Even as Slumdog Millionaire continues to reap awards and greater glory in its heady race to the Oscars, some folks have slammed the movie as vastly inferior to, and even a copy of, the critically acclaimed Brazilian film Cidade de Deus (a Portuguese language movie released in 2002).
Not a Copy
No, Slumdog Millionaire is not a copy of Cidade de Deus a.k.a. City of God although tis’ true that both are fast-paced movies set amidst the grinding poverty of wretched urban slums that inevitably turn into noxious breeding swamps for seething anger and frequent eruptions of violence caused by guns, drugs, gang warfare, police corruption and total neglect by the political leadership.
Both movies show the horrifying reality of the unfortunate kids living subhuman lives in slums.
In Slumdog Millionaire, these kids are forced into prostitution or maimed into blindness by acid and forced toÂ work as beggars while in Cidade de Deus, the young kids turn into monsters shooting and looting stores in the slums at will. As the bunch of runts talk among themselves toward the end of Cidade de Deus:
Have you heard of the Red Brigades?
No, but if they come we’ll kill them too.
Let’s make a blacklist. We’ll kill them all.
Paisa Vasool, Bhai
After watching these two gritty movies set amidst the slums of Rio de Janeiro and Mumbai, our verdict is that both provide a worthy return on time and money invested.
Unlike total trash like Villu or Chandni Chowk to China, both Cidade Deus and Slumdog Millionaire are Paisa Vasool enjoyable movies.
Here comes the big question – Is one better than the other? To us, the answer is a resounding No although others have different opinions.
De gustibus non est disputandum.
Cidade de Deus – Superior Acting
Of course, there are differences between the two movies.
Overall, you get to see a much better quality of acting in Cidade de Deus.
In Slumdog Millionaire, the kids are delightful but their older versions Dev Patel and Freida Pinto are embarrassingly mediocre.
Cidade de Deus is also more realistic fare compared to Slumdog Millionaire, which is heavily influenced by the Bollywood trappings of lasting love, escapist Indian insistence on a happy ending in movies no matter the depressing reality outside the movie hall and wildly fantastic scenes such as that of a young boy jumping into a cesspool for a glimpse of Amitabh Bachchan.
Whether it’s the violence, the setting, the gangwars or the story-line itself, Cidade de Deus is a far more realistic and plausible account of life in a slum.
But then there’s greater drama in Slumdog Millionaire.
Also, as the kids grow up, we see little of the slums inÂ Slumdog Millionaire but in Cidade de Deus the favelas or slums constitute the background for the whole movie.
Issue of Focus
There are other important differences too between the two movies.
In Slumdog Millionaire, the focus is for the most part on the slumdog andÂ chaiwallah Jamal as his life story is narrated in flashback via the novel technique of his correct answers in a quiz-show.
But Cidade de Deus has several stories (focused on the narrator Rocket and other characters like Li’l Ze, Benny, Diago, Shaggy, Knockout Ned and to a lesser extent on Shorty and Carrot) that might bore some folks and mislead them into thinking that the movie is unfocused.
However, we don’t think Cidade de Deus is boring at all because this collage of different but connected individuals in the slums also has a larger life of its own.
Given the familiar settings and language issues, it’s no surprise then that Indian moviegoers will find Slumdog Millionaire more appealing (truth be said we’d be surprised if even 0.001% of Indian moviegoers have heard of Cidade de Deus).
If you live in the U.S., Cidade de Deus is available with English subtitles at Blockbuster stores or the DVD rental service Netflix.
Slumdog Millionaire Review
Slumdog Millionaire Sweeps Golden Globes
Will Slumdog Roar at Oscars Too?
Bachchan Bitchin’ Bakwas, Again
City of God is a fine movie, and does not have the too-many-coincidences-to-be-true factor of Slumdog Millionare.
You have correctly pointed out that the performances of Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto are mediocre at best.
Danny Boyle was spot on in his choice of the youngest Jamal, Salim and Latika. But both Dev and Frieda look too upper class and polished to be kids who grew up in slums. One reason why Slumdog has not done well in Indian BO (piracy apart) is that moviegoers here find it unnatural that slum kids speak English. And worse, inspite of their so-so performances and rather fine work by the chota kids, it is Patel and Pinto who seem to be hogging a lot of limelight. While A.R.Rahman has done good work in Slumdog, it is not his best work to date.
Have you watched Salaam Bombay (made by Meera Nair in 1988) ? If Slumdog can be termed as a very good movie, then Salaam Bombay is excellent. Only, twenty years back, the west was not perhaps as curious as India’s slums as it is today. And importantly, being made by an Indian filmmaker, it did not recieve as much attention. Nevertheless, it was nominated for the Academy awards in the category of best foriegn film. Talking about coincedences, Irfan Khan had a small role in Salaam Bombay, which was later edited out by Meera Nair.
Two more movies are worth watching;
Dharavi (1992) and Chakra (1980) both take a close look at the life in slums of Mumbai. These are fine movies sans gloss and glitter.
Salaam Bombay has been with us for a while. We’ll see it tonight.
You should watch ‘Luck by chance’. watched it yesterday in regal cinemas . it is good entertainer and felt happy for my money well spent.
watched salaam bombay yesterday….I found it slower than slumdog…nevertheless,its much more realistic and appealing….it’s irfan khan’s debut film….
i am expecting a separate review for cidade de deus instead of a comparison review, i think that will give a greater understanding of a movie, than comparing with another movie. Another which is on par with city of god is requiem for a dream, though the story and plot is totally different, i had a feeling that both movies shows the same direction. Waiting for its review (a separate one)
Salaam Bombay is far superior to Slumdog M.
We’ll let you know tonight if your comment has any merit.
In the meantime, you can amuse yourself with Incredible India – 6.
haha..SI, next time please compare “Chandhni Chowk to China” with “Eternal Sunshine of the Beautiful Mind”..With your mastery on English, you can also justify those two movies are at par. 🙂
@SI: “In Slumdog Millionaire, these kids are forced into prostitution or maimed into blindness by acid and forced to work as beggars while in Cidade de Deus, the young kids turn into monsters shooting and looting stores in the slums at will. As the bunch of runts talk among themselves toward the end of Cidade de Deus:
Have you heard of the Red Brigades?
No, but if they come weâ€™ll kill them too.
Letâ€™s make a blacklist. Weâ€™ll kill them all.”
—The difference is Cidade De Deus does not show fabricated incidents as reality like SM does. Look at this Trivia below:
‘At the end the Runts (Caixa Baixa gang) talk about making a list of people they want to kill. The rat boys grew to become the now feared CV (Comando Vermelho) or Red Command, the most notorious gang in Rio. The CV is also known to have a death list.’
Source : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317248/trivia
@SI: “Here comes the big question – Is one better than the other? To us, the answer is a resounding No although others have different opinions.”
— The only reasons you have mentioned are:
“Thereâ€™s greater drama in Slumdog Millionaire” and “Indian moviegoers will find Slumdog Millionaire more appealing”
Well, an illiterate, normal indian movie-goer from my state (“Eelam” aka TN in your terms) would find “Villu” to have more “drama” than both of these movies and for a “slum dog” from Mumbai, Chandhni Chowk to China would be more appealing than any of these two.
In Cidade De Deus, the narrator (Rocket) starts by telling something like “In City of God, if you run away, they get you. And if you stay, they get you too.”. There can never be a better scene than the startling opening scene, where a chicken escapes from a butcher and tries to run away, to justify this dialogue.
Leave out the 2.49$ 🙂 , I will give you 100000$, if you can name atleast one intelligent scene in SM, like the one above.
1. Besides the drama in Slumdog Millionaire, we also mentioned the fine acting by the kids.
Ultimately, a movie is about creating compelling, gripping drama in 90, 120, 150 or 180 minutes….Slumdog Millionaire accomplishes that well as does Cidade de Deus.
2. There are a few other highlights of Slumdog Millionaire that we did not mention in this post but have done elsewhere (both in our original review and in the responses to the comments). For instance:
3. You write above: The difference is Cidade De Deus does not show fabricated incidents as reality like SM does
There is no dispute here.
Yes, we did mention above that Cidade de Deus is a far more realistic, plausible version of life in the favelas (slums).
4. You write: Well, an illiterate, normal indian movie-goer from my state (“Eelam” aka TN in your terms) would find “Villu” to have more “drama”
Literates, semi-literates, illiterates and even the kosus (mosquitoes) from Eelam a.k.a. Tamil Nadu have all shown Villu the middle finger.
I was wondering how far on the netflix list is Usual Suspects. Thanks
We’ve moved Usual Suspects up to No-1 now.
Tomorrow, we’re getting Gul Panag’s Summer 2007 & a Danish movie After the Wedding. After that, it’ll be Usual Suspects.
Usual Suspects, Nice movie, but it was somewhat predictable to be a great suspense thriller, IMO. If there is one reason that makes this movie a must watch it is – Kevin Spacey, who is at his brilliant best!!
@SI : “Literates, semi-literates, illiterates and even the kosus (mosquitoes) from Eelam a.k.a. Tamil Nadu have all shown Villu the middle finger.”
hahahaha..now they have dubbed Slumdog in tamil as “Naanum Kodeeswaran” (I am also a crorepathi). I can’t wait for the day, when I happily post a message in this board pointing you that people from MY state (not your’s) 🙂 have actually shown all their FOUR middle fingers to that!!!!!
BTW, looks like it is going to be the “Chimpanzee” Simbu who is gonna dub for Dev Patel….hahaha…just can’t wait to LMAO the day I watch it.
You write above: I can’t wait for the day, when I happily post a message in this board pointing you that people from MY state … have actually shown all their FOUR middle fingers to that!!!!!
From what we gather through the news reports, Indian moviegoers have generally been bringing their palms together (not lifting their fingers up) in appreciation of Slumdog Millionaire.
@SI : “From what we gather through the news reports, Indian moviegoers have generally been bringing their palms together (not lifting their fingers up) in appreciation of Slumdog Millionaire.”
Oh, really? Do you know one city in India where this movie is a hit? Can you go through your “news reports” and see if indian movie goers have managed to give at least one houseful show to this piece of shit??
Just heard from my friend in Hyderabad that he saw a board in a theater which read “Buy One Ticket..Get 4 tickets absolutely FREE”.. 🙂
I advice you to start following a few authentic news reports..
1. You write: Just heard from my friend in Hyderabad that he saw a board in a theater which read “Buy One Ticket..Get 4 tickets absolutely FREE”..
Ha ha ha
Yeah, yeah, just heard from our friend in New York that when he went to the Roosevelt Mall in Long Island he saw MGR singing Kaatru Vaanga Ponen with Julia Roberts.
2. Despite the massive piracy (DVDs/cable networks/University LANs/Illegal downloads), Slumdog Millionaire has done reasonable well.
Please see below:
See this story from LiveMint (Hindustan Times’ Business daily – â€˜Slumdogâ€™ comes up trumps again.
Here’s the story from Economic Times – ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ not a slumdog at the Box Office
“Rs 13.5 crore in India and Rs 360 crore worldwide” – I would call that a slumdog at the Indian box office.
Why are we going ga-ga over this movie now?? especially after the golden globes and oscars?
Box office returns mentioned above are because of the hype generated with all those foreign awards and indian media. Can you imagine the fate of this movie if it had been released in India first (left to its own merit so to speak)…
I would like to read the reviews on this movie then..
Anyway, there are many great movies out there which are not recognized by america and the west, please find such movies (brazil/tamil whatever) and write reviews on them. We will read them happily.
Oh and City of God >>> Slumdog Millionaire.
You write above: Can you imagine the fate of this movie if it had been released in India first (left to its own merit so to speak)…
It’d still have been a popular film.
I second Shyam22..
The box office figures we see now is only because the over hype generated by the media. The drop in ticket sales from the third week onwards is a proof of that. If the movie is really good, then it should have been the opposite. We just cannot blame it on piracy alone. If video piracy would dampen a movie’s success, then no movie in India would cross 25 days!.
One change I would make to what Shyam22 said is:
City Of God >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>…(infinity)>SM
SI, when can we expect Naan Kadavul review?
Here is Naan Kadavul Review.
BTW, that MGR-Julia Roberts thing was a good one 🙂 !
Watched that video in that link. ha ha ha.His antics were very comical.
But not anywhere near my all-time classic comedy , Eeeeeeeeeeeep Uuuu Cum Today……Doooorlinnnnnn.
If you have not seen it, here is the link:
1. Tik Tik Tik Tik…. Yes, your video link is a classic. Absolutely hilarious. Thanks.
BTW, the video has got 446,022 views & 617 comments.
Folks, after watching the video in karthik15981’s link above you’ve got to read the comments below. The comments are absolutely hilarious (some are as funny as the video).
Here’s a sample of the comments on YouTube for the song:
shashankbv (3 weeks ago) – I want to stop laughing can some body tell me how…
psychoblah86 (1 month ago) – What? This song didn’t win a Grammy?! No!
jozb123 (1 week ago) – When does he want me to come?
He has impossible standards.
I can’t come in today or tomorrow. I can’t come during morning, noon or night.
raggied (4 months ago) – ‘if you come today its too early, if you come tomorrow its too late’ … wait so when are we supposed to come? lol hahaha .. this song is the bomb…ï»¿ hmm i wonder if i can make it a ringtone…lol
mathaphod (7 months ago) – now thats where bondï»¿ movies get their inspiration
& Best of all
MawaBuczek (1 week ago) – i just came watching it ..
2. Here’s another funny video – Love me or hate me. Kiss me or kill me. Oh, darling please do something to me. Not as good as your link though.
is that Rajkumar’s voice?
ha ha.. Thanks for pointing out the comments.
If the above link was Queen of English singing comedy, then this one below is, without doubt, the King of English speaking comedy..
I challenge any viewers here. If anyone can tell me the meaning of the dialogue in the above link, I will be your slave for the rest of my life.. 🙂
And also, I came across this interesting link.
No clue on what to infer from it though…
1. We think Indians are accidental masters of the comedy genre.
Every Indian movie-maker or actor is a Vadivelu or Johnny Walker.
2. As for your French video, we don’t think there is any deep meaning in it.
Looks like just a Rajini fan-boy’s clip-and-paste effort.
3. You write: If the above link was Queen of English singing comedy, then this one below is, without doubt, the King of English speaking comedy..
Our Tamil makkal want this kind of stuff.