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An odd ending to ‘Slumdog Millionaire’?

Slumdog Millionaire” moved me until the movie ended. And I’m wondering if any other filmgoers found it as odd as I did.

The movie, nominated for a slew of Oscars this morning and the winner of four Golden Globes (including best picture), opens with a young man being tortured by Indian police for allegedly cheating during India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” They cannot reconcile how someone from his impoverished background could acquire the knowledge that is allowing him to win millions of rupees.

He explains how he knows the answers to each question through a series of flashbacks to a startlingly disturbing childhood in which he and his orphan brother scavenge to survive (hence the slumdog tag). Amid the violence and poverty, there are moments of joy and humor — providing tremendous relief to the audience.

But once the movie ends on a touching note and you expect to see the credits start rolling, the lead actor starts dancing with the love of his life and all these other dancers line up behind them in a revue of sorts. This afterthought works amazingly well in “Mamma Mia,” but seems misplaced in “Slumdog Millionaire” — even if it’s a Bollywood production.

What do you think? Am I just not getting it?

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Aaron Landry on 01/22/2009 - 08:20 am.

    Many Bollywood films end in that style — an overly happy ending despite the content of the film — and I believe “Slumdog” pays tribute to that even though “Slumdog” isn’t a Bollywood film itself. It felt fitting to me.

  2. Submitted by Gary Peterson on 01/22/2009 - 11:45 am.

    I loved the movie and its ending. The film had us (me) cheering for the lead characters throughout. When they finally “won” it was great to have a celebratory moment — not unlike a week of inaugural festivities. It also helped the transition from immersion in what was “only a movie.” This one’s my pick for the Oscar!

  3. Submitted by Mike Cronin on 01/22/2009 - 02:56 pm.

    Shouldn’t this post be prefaced with a Spoiler Alert? When I saw the movie I didn’t know about the ending or this sequence and consequently I was completely blown away. I’d hate others to have this moment spoiled.

    As for your question, the sequence you’re referring to is an homage to the Bollywood tradition. (Not that anyone should have to be familiar with Bollywood to enjoy it!) I believe since it continued under the credit roll, it is clear that the filmmaker intended it to be viewed as a separate element from the movie proper.

  4. Submitted by Helen Rubenstein on 01/23/2009 - 01:13 pm.

    The ending also underscored the fact that the movie was really a fairytale that reached a happily-ever-after conclusion after the hero overcomes his squalid origins, passes a series of tests & saves the damsel-in-distress.

  5. Submitted by Casey Selix on 01/23/2009 - 02:48 pm.

    Mike has a good point about the spoiler alert. I should have been more clear that it’s what happens immediately after the ending — as the credits are about to roll — that struck me as odd. Now, thanks to you all, I know that a dance revue is in line with Bollywood tradition and next time it will be OK for me to leave just before the credits roll … if I don’t want the dancing to take away from the impact of the movie. Which is what I felt happened, to some degree. Nonetheless, “Slumdog Millionaire” is certainly deserving of its awards and nominations.

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