Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto
What’s it about? Jamal Malik, a street kid from Mumbai, grows up and somehow ends up on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’, playing for top money. For the authorities to understand his predicament, Jamal must tell them his story from the beginning
Slumdog Millionaire is the favourite at many an awards ceremony this year, and has created quite a stir among the public; it’s a while since there had been this much discussion about a film. Perhaps it’s because Slumdog is such a feel-good movie, a refreshing change from the usual Oscar hopefuls which tend toward the more melodramatic, such as Revolutionary Road.
Slumdog does have its traumatic moments but even when the camera is whizzing through the Indian streets, overflowing with rubbish and dirt, it’s a fun journey for the viewers. This, of course, created the argument among some that Boyle has belittled India’s problems for the sake of entertainment, but there’s not really any obvious exploitation of poverty, rather a representation of the innocence of young Jamal who manages to enjoy himself even in the rubbish strewn streets. It seems that Boyle was eager to show us this view of a city, which for the majority of western viewers, is rarely seen in this light.
This is a fast paced movie and the intermittent questions on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” add to the tension, keeping the audience hooked. At times, the film jumps a little too suddenly so that Jamal leaps from age seven to about twelve in seconds. The one consistency in Jamal’s life is, of course, his love for Latika, his third musketeer in times of trouble, and this ‘true love’ story remains pure and innocent even among the gangsters and scum of Mumbai. This is an age old tale of the endurance of love, so while not highly original, it is also unlike anything else we have seen in a long time, particularly as it is also influenced by the Bollywood style. If you were to nitpick, you could point out how unlikely the scenarios are, and no doubt find numerous plotholes, but it’s best to just sit back and enjoy it all, especially the wonderful performances by the younger actors, who actually outshine their elders.
Slumdog may suffer from the hype and media buzz it is creating; as with any film, it is best to go see it without preconceptions of how great it could be, but it’s mixture of romance, drama, and comedy topped off with a great soundtrack will please most people.