Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Slums and Millionaires

I recently watched Slumdog Millionaire, and it was a treat to my taste in films. How the scenes connected and interconnected was simply brilliant. The general plot still seemed incredible to me, but this was covered by my suspension of belief. The child actors were great, making me jump out my seat for every suspenseful scenes. I could not say the same thing for the adult actors as they did not bring out much emotion from me. But the story did.

As much as I want to “review” the movie, I am overwhelmed with the issues discussed in the film. Watching the film, I cannot help but compare India with our beloved country. I'm sure that Filipinos who've watched it would have noticed the striking similarities, starting with poverty, continuing with situations that come with it.

After 10 minutes of watching, I'm already wishing the producers thought of having the Philippines as the setting, rather than India. The slums, the overpopulated cities, the trash all around, the beggars, the organized crime syndicates seemed all too Filipino to me. With the best picture award in the recent Oscars, I could only imagine the joy it would have brought us if the cast were from here. Besides, it would have brought more attention to the social problems to our country, and perhaps solutions. Why India, I can only guess. Poorer? Better actors?

We are much the same way engrossed with lottery, shampoo and cigarette raffles, and game shows, making PCSO as the top-earning government unit, the products as best-sellers, and noontime hosts as the highest paid.

We as a nation have lost hope in the government and in ourselves that we tend to fall in long lines to win that big jackpot or to wait starting midnight for network studios to open. I couldn't blame people for doing so, but I wish we could “actively” work to better our lives, no matter how hard it would be. Are we like Juan Tamads, falling in lines like waiting for the fruit to drop? I heard from news that Pinoy Big Brother is already auditioning, and thousands of people are auditioning every day. I am not good in math, but wouldn't it be more probable to get a sustaining job than to win that house and lot and millions?

There are news that Super Lotto is a scam. Dear heavens, I hope not. The tickets were raised to 20 pesos (with justification of doubling the prize), which left many Filipinos walking long distances, not eating, or not buying medicine so long as they can buy that ticket every single day.

The Wowowee anniversary in 2006 turned to a tragedy, with many people killed due to stampede. You went there hoping to win the million, you end up crashed by hundreds of feet. Tragic. There has to be someone accountable for that. I haven't heard a bit news about that lately.

Game shows are selling like hot potatoes, promising people to become millionaires. Few have won, and we are getting poorer and poorer by the second. There is nothing wrong with taking chances, but entrusting your chances to game shows is a tragic mistake.


sunny said...

love movies set in India like the Darjeeling limited! Slumdog Mil is good!!!! Btw, nice thoughts amigo!

kg said...

that issue on game shows has been controversial for years. for me, joining game shows is not bad in itself. after all, they are here to entertain, and without contestants, there will be no game shows. honestly, one of my dreams is to join a game show. he! he! but when you make a living out of joining or when you, as you put it, depend on game shows for your chance, that's when it becomes pathetic.

with regard to slumdog, I think every country can relate. [ok, kung di man lahat, most]. he! he!

Rico said...

I too liked Slumdog Millionaire, and it also reminded me of our country. Joining game shows is quite alright. I also want to join someday, malay mo, baka manalo (matalino pa naman ako! Asus!). But my dreams and goals in life doesn't stop there. As you say, it's for entertainment purposes. And it's merely a side trip or stopover to where I'm really headed with my life.
Yung iba, ginigawa nang buhay at kabuhayan and pagsali sa mga ganyan.

mordsith said...

[sunny] the fruit of a wandering mind. hehe.

[kg]yes, gameshows are only bad when it becomes the only hope. Las Islas Filipinas is the only country i know too well. :)

[rico]totoo yan, ginawa ng kabuhayan. nakaka-depress nga yung documentary na napanood ko tungkol diyan e. siyempre hindi naman pwede na basta umasa na lang sa gobyerno, pero may pagkukulang rin ang gobyerno sa taong bayan.

kaka said...

I am fascinated with indian culture. very rich and yet the country is poor. katulad ng Pilipinas. hay... makataya na nga lang lotto hehehe

ekstranghero said...

what is fascinating here is that there is no way you can prove that this is actually wrong.

as far as rationalism is concerned, this idea -- betting in super lotto and game joining game shows -- is supposed to be a RATIONAL act, i.e., it is the right thing to do. if you are to assess the risk-reward ratio of these activities, then you know you are doing the right thing: very low risk, but very high reward, albeit very low probability. (hey, no one included the probability in the risk-reward assessment off making decisions?! hehehe.) kung usapang logical, what philosophical law does betting and gameshows violate? nada.

but you said it super right: entrusting your chances to game shows is not just a mistake... it is a tragic mistake.

that being said, i will wait for my time, my right effing time to buy one superlotto ticket. just one for this lifetime, and whatever happens, that will be the last ticket that i'll ever buy.


and oh, the movie? awesometastic! but i think the brother loved jamal more than his own desires/dreams in life. he (brother) didn't do what he did (can't mention specifics, spoiler eh) because it is his dream. i think he did that for jamal, especially from the time they got latika back, and onwards. yes, including that incident between latika and the brother in that empty building.

HalfCrazy said...

I agree with you, Slumdog Millionaire was a treat to my taste too! It's just one of those films that will be remembered for decades and in Slumdog Millionaire's case, will never be forgotten. I adore the child actors too, especially the youngest.

It would be very pleasing indeed if it was situated in our country but actually, I think theirs is a bit more... brutal? Especially the part wherein people invaded the slums, killing Jamal's mother. Well I guess I'm dreaming when I said the Philippines being the location. One, the government would never support it like the rest of the movie industry so we see the influx of cheap tagalog movies na puro love story, I'm almost ashamed for the industry. There were many good films like Mila, Dekada 70 and a whole lot more.

The game show a real poor person could be in is Wowowee. They don't need to know about various strategies and answers like in Deal Or No Deal and Game Ka Na Ba na yung mga nakakasali lang yung may kaya.

I hate the Entertainment Industry (and most of the industries for that matter) in here. Hindi kasi suportado ng Government. Kaya ayun, puro barubal na mga palabas at mga artista lang kumikita.

mordsith said...

[kaka] yes, India is similar to us, as we are also rich in heritage and culture but poor in economy and government. hay.

mordsith said...

EKS, i do not know rational in its strictest sense, but i think it is not the right thing to do, at least not everyday. and you are right. there is a very good risk/reward ratio, but we could not just discount the probability, which seemed to me more like impossibility. and thank you for agreeing with me. hehe.:)
there is no doubt in my mind that Salim love d his brother Jamal, though I do not agree that everything he did was for his brother. I see two people who were given the responsibility to lead their own lives at a very young age. I see two people trying to survive life through different purposes, one striving for power and one finding a lost love. in any case, they set for themselves purposes to go about life, and neither one is wrong. :)

mordsith said...

HALFCRAZY, I also think that doing that film here would gather a bunch of criticisms, especially from politicians running for office. and yes, we are fed by a bunch of soap operas that are rarely original (remakes and from other countries) and films with predictable endings. Then again, producers here make films that would hit the box office, meaning these love stories are what Filipinos crave for. Maybe we as a nation are tired of problems and miseries that we no longer need to watch it on film. The happy-ever-afters are an escape to reality.

But I truly hope that we make better films. Indie Filipino films are good. They have good substance and good actors, unlike Mother Lily's films. hehe.

zarine said...

Have this movie on my PC but hasn't watched yet. This weekend, I hope. :)

Just a trivia on "why India?". The movie is based on a book called Q&A, written by an Indian diplomat. I just remembered because I was watching an interview earlier with a book editor who said that watching the movie made her think that it couldn't NOT be from a book; the screenplay daw was so tight, with the way the story panned out . :)

shengmarie said...

i will watch this as i have this on dibid now, haha. i watched Australia, love it, you might want to check it out too.

mordsith said...

[zarine] I hope you can watch it already! :)

Thanks for the trivia, and it's not surprising that it is based on a book. I wonder why it wasn't advertised as such, or is it? in any case, it's a nice movie. :)

[sheng] Kelangan ko na talagang mag-DVD marathon. :)

Grace said...

i love this movie! lalo na ung sayawan sa ending! hehehehe!

wos said...

on wowowee: kawawa mga biktima, tapos si Willy enjoys his luxury cars etc, may intriga pa nga kung sino mas mayaman sa kanila ni Pacquiao. Anyway, my point is, yung lifestyle ni Willy makes one doubt his intentions, or kung san napupunta yung dollars from foreign guests. I've watched a video (for academic purposes)of the autopsy of an old woman who died during the stampede, blackened halos yung organs niya. I hope you'll do a separate post on this Mordsith.

jeanny said...

the movie did an awesome job in capturing the spirit of India. It's not about Taj Mahal nor Sushmita Sen. It's all about the other side of their country. It flaunted the disfigured state effectively and brought out the beauty of India's character at the same time. It's an eye opener indeed.

my favorite line.....
"You don’t need to be a Genius"
said by the 18-year old boy Jamal Malik

mordsith said...

[grace] Oo nga, mala-Seiko ang ending. Hehe.

[wos] Haha. Maybe he wants to help people as he'd been poor himself, but I just don't believe that he is all about helping people, and not earning the big bucks. And I think, it is the management who should be liable for the tragedy, even deaths due to car accidents are punishable by law.

[jeanny] Yes, that's a good line. And I've met some people who know so many facts and trivias without being a "genius." On a lighter note, I found it funny when he knew all those trivias but only heard of Gandhi. hehe.

Ton said...

"Why India, I can only guess."
- Well, the book they based the movie on was set in India. That's probably it?
Most people would hate me for saying this, but I don't see the point of having this movie win the Best Picture award. I just didn't know which one to focus on - Is it the love story? His tragic life? Their tragic environment? It just became a smorgasbord of plots (recalling that dastardly third installment in the Pirates of the Carribean), and it just felt... disorganized?

"...wouldn't it be more probable to get a sustaining job than to win that house and lot and millions?"
- You, my friend, are going against a socio-cultural Filipino trait. Much as you would like to think otherwise, the Filipino is accustomed to the "Easy Money" mentality. Name one Filipino family who doesn't have at least one member who shares this mentality, and I'll watch Slumdog Millionaire again.

mordsith said...

zarine already notified me of this being based on a book, and, well, answered my question, but i still think the movie would have a good setting here.

i'm not saying it should win the best picture as I haven't seen the others. but this is a good movie. different from your perspective, i like how the scenes were connected into one story. and the love interest was Jamal's way of going about his tragic environment and tragic life.

you seemed like a psych major to me? haha. i think that there's a Filipino family, albeit very few, who doesn't live by such mentality. Who wouldn't want easy money? But it shouldn't in any way be the end all and be all of surviving life.

zarine said...

"It just became a smorgasbord of plots (recalling that dastardly third installment in the Pirates of the Carribean), and it just felt... disorganized?"

On the contrary, I loved the way the scenes were interspersed to explain how Jamal knew the right answers, and how the film used that method to make a social commentary. Methinks a linear form of storytelling will not work here. (I think I fell asleep halfway through Pirates 3, though).

It's still a tad too fantastic that Jamal had the exact experiences to draw from to answer the questions that turned out for him, but, as mordsith said, that's the fiction part and it sometimes requires the suspension of disbelief. I can live with that. :)

Ton said...

" the film used that method to make a social commentary. Methinks a linear form of storytelling will not work here."

If the purpose of the film was to show the typical Indian life in the Mumbai slums, and such depravity leads to roads in life that we don't want to take but are forced to, then this movie failed. I, however, think that the movie didn't want to focus solely on Indian culture, but chose instead to juxtapose Indian culture and use it to mirror the horrors of poverty in any culture and its effects, and in that aspect the movie succeeded.

Let me state it now that I think the movie is good. It's just not of the same quality that we're used to seeing Danny Boyle do. I also would go on record, as I already have in my earlier comment, and say that I don't think the movie is worth the Best Picture award. Best Director, yes. Man, if you were able to make actors out of kids from the Mumbai slums, you have to be good at what you do. But Best Picture? Eh...

I have no issues with the flashback-non-linear approach that the movie took to tell the story. It works for this movie. It gets the message high-and-dry on screen.

It's the prevalent plots and subplots that the movie created to tell the story. Every flashback is a goulash of events pointing towards Jamal's tragic life, how Salim took care of him in his own way, and Jamal's love for Latika. All of these plots were clear and it made the point of Jamal joining the game. It felt, however, during the entire film that it's building a geyser. And when we get to the conclusion, it fizzles out and fails to deliver. The zenith of the story felt like a cheat. I thought that we, as viewers, have been shown the story in itself in each flashback and it seemed pointless to have sat through the entire movie and witness the same thing over and over again. That, to me, made the movie disorganized. It had one thought that it sought to deliver repeatedly in different timelines. But that's just me. =)

Mado pasensya na sa long post. Parang bagong blog entry na 'to eh. Hehe.

zarine said...

Ton's comment above made me want to rewatch Sunshine (that's the only Danny Boyle film I've seen). I didn't get it the first time and I know it's supposed to be a really good film.

As for the other Best Picture nominees, I've only seen 'Benjamin Button', and I liked it just because it's my kind of movie, generally (schmaltzy and 'talky'). :-)