Does watching a film involving relentless torture, sickening murders and blood curdling violence make us feel good about ourselves? Or are we satisfied because the unrealistic ‘happy ending’ of Slumdog Millionaire leaves us ignorant to what really happens in the poverty stricken slums of Mumbai? The audience remark on the magnificence of the film and its achievements, yet no-one stops to think about resolving these problems in reality. It must be questioned to what sort of person would pay money to see India’s poverty being sold.
Acid incinerates the eyes of an innocent child. A mother slaughtered in front of her traumatised children. Rape implicitly installed into the mind of the viewer. Each scene is emphasised with violence to supposedly show the ‘reality’ of India. The audience are forced to grimace in disbelief, cringing in their seats as they endure each astounding moment. Maybe it’s just me; but I find it hard to recognise how this makes us ‘feel good’. The only sense of happiness is the last five minutes with a kiss and peculiar dance routine at the end; I guess this justifies the graphic violence then?
It has been established that Slumdog Millionaire comprises of sadistic violence which shouldn’t be fit for any viewer. Yet, worst of all, the brutalities are not targeting adults; children are the protagonists from the very beginning. On top of being young and faced with poverty, they are the ones dealing with the appalling atrocities. Jamal at a young age goes through just about every type of horror possible and more, his whole community murdered and people still find this film entertaining? Just think about comparing a horror to a Disney movie – they don’t go together. Likewise, the phrase ‘feel good’ and Slumdog Millionaire, there is no correlation. If it is true then could it be that we are amused and interested in stories of the suffering of others? Do we call Slumdog Millionaire ‘feel good’ because it is not us who to have to face the misery?
Following on, even after this many still claim Slumdog Millionaire is an ‘exceptional’ film. However, it relies on the deprivation of children in Mumbai to make this successful. The opening scene focuses on men intent on inflicting pain, as they pursue children through the slums of India. With the bird’s eye view of a camera, it carefully concentrates on each scene of poverty in as much detail as possible and each deficiency is emphasised. Amongst this, the film demonstrates to the audience how underprivileged these people are – and this is where the film flourishes. It may be argued that the scenes of suffering and distress are a depiction of ‘reality’ in underdeveloped countries. However, this is just an excuse so the director could compile as many scenes of anguish he could get away with to make for an exhilarating film. Slumdog Millionaire was made with what the audience wanted to see in mind, how scenes of repetitive violence could trigger emotions. Each scene exaggerated just for sympathy and pity towards those less fortunate and when the ending ends happily, people ‘feel good’ that it’s all resolved.
Even with the over the top violence, there is still praise for Slumdog Millionaire at how ‘Danny Boyle is an outstanding director…’ But I do agree; only such a director could enable millions of viewers to enjoy scenes of impoverished children and to manipulate them into describing the film as ‘entertaining’. This is done through the exploitation of true poverty and misery, advantage is taken from the difficulties children face and it is then turned into a film. Viewers want to see violence; they want ‘action’ and entertainment and the director gave them what they wanted. Without this suffering, there would be no Oscars, no success, and no Danny Boyle. A story about the attractiveness of India would not engage the audience, it would be tedious to watch and so the opposite was done.
So yes, Slumdog Millionaire was an ‘eye opener’; it allowed me to recognise how Danny Boyle has taken advantage of real children facing hardship in poorer countries and how this is used to provoke compassion – making the audience ‘feel good’ as it’s an ‘exciting’ film.
Frequently, I have found myself being reminded by others that the film ‘shows the reality of India.’ So I must ask, why is it based on a boy from the slums, who manages to answer every single question correctly on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Does this mean that poverty concludes with a happy ending? The unreality is extraordinary for a film meant to illustrate the truth. Every possible option of violence happens to the same person in one film; it’s unbelievable and seems to be done just to please the audience. An implausible example is where the characters manage to speak fluent English after we have just watched through their life in another language, how is that possible? Or another where Jamal successfully recognises just who created the revolver by watching Salim use a gun. The unreality of it all seems to be put in just so the audience feel contented that the characters now live ‘happily ever after’. They can go home without feeling regret and ‘feel good’ it ended peacefully and this is one way that Slumdog Millionaire should be rewarded. Viewers don’t have to think about how millions of children are living that life every day without any sort of hope, the addition of unlikely events try to cover it up.
No, it’s not the reality; it’s the fairytale of India.
Similarly, the fact that Slumdog Millionaire has a happy ending is the largest flaw in this film and managing to disguise the horrific nature of the opening scenes. This was clearly created for financial gain. In reality, poverty prevails. There is no ‘destiny’. It is not written. This is exactly why the film was labelled ‘feel good’, the ending allows us to forget about the suffering, ignore it and act like everything is fine. It makes us feel good because the problems resolved themselves and the audience doesn’t have to think of the true outcome of poverty. If the film was based on realism, Jamal would have lost after the first question and he would have never of found Latika. This film becomes successful because it does not make us feel sorrow after we’ve watched it.
Unreality used to comfort the reader. Overemphasised poverty used to acquire sympathy. Extreme abuse towards children as an excuse for the director to show the ‘reality’ of India. It’s easy to be manipulated and see Slumdog Millionaire as an enjoyable film. We feel satisfied that everything is resolved and at the end ‘entertained’ by the suffering. It is not realised the wider picture in that it the violence is apparent all over the world. When looked into it, Slumdog Millionaire shouldn’t make us ‘feel good’ in any way. Well, for me maybe it can, as I did feel good when the film finally ended and I could leave. Perhaps, watching murder, rape and violence towards children just wasn’t my cup of tea.