Scenes of poverty and squalour may appear romantic to Westerners and to our snooty elite but for us ordinary Indians they are nothing new. They are an everyday reality. However, one wonders what sort of mind can find such images aesthetically pleasing. Party-hopping socialites (for example, Shobhaa De after all her bombast of "enough is enough" after the Mumbai attack, went and watched a pirated copy!) who are distanced from such reality may find this film an "eye-opener" but for us it IS poverty-porn. It IS slum-tourism. The music/soundtrack and the technical quality of the film is excellent; but, overall, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Slumdog MillionaireÃ¢â‚¬Â is unrealistic & overrated because:
1) The director seems to RELISH showing violence. Some of it (like the police-torture) is quite needless. And why was the boy arrested in the first place? On what charge? Was it realistic?
2) How can a boy growing up in slums speak such accented English? Even if one assumes that the language he actually uses to communicate with the game-show host and the police officer is Hindi (granting the director the creative license to use a language better suited for international audiences), there are 2 instances where it is stretched too far: (a) when the boy becomes a Ã¢â‚¬ËœguideÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for foreign tourists at the Taj Mahal & (b) when he becomes a substitute-operator at the call-centre.
3) When the boy uses his Ã¢â‚¬ËœlifelineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ during the game-show, his friend discovers that she has forgotten her mobile and has to run back for it. This is plain Bollywood masala! Did the director HAVE to make it so melodramatic?
4) How did the boy know who invented the revolver just by watching his brother use it?
How does his friend know about Benjamin Franklin (something which many Americans themselves donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know!)?
5) Ã¢â‚¬Å“Darshan Do GhanshyamÃ¢â‚¬Â is NOT written by Surdas. It is written by Gopal Singh Nepali for the movie Narsi Bhagat (1957). This song is also credited as traditional and originally written by 15th century poet Narsi Mehta, whose life that film is based on.
6) After winning the game-show, the boy sits on the railway platform and nobody recognizes him! Considering the popularity of the show, is that realistic?
7) Two glaring omissions: To get invited to the show one has to answer several GK questions over phone or Internet. Even after making it to the show, a contestant can reach the hot-seat only after qualifying through Ã¢â‚¬Å“fastest finger firstÃ¢â‚¬Â. All this is conveniently forgotten in the film.
8) And of course the greatest flaw in the storyline: programmes like 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' and 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' are NOT telecast live. As a result the entire structure of the film becomes unrealistic. For a film that boasts of being realistic such a flaw cannot be overlooked.
The Academy will lose its credibility if this film gets the Best Picture or Best Director awards.