herself, but doesn’t really shine. Naturally Irrfan Khan was great, in his usual, understated way. Anil Kapoor gave probably the best performance in the context of all the other ones I have seen.
Being an Indian, I guess it was natural for me to feel a strong kinship to the story, as it meandered its way through Mumbai slums and beyond. There were parts of Mumbai that felt familiar, buildings I’ve seen, streets I’ve been on, so there was a connection beyond the plot and beyond the characters. The movie incorporated a fair amount of Hindi, all with subtitles, which lent it a feeling of greater authenticity. It may have been a hair quixotic–with its story unfailing love and the clean, near-perfect ending–but that’s what draws people in. Nonetheless, it was a story to which anyone could relate. That is probably what made it such a huge phenomenon.
The movie was an emotional journey that made sharp twists and turns, but never let you fall off. Despite the fact that Salim, Latika, and Jamal were raised in a slum–a place that probably few of us really understand, let alone have encountered–they were not distant characters, but ones to whom we could wholly relate.
It is important to note, however, that it may be easy for one to generalize the state of the slums to India as a whole. Poverty is present in India, but so is industrialization (as depicted in the film as well), as well as the clean-cut, beautiful, sometimes touristy side of India. India is taking strides towards a bright new future, but of course in order to secure it, it will need to address some of the problems. Corruption and poverty probably rank near the top.
Yet to those (Amitabh Bachchan et. al.) who think the movie portrays India as a third-world nation…I thought it was a pretty honest portrayal. Of course most people will not think of India as some backwards country, given the rate at which it has been accelerating towards the top. People are very well aware of that, especially in the U.S. We’re constantly bombarded with stories tracking China and India’s ascension to the world stage, alongside the ones tracking our clumsy fall from grace.
Don’t get me wrong, Amitabh is awesome, but I think he’s jumping the gun just a little bit.
So if you haven’t seen this film yet, go see it. It’ll definitely be worth your while.