Slumdog Millionaire (2008) It’s not Bollywood, but it stars Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan!


288644Just what does this remind you of: tragic mothers, slum scenes, orphans, trains, police interrogations, a love story, coincidences galore, super bad gangsters, great music, and references to Amitabh Bachchan. Sounds like Bollywood, hai na? Well almost. In my recent drift to not Bollywood but almost, (The Pool, Heat and Dust) I followed the recommendation of Renegade Eye to go check out Slumdog Millionaire (2008). The movie is based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. Shri Swarup-ji’s website has lots of great information about book’s transformation into a movie. From an interview with the film’s director, Danny Boyle:

‘It’s called ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’, It’s based on a true story, and it’s about a kid from the slums of Mumbai, who has nothing – he’s ill educated, he’s illiterate – and he goes on the Hindi version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ and wins it. And they can’t believe that he’s done it. They think he’s cheated. They think he’s getting signals from embedded chips in his body, or that there are people coughing in the audience, but he won it. ‘What’s clever about the film is that the structure shows you how he knows the answers. Certain things have happened to him in his life and they happen to ask questions about those things. But the real reason he’s on the show is to get in touch with the girl he loves but has lost in the chaos of Mumbai, and all he knows is that she watches the show religiously. So he’s not even there to win the money, but that’s when you win I suppose, when you’re not even trying.’ (source)

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the premier of the film, and just like when I watched  The Pool ( 2008 ) in a theater recently, I was surprized that this movie had some Bollywood stars, but this time I didn’t cry out “Anil Kapoor! Irfan Khan!” when I saw my familiar Bollywood friends on the big screen and avoided being shushed. Phew! There are several other fantastic Bollywood character actors in this film that my Indian Film Industry fans will recognize, like the inspector, Saurabh Shukla. I love a film on the big screen, but there are definately perks to watching at home where horrific scenes can be muted or fast forwarded and this film has a couple of those, so be preparred. I nearly walked out, but was glad I stuck it out and stayed. I loved the tribute to Amitabh Bachchan within the film and I wonder if Amit-ji has seen it. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s really a very sweet honor paid to Mr. Bachchan and I’d love to hear his reposnse to it. Ifran Khan is also fantastic as the police inspector, but who am I to say since I love all his work.


Anil Kapoor plays an arrogant host wearing a sleazy suit. He’s perfect! Get a taste of that HERE.

I LOVE the song Paper Planes by M.I.A. (Maya Arulpragasam), and was so excited that it popped up in this film, look:


Bollywood popped up again in a scene where people were watching Aaj Ki Raat from Don (2006) with music by Shankar-Eshaan-Loy and playback singers Alisha Chinoi, Mahalakshmi, and Sonu Nigam. Since I was in an art house theater I didn’t scream out, “Hey that’s Priyanka from Don!” But I thought that! I also thought “Aaj ki raat means tonight, do you people know THAT!?”


Just like many of the best movies India has to offer, this one has a score written by A.R. Rahman. Listen!

During the film I thought how it reminded me Millions (2004), and no wonder, because when I went home and looked up Danny Boyle, I saw that he also directed the sweet and beautiful Millions.

I’ve given you plenty of reasons to see this film, and if you’d like to see more, watch the Slumdog trailer.

p.s. Stop over the MemsaabStory for a review of the film.

p.p.s.  I had wondered about Amitabh’s reaction to his tribute in the film, which he has since commeted about in his blog, which I first read about in an article by Emily Wax.  Washington Post Foreign Service writer Emily Wax’s insightful article, Protests & Praise “Slumdog’s’  Mumbai Realism is Divisive contained a bit of Amitabh’s reaction:


One of India’s iconic Hindi film heroes, Amitabh Bachchan, whose likeness appears in the movie as the object of a slum child’s adoration, criticized the film for portraying a poverty-stricken India. Big B, as he is known in India, wrote in his blog that if the movie “projects India as [a] Third World, dirty under belly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky under belly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations.”

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22 thoughts on “Slumdog Millionaire (2008) It’s not Bollywood, but it stars Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan!

  1. Just heard about this movie on from Memsaab‘s write-up and you’ve just given me more reasons to look out for it! I think I’ll wait for the DVD to come out though, as I definitely will get shushed in the theatre for sniffling and sobbing through the tough parts!

    Irfan is rarely less than fantastic and I would call that a pretty unbiased opinion. ;-)

  2. bollyviewer, Namaste!
    Thanks for visiting and thanks to you I went to memsaab’s site. I check here regularly, but not in the past few days so it was fun to see her review too. I amended my post with a link to her great review. Right, I think this is a good DVD movie because then you can freely jeer at Anil’s character, shush free. Also, there are some horrific scenes that happened to the children and when it’s kids it’s even harder to watch without the help of the fast forward. I nearly walked out even thought I loved the film in the part that memsaab describes, which I won’t talk about explicitly to avoid a giving a spoiler. Ditto on Irfan. You may enjoy some photos and comments I have about him here.

  3. Yes, ill treatment of children is the hardest to watch and I’ve never understood how anybody could do it!

    Anil Kapoor requires jeering – then its definitely DVD-worthy. From the trailor he appeared to be channeling Big B (who was a popular host on Kaun Banega Crorepati). I hope the movie comes out on DVD soon.

  4. Sita-ji, thank you for reminding me that I was a BIG M.I.A. fan for a couple of years, in 2006 and 2007. (And, of course, my blog still incongruously has a name taken from a line in one of her old hip-hop songs.) Now the old M.I.A. fan in me wants to make a couple of points:

    First, the lyrics you linked to have the “sitting on trains” line wrong. I checked and a lot of people are printing “Sometimes I feel sitting on trains,” the way those lyrics have it, but it’s “Sometimes I think sitting on trains.” Or maybe a newer version says “feel,” but it was “think” before.

    I thought of that line because, did you notice, that this scene takes place on a train and at one point the kids are literally sitting on top of a train, but they cut that line out? I thought that was kind of strange.

    Also, you know, M.I.A. sampled from filmi music in three songs on the Kala album and quoted from it in a fourth. (Most of her sources were Kollywood, one was Bollywood.) It’s too bad they didn’t use one of those songs in this film; that would have made the filmi connections even more complete. But if I were sitting and watching this film and “Paper Planes” came on, that would have made me smile anyway. (Though certainly not the first time that this song was used in a movie. I remember it was in some stoner comedy last year, no?)

    Well, anyway, hope I didn’t take this too far off on a tangent. If I see one new film this year, this will be it. That’s a bit “if” in my case (NEW film?!), but I might.

  5. bollyviewer,
    YES! You will want to jeer Anil so the DVD home viewing will be great. I’ve seen some clips of AB doing his show, but he’s so much nicer than the Anil character. I read somewhere that Boyle wanted SRK for that part. I think he’s have done it well too, but I’m glad that Anil took the part.

    First off tangents are always welcomed here. I had a feeling if I mentioned M.I.A. I’d hear from you. :) Thanks for the insight into Kala. Here’s a nice listing of most of the music in the film I found on another blog:

    That fox official website is really a mess in my opinion, too much information, but not the specifics I want, e.g. simple track listing and comprehensive cast list. The fox site has ADHD.

    I was also fascinated with the tragic and haunting use of “Darshan Do Ghanshyam” which is from Narsi Bhagat (1957), a film I now must see, but maybe the song is the only thing that’s worthwhile, who knows. Here’s the song.

    Yes, I read some different interpretations of the Paper Plane lyrics, so I appreciate you bringing that up and you’re right, funny the “on trains” wasn’t used since they are literally on trains. If you click on the link for the film’s trailer HERE, about 50 seconds into it there’s another train scene where the kids are jumping on top of trains, and that is a new song I believe with M.I.A. for this movie, but maybe it’s from something else. The lyrics say something about the boys and girls and the drum.

    Rahman on working with M.I.A:
    “And you worked with M.I.A. on a new track.We met before but never worked before. M.I.A., she’s a real powerhouse. Somebody played me her CD and I thought, Who’s this girl? She came here and knew all my work, had followed my work for ages. I said “Cut the crap,” this “my idol” crap. You have to teach me. We started working in India, then we e-mailed the track back and forth. She did the vocals in England. I did the rest in India. ”

  6. Hi sitaji :-) Thanks for the link to the soundtrack listing for the film. It was absolutely a fantastic movie and I hope Rahman gets an Oscar nomination for his work on it.

    There’s a complete cast list here:

    You’d think Fox could have done a much better job of it themselves (LOL at the site having ADHD–it really does!). Perhaps they didn’t realize what a great film they have on their hands? :-)

  7. Namaste memsaab!
    I know all I can think about is DORRITOS after being at the fox site….wait it worked! I would be the film makers would be disappointed and the fox-$-ad-treatment of the film, but that’s fox I suppose. Thanks for that cast listing.

  8. Hey, no-one has mentioned that the plot of Slumdog Millionaire is the same as the novel Q and A, by Vikas Swarup. It was dramatised for radio and aired here in the UK last year. The novel was a best-seller. How come it’s not given credit in the movie promos? Sad if the ideas have just been stolen, as it was a good novel.

  9. Renegade Eye,
    Thanks again and of course it was a love story, it’s set in India, Bollywood by osmosis. :)

    Thanks for pointing that out. It is somewhere in the official very cluttered website, but you’re right, more credit should be given to Swarup. I am not impressed by the glitzy foxserchlight site. There are no clear comprehensive actor and musical credits given, though in the film’s ending credits all is listed. In this information age all that should be easy to get online, but it’s not. Memsaab gives an actors in a comment above and I found more musical credits on another blog, again listed in a comment above. I’ll amend the post later to include that. Thanks. :)

    Here’s a review of the book:

  10. I hope Slumdog M wins many more awards and accolades.
    I have a hunch that it just might prove the dark horse this year at the Oscars. Many ppl are going gaga over it and I cant wait to see it.

  11. Slumdog was excellent! But wow, not the greatest PR for India rising. Let’s see….unimaginable poverty, organized crime, exploitation of orphans, prostitution, religious violence, untreated sewage, torture, maiming, lying, betrayal, murder, unlawful riding of the rails….

    And yet somehow it was all uplifting. Even with call centers added to the unsavory mix!

    I really got a kick out of Anil Kapoor, cast as the TV host. Of course, I always associate him with the amiable simpletons he excels at playing (Rent Indra Kumar’s magnifcent film, Beta, and go see Yuuvraaj for the latest installment of Kooky Kapoor). This was a departure!!!!

  12. Nicki, Namaste!
    I look forward to hearing what you think about the movie.

    Renegade Eye,
    I went over to and left a comment on his slumdog post. :)

    Thanks for stopping in. I also enjoyed seeing your blog and commented on your Fashion post. I didn’t know there was a beef between Priyanka and Kangana until I read your post.

    Well said! Ji ha, it does manage to be uplifting, but I remember that Elie Wiesel’s Night was consider to be uplifting too. Often it is in the depths of despair that redemption and grace are most evident, hai na? Kooky Kapoor is a great naam for those parts he plays. Anil was deliciously sleazy in Slumdog. I like that you saw Yuvvraaj and then Slumdog, quite a contract in Anil’s parts and in the films themselves.

  13. The Ting Tings – Great DJ

    Imagine all the girls,
    Ah ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.
    And the boys,
    Ah ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.
    And the strings,
    Eee, eee, eee, eee, eee, eee, eee, eee.
    And the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums

  14. That’s what I’m talking about Steve! Love the song from the film. Seems to be based on the song you’ve included in the link. Your comment puts the movie’s version back in my brain. Thanks! :)

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