I’ve been waiting longer than you know to see this movie. And now I finally have. And my verdict? I’ll get to that. Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire is a basic love story/pseudo-fairy tale told in a very entertaining and creative way. Jamal (Ayush Khedekar, Tanay Chheda, Dev Patel) and his brother Salim (Azharuddin Ismail, Ashutosh Gajiwala, Madhur Mittal) live in the slums of Mumbai. But after an attack on the city, they become orphans to survive on their own. They then meet Latika (Rubiana Ali, Tanvi Lonkar, Freida Pinto) who he comes to fall for, even as a young child. They go through many hardships together, sometimes even becoming separated for long periods of time. All of this eventually culminates in Jamal becoming a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? But something has to be wrong, because this boy from the slums is answering all these questions correctly when even doctors and lawyers couldn’t get as far as he had. So, one question at a time, Jamal must explain himself to the authorities how he knew each and every answer, all of which is shown in a series of flashbacks.
So what did I think of the film? Well, I saw two of my old professors there and we talked briefly afterward. I asked them what they thought, and they said it all in one word: brilliant. Everything about this film was brilliant. Let’s look at it one bit at a time, though. First we have the story. It was always the story that attracted me to the film, even before it started to get all its praise. And it turned out even more than I expected. The juxtaposition of stories between Jamal and Salim and how each turned out (one rising from the slums in the quintessential rags-to-riches story, and the other sinking down into its depths, stuck in its gnawing teeth and dastardly ways) was very unexpected. And the symbolism at the end there (to try and keep this vague and non-spoilery… themes of love and unwanted money) all converged tightly in the apex of the film. And while the final question was rather obvious (but still got a nice “OH!” reaction from the audience), you still had no idea if he was going to answer it correctly (because it was never about winning in that sense).
On the more technical side of things, I loved the frenetic camera work (which was more at the beginning and the end). And it mixed in nicely with the music. And on the subject of the music, I absolutely adored the soundtrack. This was probably one of my favorite soundtracks (at least of a non-musical) of this past year. The music fit so perfectly with every scene, always adding energy or dramatics.
As for the acting, well, it was great all around. I think the move to use real slum kids from Mumbai was (again) brilliant. For just being random kids off the street, they sure did a fantastic job with their parts, especially the youngest versions of Jamal and Salim. For the adult roles, of course Dev Patel shines through as the deeply longing and sometimes snarky Jamal. And Freida Pinto is incredibly hot. And she looks so much like Dilshad Vadsaria (who plays Rebecca Logan on the TV show “Greek”), who is also hot.
It’s really hard to review films you love in almost every way, because you get to that place where you don’t want to gush too much and it’s hard to find anything negative. If I did have anything negative at all to say, it would be that at times, some of the English was hard to understand because of the thick accents. But that only happened so few times (most of it toward the beginning of the film, which worried me at first, but that quickly went away). I do disagree with those people who say the movie is too straightforward with not many deeper levels. I found plenty of deeper levels, metaphors, etc. all throughout the film; you just have to know where to look. So my love of the film just continually built more and more until by the end of the movie, I had the exactly feelings within me that I had hoped to have in watching this movie: I had just watched something great, and I felt really good about that.
Royale With Cheese