Slumdog Millionaire left me near tears. As I walked out of the movie theater, I felt very small, my life having just been put into a global perspective. So why go see it then? Because it is a remarkable film.
Slumdog Millionaire doesn’t shy away from the hard, guilt-inducing facts about life lived in a poverty-ridden and violence-ready world. The movie, director Danny Boyle’s (28 Days Later, Sunshine) latest work, is based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. Co-directed by Loveleen Tandan, who assisted the direction of Monsoon Wedding, the movie is riveting from start to finish.
The film is told in a series of segments, or chapters, working in a slightly chronological fashion. Its premise is simple: Jamal, a young waiter from Mumbai, is about to win 20 million rupees on India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” but the complication is, how could an uneducated waiter from the slums know the correct answers to all of the questions? Suspected of cheating, Jamal is arrested and interrogated-rather, he is tortured.
The movie opens with Jamal at the police station, being beaten by the police investigator’s interrogator. Confusing and swiftly cringe-inducing, the movie’s beginning immediately sets the tone. Violence, money, and class divisions are prominent themes.
As Jamal’s story unfolds, explaining why and how he knew the answer to each question, a sketch of his life up to the present is illustrated.
Born in the slums of what was then Bombay, he was orphaned at a young age with only his older brother Salim for protection, Jamal and Salim are left to fend for themselves-accompanied by a girl named Latika, who, as you may guess, almost immediately becomes the love of Jamal’s life.
Each answer has its own back-story, and the movie moves quickly between the present segments of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and the childhood experience that explains why Jamal knows that answer. Viewers learn his story as he tells it to the police inspector, the irregular plot development a good tool for revealing his history on a need-to-know basis.
Boyle’s touch is obvious throughout the movie-in camera angles, music, colors, staging-and Tandan’s Indian background gives authenticity to her casting.
According to World News Entertainment Network, she herself filmed some scenes in India. Already a recipient of many awards, and nominated for 10 Oscars, this is a movie not to miss.
And although some might complain at the violence and grittiness of the story-it is uncomfortable and visually graphic-this movie is well worth a $10 movie ticket.
Ultimately, Slumdog Millionaire is about the inequity of the world and one man’s personal pursuit of a better life. It is about the love that endures despite all odds, and it is about the beauty of friendship that can sustain when little else can.
So find a moment to go see this movie – it may be painful to watch, but it will be well worth the time spent.