Monday, December 29, 2008

Movie Review - Slumdog Millionaire

When life is portrayed realistically on celluloid and captured in its raw, unadulterated form, one gets a beautifully surreal movie like Slumdog Millionaire. I saw this movie when a friend at work - we share similar tastes in movies - could not stop raving about it! He is an American who has visited Bombay and has seen the poverty there. Another recommendation came when I was watching a show on the telly and the Razzie recommendations were being dished out (for the curious cats, Paris Hilton's The hottie and the nottie topped the list of that recco!). It was during that segment that the anchor mentioned that Slumdog Millionaire is a must see movie! It was settled then!

Note - the story will not be revealed in the review. Read to your heart's content!

Simply speaking, the movie captures the story of two slum-kids and how they make lemonade when life throws lemons at them. Only, the movie captures it brilliantly! I cannot help but compare the movie with a classic heart touching movie - Children of Heaven by Majid Majidi! (Yes, Slumdog is really that good) It is also made like a documentary - meaning, the realities of life are not sugar-coated to make it easy for the audience to swallow the movie. In fact, it is this unadulteration that makes the movie a must-see for anyone interested in knowing the real Bombay!

Having grown up in the city of Bombay and travelled across the country, I can vouch for the authenticity of the scenes shown in the movie. The plot of the movie itself was quite in-genuine and most of the movie is a flashback. A tea-seller from Bombay has his shot at becoming super-rich overnight when he is 1 question away from winning the Indian version of Millionaire. He is suspected of cheating as he has reached that point in the show by answering national and international questions with ease. He also plays with the show-host's ego when he steals the show from him with his dry-witty-straight-from-the-gut replies to verbal insults from the show's host (played by Anil Kapoor). The show ends for the day when Jamaal (played by Dev Patel), suspected of cheating is taken in by the police for questioning. The movie is a narration of his life story to the inspector (Irrfan Khan) and the hawaldaar (Saurabh Shukla).

The movie shows how Jamaal and his brother grow up being poor Muslim kids in the city of Bombay (I hate the name Mumbai). They are typical slum-kids who enjoy the simple pleasures of life and learn everything about life from the best teacher there is, life itself! The movie shows various phases in Jamaal's life - each phase being a new chapter in the story of Jamaal's life that are interlaced by the questions on the TV show. While all the chapters are written in flashback, the final chapter cuts to the present and the story unfolds to bring us to the climax of the movie. Each chapter unveils a new twist in the plot, teaches the character of the movie a new lesson in life and leaves the viewer glued to the seat, with ever-growing suspense. (If anyone told you that art-movies are boring, Slumdog Millionaire surely breaks that perception!)

Having given us movies like Trainspotting, The beach, 28 days later, Director Danny Boyle gives us yet another masterpiece - perhaps his best till date. The movie is also co-directed by Loveleen Tandon who has worked on contemporary art-movies like Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair, Earth and The Namesake. Loveleen has ensured that the movie retains its Indian authenticity in each scene.

After watching the movie, I was discussing it with my American friend and that led to many interesting observations about life. The movie reminds us of the adversity faced by Billions of people in developing countries like India and Africa - while the privileged few lead a sheltered life and take many things for granted. The conclusion of our discussion was that richness and poverty is a relative thing - you consider yourself rich or poor depending on where you hail from - not very profound, but worth mentioning none-the-less as the conclusion was achieved in 5 minutes while sitting in the confines of the office and without the aid of any 'truth-serums' (read alcohol)! :D

Slumdog Millionaire is a wonderful movie that shows the harsh realities of life while telling a lovely, romantic, wise tale os the struggles and triumphs of Jamal! The acting in the movie is top-notch as is the direction, screenplay, music, editing - the best part of the movie would be the screenplay and direction! I wanted to pick the story, but a bad screenplay and bad direction can easily ruin a good story.

Conclusion - In case you are still in any doubt, let me re-iterate! GO WATCH IT! You will love it for its realism. The movie has a rating of 8.7/10 on IMDB. I give it 10/10 as it portrays the true and real Bombay on the big screen in a surreal way! Love it, Love it, Love it!