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February - March 2009


Slumdog Millionaire

by Aline Dobbie


Slammed in one’s seat by the sheer brutality and force of the corrupt cruelty being visited on the young man in a shabby police cell there is a feeling that the torture is being inflicted on you the viewer. It was about 20 minutes before I was able to even slightly smile or acknowledge the pathos and humour as well. After all I am a ‘princess’ not a pauper and whatever I have experienced in this world in 60 years it is nothing whatsoever like what I am being almost forced to watch. The sheer magnitude of the cruelty unfolds and gradually you the viewer become enmeshed in this wonderful story; all through it you are there routing for the hero and his little companions.

Slumdog Millionaire is the film of the year I would imagine and for the second time in two months depicts Mumbai – the City that never sleeps in an unfavourable light. The terror of 26/11 despite its horror also showed the sheer courage of those who served, and saved and fought to restore security and normality to a city almost paralysed with calculated brutality, but after four days Mumbai began to return to normal and the world turned its horrified gaze to some new tragedy and disaster. Well, here we are again…in Mumbai and for many this will be a taste of India that they would prefer not to experience but we should all experience it. This is a tale that starts from the depths of despair and cruelty and violence and slowly, but with a glimmer of hope, brings you to success, and a happy ending with tenderness and all that is good about humanity.

In the decade in which I have written about India I have endeavoured to give the reader an up to date vision of modern India touched with aspects of memoir and history. When something is ugly I do tell you the reader about it despite my critics who usually are from the school of ‘what can we do this is India but you should not point out ugliness…..’ Thankfully the producers of this film have shown India warts and all yet hinted at her beauty with some of the action around the Taj Mahal and progress in Mumbai. Most touching of all was the way that ordinary Indians in humble positions were so gripped by this amazing young man that they were all cheering for him and wishing him success. Good triumphed over evil which is the only way to end a decent film! As a travel writer and one who wishes people to appreciate and love India I do not know what the film will achieve – it could possibly totally revolt people but on the other hand the sheer vibrancy and pace might entice the viewer to become a visitor – I most sincerely hope so.

Aline Dobbie’s trilogy on India – India: The Peacock’s Call, India: The Tiger’s Roar and India: The Elephant’s Blessing is available from Melrose Books Tel: 01353 646608 and and all good bookshops. All three books are sold together with their own relevant DVD of the author’s photography set to evocative Indian music.

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