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Slumdog Millionaire -Movie Review- An enthralling rollercoaster ride of emotions

Category: , , , By Manu
Every once in a blue moon, a movie comes which captures the heart of the common audience as well as get the critics raving about it. Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" is just that. From the genre skipping director Danny Boyle, who brought us the hard hitting drama "Shallow Grave" , the exemplary"Train Spotting", the fast moving Zombie thriller "28 days Later", comes another emotional roller coaster which takes us through the highs and lows of Jamal Malik, a kid from a Mumbai slum.

The slumdog of the title is 18-year-old Jamal (Dev Patel), a survivor from the streets of Mumbai, India, who is starring on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? In the course of his fantastic run on the show, he has come under suspicion for cheating. The police begin torturing him to get him to confess. How could a street kid with no formal education know such obscure answers as what American statesman is on the $100 bill? (Plot Courtsey: Lori Hoffman)

And thus starts the journey through Jamal's life and how he came to know the answers to all those questions. The story is laid out before us in three layers- one is the immediate present where police officers are interrogating Jamal for fraud, another is the quiz show that happened the day before, and the third one is Jamal's recalling of his tumultous life. The three threads are woven dexterously revealing just enough to keep the story going. For every question he answers in the show he reveals a little more about his life and how he got to know the answers.

Resisting the temptation to reveal more of the plot, we're moving on to whats good in the film. Simon Beaufoy has done a great job scripting the movie, adapting it from the Vikas Swarup novel "Q&A". I haven't read the novel, and so I don't know how much faithful the movie is to the book; but it doesn't matter cause I don't think I will like the book better since I've seen the movie first. The dialogues were subtle, but yet quite revealing the gamut of emotions the characters are going through.

The direction and camera was admirable. The sheer color and energy of the movie gets you the Indian feel. The movie is 100% Indian, but yet made by an Irish Director. We have to give credit to Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandon(who co-directed the movie) for getting the real feel of India and for not turning this one into a western friendly flick. Like an american lady says in the movie-"real India". The captivating movements of the camera got me riveted to the screen without missing even short periods of silence.

The performances on the acting front just blew me away. The youngest Jamal, played by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, did really well for a kid his age. Full credits to the directors for extracting such a natural performances from young kids. Dev Patel sizzled the screen with an amazing performance as Jamal. Freida Pinto also does a really good job as Jamal's love interest Lathika. Irfan Khan, who is said to be one of India's best actors, is thoroughly believable as the inspector who interrogates Jamal. Anil Kapoor also did a pretty good job as the charismatic game show host. As I have reviewed the Soundtrack of the movie earlier, I guess there is no need to repeat how great the soundtrack is and what it does to the overall feel of the movie.

Danny Boyle's love for complicated characters is really evident in the movie and the best example for that is Jamal's brother Salim. He is a complex character who harbours love for his brother, and at the same time gets jealous when Lathika gets close to Jamal. With an inherent mean streak in him, Salim inevitably falls into the underworld, but still has some good in his heart. He is a character who is forced by his circumstances into what he is.

The movie is a modern day fairy tale, a rags to riches journey of a boy, a classic love story, and many more. The movie depends on Love and Destiny to carry the story forward and they did that just beautifully. Jamal's undying love for Lathika, right from the day his mother is killed in an anti-Muslim riot by the Hindu fascists, is endearingly lovable. Jamal never once gives up his love for her, not for one moment. They get separated many times in the movie, but Jamal's persistence and love for Lathika brings them together again and again until they are finally free of the obstacles in their way.

There are some "in your face" shocking scenes, such as s*it covered young Jamal, that comes across as endearing. The sheer honesty of the film captivated my attention. Jamal and his brother does not even know what Taj Mahal is and that is very true in most of the real world cases. How will a Slum kid with no formal education, who tries to go through the next day somehow, know what Taj Mahal is. One of the questions asked in the show is the words engraved in front of India's national symbol. The options are so simple that even a 5 year old kid would answer that, but Jamal doesn't. When asked about this he promptly asks a series of questions to the inspector to which he knows the answer, but the inspector doesn't, like the cost of "Pani Puri" in a particular shop.

My Verdict- The movie, simply put, is fantastic. An Indian movie that is worthy of an International stage(Yes, I said Indian movie. Even though the director is Irish, the movie is 100% Indian, but without the songs, dance and cliches). With 4 Golden Globe nominations, 2 Screen Actors Guild nominations, 3 National Board of Review wins, 3 wins and 3 nominations in British Independent Film Awards and an array of other wins Slumdog Millionaire gives us the perfect mix of cinematic aesthetics and public affection.The climax was so tense that I almost fell off the edge of my seat. This is one movie you don't want to miss. The movie is so surreal, that is feels real.

Political Rant (forgive me but I had to)

In this modern day Indian Fairy Tale, Love and Destiny has a very big part to play. But underneath the Love and Destiny plot, there lies a more profound look into the lives of children from slums, how they are exploited, and how they live their lives. The movie honestly brings out the educational and economic divide that is present in India. It shows us there is a whole other section of the society who are well under the poverty line and struggle to get from one day to the next. The thing about the economic development in India( for that matter most of the world) is that the rich keeps getting richer and the poor poorer. The nations which boast of economic development should really look at the growing hunger indices of their countries. Economic policies of the countries should be formulated so that the gap between the poor and the rich should be reduced not increased. I'm so not happy at the way our world is running.

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4 comments so far.

  1. sajal January 5, 2009 at 8:06 PM
    I simply love this movie...one of the best I have seen :)
  2. Manu January 6, 2009 at 8:03 AM
    I'm with you on that one.. simply the feel good movie of the decade..
  3. raj January 11, 2009 at 3:14 PM
    i jus saw d movie n i was taken aback..didnt xpect dis much..simply beautiful and beautifully simple..i liked the background score a lot.direction camerawork and editind were of high class..
  4. Manu January 12, 2009 at 11:14 PM
    right on the money Raj .. absolutely true..

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