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Posts Tagged ‘Slumdog’

Vikas Swarup – bad writer and rather ignorant, it seems.

April 3, 2009 8 comments

-WARNING SPOILERS BELOW-

Ahhh Vikas Vikas. What will we do with you? Why did you try to pack in as much crap as possible into one little narrative? Now I’m aware that the format you have chosen for your book, the random questions from a gameshow coinciding with events from the kid’s life in no particular order, allows you lots of “creativity” but why does your “creativity” have to have such lame and even ignorant results?

How did you manage, by page 168 (not even halfway) to incorporate film star pedophiles, Australian diplomats-cum-spies and even a Haitian voodoo practitioner (who apparently also is really good at sex, yay!) into an already eventful few chapters? I think just the regular poverty/crime/mafia/domestic violence/killing/slum-dwelling would have been more than enough to keep people entertained, dont you? I mean I would’ve thought that ridiculously philosophical 10 year olds with amazing vocabularies was enough implausibility

And on the topic of Haitian voodoo, get an education man! All I needed to do was look at wikipedia to know that all that black magic and voodoo dolls crap is bogus! It’s a myth! A MYTH! And it makes about as much sense as an Australian spy (honestly WHY would the Aussies want to spy on India, cricketing tips?)

I can clearly see why Danny decided to ditch like 75% of the book:

Mr. Swarup allows himself the occasional grimace in talking about the numerous changes in the script. But, ever the diplomat, he says the screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, and the director, Danny Boyle, stayed “faithful to the central narrative structure.” [NYTimes]

The occasional grimace? Faithful to the central narrative structure? Dude, the man (and his scriptwriters) turned a lousy book into a decent film! You should be pleased with how many copies of an otherwise dreadful novel you’ve been able to sell!

The novelist Salman Rushdie savaged the novel as “a corny potboiler” and “the kind of fantasy writing that gives fantasy writing a bad name.” [NYT]

Say what you want about Salman but the man has a point, I’d say “corny potboiler” is actually rather mild in comparison to what the book deserves. Vikas, in turn, never skipping a beat replied thusly:

Mr. Swarup was certainly stung by the criticisms, but said he understood the strong reactions.

“Indians are sensitive to the way their country is represented, but the film was not a documentary on slum life,” said Mr. Swarup. “Slums provide the backdrop to the story of the courage and determination of this boy who beats the odds.”

Oh dearie, he was stung. Vikas mate, I don’t think it’s the slums that are the issue… I think it’s more… you know… the Haitian voodoo maybe? Wtf?

More ranting about the book here if you missed my earlier post. Looking forward to more good times as I approach the halfway mark, lol.

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Categories: Literature Tags: , , ,

Reading Vikas Swarup’s Q&A/Slumdog Millionaire

March 30, 2009 2 comments

The more I read the more it hurts (and not in the good way), it’s one of those books. Let’s start with Vikas’ protagonist, Mr. Ram Mohammad Thomas. Firstly, wtf. I mean I know Swarup was probably trying to indiciate religious unity in his name, trying to make him the representative of all Bombay (what about the Parsis, Jains, Sikhs?) and whatnot but… really? Apart from his name, Swarup has chosen him to be his first person protagonist, a rather bad choice considering some of the language used in the book. For example:

I reflect on how good it is to have simple, uncomplicated ambitions, like shaking a film star’s hand.

This thought occurs to Ram during the first 1000Rs. chapter where he is supposedly a small boy living in a Bombay slum. The idea that a small boy, regardless of where he lives, can have meta-cognition of this level and be able to personally reflect to this degree suggests that he could be the next Tibetan Lama. I mean what kid of like 10 years old would be able to ‘reflect’ on ‘uncomplicated ambitions’. I don’t think so. And this is just *one* example where Swarup’s first person protagonist seems to have maturity and age (and vocabulary) far beyond his years.

Suddenly Salim looks up. ‘Do you think I could speak to her? Maybe I could persuade her to come back to Armaan. Tell her that it was a mistake. Tell her how sad and contrite he is.’

Speaking of vocabulary, Ram’s childhood friend Salim also appears to be blessed with an advanced lexicon. Even assuming that Swarup’s characters would speak in Hindi and Swarup would be pseudo-translating to fictional English, ‘contrite’? Lol. Who uses that word in general conversation, let alone a bloody kid?

I mean Swarup obviously has a decent understanding of Indian society, even its lower echelons, and Bombay (as evidenced by his recounting of how things in a police cell work, his characters’ preoccupation with the female film stars’ breasts and male film stars action sequences, cat calls at cinemas, etc.)… well good enough for me anyway, but his dialogue and prose is so spectacularly terrible that it makes me cringe. Rohinto Mistry this man is not.

And finally, the main plot point in the first 1000Rs. chapter, the idea that a film idol would don a false beard and come to a cinema screening his film to molest a pre-pubescent slum dweller (who by coincidence, idolises him) is so ridiculous that it makes me giggle (and pedophilia is not funny).  Now I see why Danny only ‘loosely’ based the film on this novel.

So far so bad, Vikas Swarup. I’m sure you’re an impeccable diplomat. But you suck at writing.

Random Thoughts on a Friday Afternoon

March 27, 2009 2 comments

– Apparently Freida Pinto has become the highest grossing Indian actress, bigger than Aishwarya and Katrina Kaif, after landing various big name roles in Hollywood including one working with Woody Allen (!). I’m wondering if the Bollywood A-List are going to bitchslap this newcomer with no Bollywood pedigree and who hasnt done the hard yards… or if they’ll try to get on her back and ride the wave into Hollywood. http://tinyurl.com/d2bbhw

– People who do those Herald Sun quizzes in a big group in cafes really loudly are annoying…. ANNOYING! Because I constantly want to yell out the answers while those dumb-arses go “umm” “arr” “umm”… 

Idiot 1: “What country is Sa…sas…sak… sask…. Saskatchewan a province in?”

Idiot 2: “Duhhhh… dunno”

Idiot 3: “Omfg what?” 

Idiot 4: “India? Afghanistan?”

Me (in my head): “Canada, you fools! CANADA!”

– Can’t wait to get my new iPhone on Tuesday. woOt! I’ve been iPhoneless for far too long now…

– Having finished Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” which deserves all the praise that it gets (it was awesome) I am now reading Vikas Swarup’s Q&A/Slumdog Millionaire… and well, given my extremely low expectations for it, it’s been moderately entertaining (while being as poorly written as I expected).

Slumdog’s Freida Pinto’s sexy photoshoot for Complex Magazine

February 26, 2009 11 comments

 

Hmm one has to wonder what her mum will think of this… and what will the Sri Ram Sena think? Will Amitabh Bachchan blog about it? I for one welcome Freda’s openness to such photos, they aren’t too racy and I particularly like this one. 

Her choice of magazine, however, is not so commendable. Nothing against Complex but couldn’t she have chosen a classier publication? Vanity Fair this is not.

Some excerpts from the interview:

Would you ever do nudity or a sex scene?

I don’t think I’d have an issue [doing a love scene], but it all depends on the director—what kind of work he’s done in the past. In India, I probably wouldn’t do something like that; it’s kind of taboo. It usually gets cut off at the censorship board level, so what’s the point of having shot it?

 

And her inanely bimboistic responses to some interview questions continue…

What’s the best way for a guy to approach you?

Back in college, if boys did the most stupid thing, like compose a silly song, I’d listen. It could be something really stupid, like a rap for all I care. 

Have you ever used your acting abilities to manipulate men?

Hmm… [Laughs.] If you have it, you gotta use it.

*shudder*…