Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Reader Vs. Slumdog Millionnaire

The Reader. What a movie! So perfectly made and so perfectly performed by Kate Winslet and Ralph Piennes, its mindblowing. The movie is about an illiterate woman who is ashamed of her inability to read and write. It's about an illicit affair that she starts with a 15 year old boy and how it grows into a beautiful one over a lifetime. So simple and yet picturized so well that it's actually gripping.

I won't write more about the reader but it made me finally write about Slumdog Millionnaire. Before I begin, disclaimer – I am proud that A.R. Rehman got two Oscars for Slumdog but I also feel that if this song got him Oscar he deserves Oscar for more that 90% of his songs; infact I cant recall any of his song which was bad.

So why did the reader make me write about Slumdog. Because now, I finally know why I didn't like Slumdog. When I first watched Slumdog, I was like – "ok… a good movie… but not an Oscar good movie". It's just not a well made or well directed one. Just because you show one heart wrenching scene after another, you don't make a good movie. The love story was a beaten to death story. And even if we discount that factor, the love story didn't really seem like the centre story. Its was poverty, the infamous jumping into the river of human shit, eye being popped out of children, the beggary, animal like policemen, how kids travel on the train tops, how they steal food because of hunger, how a show like "Who wants to be a Millionnaire?" will not allow a chaiwala to be a contestant. Yes, these were the central characters. These are the scenes that move you and get captured in your mind for a long time after you watch the movie. Cut, to the reader. Set in the backdrop of Hitler's Germany and concentration camps and suchlike horror, the movie is not about the Germans, the Jews, the Second World War or anything except that one woman. The backdrop is just backdrop, supporting the story so beautifully that you admire the guy who actually wrote it. The actors play their characters so well that you can't help but admire them wholeheartedly. A British Kate speaks German English so well and the make up makes her look like those typical Germans. Cut to our Jamal Chaiwala – our slumdog speaks in British accented English (Remember he is illiterate?) and his looks so cute that I almost got a crush on him. He didn't look like a guy who has seen so much in life. He just looked like a normal cool college kid.

Slumdog Millionnaire is a well cinematographed, patched up story. So what do we have in India? Poverty, riots, orphan children, hunger, petty crimes, beggary scams, rapes, children jumping into human shit (please tell me who in slums, do that? I mean really…), corrupt policemen, uncivilized people (host making fun of a contestant because of his financial status!! Where does that happen??). So we have a list now. How can we put our hero go through all of this in time frame of 2 hours? Bravo, there's an Oscar winner!

What I want to stress on is that when I watched the reader, I loved the characters, I admired the film making, I couldn't move because it was so gripping just with the human emotions, and the fact that the story was set in a beleaguered Germany was testimony of the brilliance of the writer. When I watched Slumdog on the other hand, I couldn't help but feel a constant let down against the crazy hype the movie created. The story seemed like a patch up of various elements that were standing out like a sore thumb out of the central story. Like everytime Anil Kapoor made fun of Jamal, I just felt irritated by his performance which was so pathetic and the fact that there is not even a hint of realism in it. I have inkling that it was a bad movie packaged a little too well.


  1. Anju, at the outset here, yr latest post is completely antagonistic to my latest post. All I would like to say that I agree it isnt the kind of Oscar movie we have been treated to the past. But if you had watched the movie for all its worth keeping aside all the hype and hoopla around it. Also keep in mind, that since u are from the place u have a certain sense of understanding of the things. But to a foreigner its completely new and capturing. And I felt twas a very well made movie.

  2. I would definitely beat you in this argument of Slumdog Millionaire vs The Reader if I had watched the Reader!

    If only!!!!!

  3. So Ms ANJu and Mr. S*ee**t what is the learning here

    1. Thats how an Oscar is Won ( its not an Oscar but well made - confused geeks)
    2. To consider the music for oscar the movie should go to Oscar :). ( Taal was a good musical but it was not at oscars for Rehman to win the oscar)
    3. It was a movie. Movie gets an award for not being real but reel. So instead of asking where does it happen?? for SDM ( :)) ; why do not you ask the same questions for Lord of the Rings, Departed , Etc. Schindlers List and Titanic- like they have encashed on disasters !! :D
    4. Finally it was congress govt which has provided Education as basic right and other developmental programmes for which real talent was captured and fully utilised for the pride of India - made by Nehrus and Gandhis - torched by people like .......

  4. Mr. God, I think u have some big time understanding problem, if you read my comment or my post, you would understand that am in favour of SDM.
    I agree with you on point#2. And also as Rehman said he likes all his work.
    The 4th point is actually a self-goal by yourself, we can see how much development has happened in the last 50 years. But one thing is sure as long as ppl like you are around we wont see any change as you dont want any change you are happy being in the rut. Poor u, the likes of u dont even realise, that you are being used, misused and reused for vote bank politics and your so called messiahs laugh all the way to Swiss Banks.

  5. Movie is good but I would never want an Indian movie to win Oscars which is depicting poverty and all sorts of evil to the world and that too in an exaggerated form. We should promote the good part of India and win Oscars !!