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Friday, January 30, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire : A Review

Posted by: danish Ahmed 11:53 PM

Suddenly, the impoverished, brutalized face of India is everywhere thanks to the Oscar nominated Slumdog Millionaire. Quite a few people including the legendary Amitabh Bachchan have spoken out against Danny Boyle's use of India's ugly face for his film! Tragedy sells and film-makers know how to make money by glamorizing grief. This movie has earned more criticism than expected mainly because the depiction of Mumbai's underbelly is being seen as a major threat to the image India has earned for its stupendous economic success in last two decades. The controversy continues, but, before i jump into it let me give you an honest review of the movie.

My spontaneous reaction after watching the film was one of delight. The script is ruthlessly upbeat The plot revolves around the life of Jamal an orphaned Mumbai slum kid, as he fights to survive in the dog-eat-dog world and overcomes various trials and tribulations of street life to emerge in the hot seat of the popular game show "Who Wants To Become A Millionaire?".

Jamal wins the game not because he is exceptionally intelligent but because he is lucky to face questions whose answers he already knows. He has known these answers not by reading but through the hard ways of life, each question takes you back to some gruesome episode that has taught the answer to Jamal .Danny Boyle takes the audience through a colorful and fast moving adventure of Jamal through these episodes in the protagonist's life which vary from cruel, horrific, shocking to joyful and ecstatic moments. Despite the circumstances the backdrop remains upbeat and optimistic and that is what carries the film through. My favorite moment is the climax of the movie when Jamal facing the penultimate question of the show (the 20 million rupees question) uses his final life-line to call his lost love knowing fully well that she doesn't know the answer to the question. Its the sort of sentimentality and optimism that only Bollywood movies could portray but Boyle handles it well.

Anil Kapoor as the host of the game show lives up to the expectation, his role may not have required it but his performance makes him the anchor of the film itself. Dev Patel's performance is stunning but for some reason i have confused him with Abhishek Bachchan and i am not talking about appearance! The real stars are the kids who play the roles far more convincingly than the grown ups.

However, it is a director's movie all the way and Danny Boyle has done a great job engaging the audience and taking them on the journey of a slumdog through his various emotional, and mostly tragic phases, which the protagonist overcomes through gritty determination and optimism.

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