Slumdog Millionaire opens in Mumbai | Connect Asia

Slumdog Millionaire opens in Mumbai

Slumdog Millionaire opens in Mumbai

Updated 18 January 2012, 20:45 AEDT

Oscar-nominated film Slumdog Millionaire has finally opened in Mumbai, the city where it's set.

Amid all the hype, it's also drawn criticism for painting an unflattering picture of India.

Presenter: Alana Rosenbaum

Sushmita Sen, Actor, former Miss Universe; Mayank Shekhar, film critic; Danny Boyle, director, Slumdog Millionaire


ROSENBAUM: The cast of Slumdog Millionaire gets a hero's welcome in their hometown, Mumbai. The film's premier at modern multiplex in the outer suburbs, draws the city's who's who, including actor and former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen.

SEN: Now that I've seen the film, I have to tell you it's a film we should be proud of. It's just another film that's heart wrenching and beautifully made.

ROSENBAUM: The film is about a slum dweller who entres an Indian version of the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire and is accused of cheating.

It's made by British director Danny Boyle and has an Indian cast. Slumdog was released two months ago in the US and has been doing the rounds in India on pirated DVDs. So far, it's had mixed reviews. Mayank Shekhar is a film critic.

SHENKHAR: I did find the film was made partly with a very western eye, primarily for western audiences, and if the movie does well in India, I'm sure it would be because of the buzz it's creating. It would be a bonus for the director, but I don't think it was made for an Indian audience.

ROSENBAUM: There's been criticism here that the film, which is set in a slum, dwells too heavily on India's poverty. But Mr Boyle says he was just trying to show as much of Mumbai as possible.

BOYLE: We say and found that there are some tough things and some extraordinary things, but the thing I wanted people to take away from the film, which I found, and Simon, the screen writer sensed in his script is this breathtaking, breathtaking resilience of people, and the joy of people, despite their circumstances. That lust for life; and that's ultimately what we wanted people to take away from the film.

ROSENBAUM: Mumbai, a mega city of 20-million people, has become one of the world's most powerful financial capitals. But half the population still lives in slums. Mr Shekhar says that many Indians want the rest of the world to focus on the country's newfound prosperity, not its enduring poverty.

SHENKHAR: It's about a class divide, and one part of India is growing so fast , so rapidly and the other is being completely left behind. So I think the reaction has been that at one level that the movie is talking about them. It's those English news channels and newspaper columnists that are really perturbed by this, because they want people to see India the way see it. They want the world to see India through their eyes, which is the new India, the shining India with posh cars and great neighbourhoods and lovely houses houses and great industrialists and millionaires and everything else, because that's an India they're a part of.

ROSENBAUM: This is the version of Slumdog Millionaire that most Indians will be watching. The film has been dubbed into Hindi, and rebranded as Slumdog Crorepati. It will be shown in 85 citites and towns across the country. This is extraordinary exposure for a foreign film. Usually only Indian films are released on that kind of scale.

ROSENBAUM: In this scene, the cast of Slumdog Millionaire dances across a crowded train platform. The film is certainly Bollywood-inspired, but it's a lot grittier than most mainstream Hindi movies.Mayank Shekhar

SHEKHAR: I don't see this movie becoming a huge commercial success in smaller towns, despite it being an extremely entertaining movie. There are certain ingredients missing; They would like much more action, they would like much more songs between the action, and Slumdog Millionaire is a much more upper middle class, or middle class movie. A big city movie as it were.

ROSENBAUM: With four Golden Globes, and an astonishing ten Oscar nominations, Slumdog Millionaire is expected to blitz the box office in most big cities.


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