Samir Chopra February 24, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire and Cricket

However, Slumdog has done well with regards to cricket in another regard
48

This is the day after the Oscars so it's only natural that I would write about Slumdog Millionaire. My central critique of the movie has already been made, much more eloquently than I ever could, by Mukul Kesavan in the Telegraph. I have, however, as a fan of cricket and the Indian fan, another complaint about the movie, which centers on roughly the same complaint that Kesavan made: the movie does not make the suspension of disbelief easy.

For a crucial question in the movie, the one which catapults Jamal into the realm of the big bucks involves a question about cricket. Right off the bat (pun intended), this is a mistake. Why would a question about cricket, and cricket statistics at that, be placed in such a crucial moneyed category of the quiz? Especially when that quiz is taking place in India, home to obsessive statisticians and numerologists, trained for years by the brutal alphabet soup of school exams like the ICSE, CBSE, NTSE, ISC, IIT-JEE, AFMC, and all of the rest, to be the world's best crammers and memorizers?

But that's not the worst part. The true indicator that the film-makers thought so poorly of Indian fans and their cricketing knowledge is that the question asked is (no, not how many centuries Don Bradman made - that's printed on each Indian child's janampatri), wait for it, "Who made the most centuries in first-class cricket?" I was watching this movie at a large suburban movieplex, and I'm afraid my loud guffaws and chortles at this point might have made me a bit unpopular. It certainly earned me a dig in the ribs from my wife.

Oh, sure, I'll acknowledge the film-makers were clever enough to make this question one that Jamal struggles with. See, they seem to be saying, this is one question that every Indian would know, and that precisely is the question that our Slumdog seems to be ignorant about. Doesn't this show his disconnection from the mainstream? Yes, but what the heck is it doing as the 10-lakh rupee question? In the pantheon of cricket statistics questions, this one is not even a minor deity. Rather than the police torturing Jamal, they should have hauled the show's question-devisers off to the brig for a well-deserved thrashing.

However, Slumdog has done well with regards to cricket in another regard. It dutifully includes a scene in which cricket is being shown on the television, as a vital encounter between the movie's central protagonists takes place. And that little bit of cricket captures a painful moment for Indian fans. Not as painful as say, losing to Pakistan in the 1999 Chennai Test, but reasonably heart-ache inducing. The frustration it induces in Javed the Ganglord is palpable and quite likely to evoke sympathetic reactions in those viewers who watched the incident in question.

So, perhaps Slumdog's best contribution to the role of cricket in future editions of Kaun Banega Crorepati (er, sorry, Who Wants to be a Millionaire) will be two questions.

Question 1: In the movie Slumdog Millionaire, which ridiculously easy question about cricket was masqueraded as a challenging one?

a) Who made the most centuries in Test cricket b) Which cricketer was nicknamed "The Don" c) Which country did Donald Bradman play for d) Who made the most centuries in first-class cricket

Question 2: In Slumdog Millionaire which cricketing incident serves to induce a fit in the gangster Javed?

a) Tendulkar being run out for 99 b) Steve Bucknor giving Tendulkar out LBW c) Mark Benson giving Ganguly out in the Sydney test d) Andrew Symonds speaking

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fanedlive on September 6, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    Him Triton, jealous--if the tale be true-- I came forward and ordered the pieces and played with him two and seeing the lightning streak on my shoulder he told me that he too

  • fanedlive on December 23, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    That's way the bessett answer so far!

  • fanedlive on May 11, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    Source: wow! good one Here's some payback: Thought for the day? : A crumb from a winner's table is better than a feast from a loser's table!

  • fanedlive on April 11, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    Hello,

    This is a message for the webmaster/admin here at blogs.espncricinfo.com.

    May I use part of the information from this post above if I give a backlink back to this site?

    Thanks, Peter

  • fanedlive on January 5, 2011, 23:07 GMT

    Hello,

    Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at blogs.espncricinfo.com have a mirror or another source?

    Thanks, Mark

  • fanedlive on December 27, 2010, 9:07 GMT

    Hey,

    Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at blogs.espncricinfo.com have a mirror or another source?

    Cheers, Mark

  • fanedlive on December 10, 2010, 2:42 GMT

    Hi, I came across your blog on a old directory. I dont know how the site came up, must be a spelling mistake, Your blog great.

  • fanedlive on December 8, 2010, 16:30 GMT

    Hi there,

    Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at blogs.espncricinfo.com have a mirror or another source?

    Cheers, Peter

  • fanedlive on November 13, 2010, 23:46 GMT

    Hi there,

    I have a question for the webmaster/admin here at blogs.cricinfo.com.

    Can I use some of the information from this blog post right above if I provide a backlink back to this website?

    Thanks, Peter

  • fanedlive on October 19, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    Have you considered the fact that this might work another way? I am wondering if anyone else has come across something like this in the past? Let me know your thoughts...

  • No featured comments at the moment.