Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

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Updates:

Feb. 22:  Slumdog Millionaire just won 8 Academy Awards. CLICK HERE for the Oscar Results 2009.

Feb. 8:  Slumdog Millionaire has just won 7 BAFTA Awards including Best Picture and Best Director tonight in London, England.

Jan. 25:  Slumdog Millionaire has just won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Jan. 22:  Slumdog Millionaire just nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Picture. Click here to go to my Oscar Nominations Post.

Jan. 12:  Slumdog Millionaire just won 4 Golden Globes for Best Original Score, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture – Drama.

***

A. O. Scott in his 2008 year-end article and podcast on the New York Times website gives credits to movies that explore the element of hope. How fitting it is to start the new year by watching ‘hopeful movies’. In this turbulent time of ours, ‘Hope’ might just be the word of the year for us all.

Slumdog Millionaire not only explores the idea of hope, it builds its whole momentum on this element, and its fuel is none other than ‘love’.  The movie is a modern day fairy tale, an exciting concoction bubbling with fantastic visuals and sounds, a post-modern alchemy of culture, language, and place. But what unifies is the aspiration of requited love and shattered souls redeemed.

Directed by Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, 2002, Trainspotting, 1996) and based on Vikas Swarup’s award winning novel Q & A, which has been translated into 36 languages, the film has garnered high acclaims in film festivals. Just four months into its limited release, Slumdog Millionaire has already won 20 awards, and is nominated for 4 Golden Globes including Best Picture, and 2  SAG Awards, and is a possible contender for the Oscars.

Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) grows up in the slums of Mumbai, India. He and his brother Salim watch their mother killed by mobs. The two boys have to fend for themselves living on the streets. They survive the deplorable conditions with tact, style and grace, until Salim falls for the gang. Jamal has a childhood sweetheart Latika (Freida Pinto). In a heart wrenching episode, she gets separated from the brothers. Her fate seems to be sealed as a young girl on the street.

Years pass but Jamal’s heart still yearns for Latika. One thing that unites all Indians seems to be the popular quiz show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”. With his heart firmly fixed on reaching out to his long lost love  somewhere out there in the mass populace of India, Jamal gets on the show, hoping Latika would see him. Latika at this time is in the firm grip of a gang lord, her hope of freedom is dismal.

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Yet, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, 2008 ) and director Danny Boyle gratify their viewers with some unexpected twists and turns, allowing us to savour an exhilarating end to the story. With their seamless, non-linear way of storytelling, framed by an upbeat musical score, they have turned what could be just another love story into a fresh and engrossing tale.

While the film features all Indian actors and some Bollywood stars, shot in Mumbai, many dialogues in Hindi with English subtitles, I don’t feel the cultural elements particularly stand out, drawing attention to themselves. Herein lies the success of the film. It has not led me to feel like I am watching something ‘foreign’ or ‘ethnic’, like some National Geographic features. The sense of place and subject matter, plus the amiable cast have all worked together effectively to transmit a universal appeal. The only Bollywood moment is when the end credits roll. Do stay for that.

Slumdog Millionaire evokes reminiscence of similar successful though lesser known titles like ‘Chop Shop’ (2007) and ‘Born into Brothels’ (2004), but on a grander scale, with an explicit message of hope and an unabashed resolution of requited love.

How satisfying! You’ll come out rejuvenated. The skeptic in you might say it’s only a movie, a fantasy too…  Mind you, not all fantasies end well. With some, the darkness can loom for days. Be good to yourself, start the year on a cheery note. Watch a ‘hopeful movie’. Love and Hope can sustain and triumph. As simple as that.

~ ~ ~½ Ripples


*****


Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

14 thoughts on “Slumdog Millionaire (2008)”

  1. “Hope” is my favourite theme, I think (that and redemption). So thanks for posting about this movie! I’ll have to check it out.

    Yes, those certainly are qualities that make a movie satisfying. I’m sure you’ll really like this one!

    Arti

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  2. Hi Arti,

    Thanks for your review of SM. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! One of my most memorable scenes was when Jamal jumped into the poop hole and jumped out running to get the movie star’s autograph

    Doesn’t that scene remind you of Rocky Balboa running to the top of the steps and raising his fists to the sky?
    It’s also one of my favorite moments in the movie. Thanks for your comment!

    Arti

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  3. Hi Arti, I watched this movie couple times, i loved it for various reason, made my heart ache looking at some of the conditions in my country, some tretrious people, warm ,looking at the sibling bond, friendship……….. Your last statement says it all. I enjoy reading your reviews thoroughly.

    It’s good that you mention the sibling bond, that’s a crucial element in the movie. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment!

    Arti

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  4. Hi, Arti ~

    Lookie who finally is getting out from under her rock to roam a bit!

    I’ve been waiting to see your review of this movie. There is a sportswriter in Houston (of all things) who has some experience with screenwriting and acting, and he has been raving about this movie.
    In fact, he’s been giving it the “if you only see one movie this year…” treatment. It looks like one that would be worthwhile, and best of all, it looks like one I could take my mom to see. I’m actually a bit intrigued by WALL-E, but I don’t think that’s mom’s style.

    I’m glad to have the holidays over and the weather a bit straightened out so I can get some work done. They’re forecasting truly cold weather (compliments of our Canadian friends!) in a week or so, and if it comes, my Jane Austen and my drinking chocolate are ready to go. I’m just waiting until I have some forced time at home to begin my new adventure!

    Wonderful posts all over your blog. I’ll leave another comment or two at other places.

    Linda

    Hey Linda, welcome back! Glad to hear from you at the start of a new year. Yes, this is one movie you shouldn’t miss, your mom too. I’m sure the two of you will find it fresh and exciting.

    As to the weather, nothing will be as bad as here. We’re getting minus 20’s C. almost the whole month. But with the brilliant sunshine during the day, I really don’t mind that much. I hope you do get some work done; but then again, if you can’t, a Jane Austen experience is just as good. A new remake of Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urberville is on PBS Masterpiece these two Sundays. After reading Hardy, I’ve come to appreciate Austen even more. Her exuberance spills out from her writing. Sure can warm up your winter months!

    Arti

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  5. Great review, I enjoyed reading it 🙂
    I love the movie. The acting was superb, especially the kid actors. It’s emotional, smart, intense and gripping. Plus, it truly shows how hope and love can overcome any obstacle. Great film. I’m rooting for it in the Oscars.

    Yes, all eyes are on it tonight at the Oscars. But I hope the fame and glamour would not overshadow the message behind the story. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.

    Arti

    Like

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