Dec 30, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire is the most vibrant, most alive film I have seen in a very long time. This wonderful movie teems with humanity, leaping off the screen with the utmost zest and vitality. A splendid celebration of cinema, a must see event. Danny Boyle's best work yet.

Slumdog Millionaire is based on the novel "Q & A" by Vikas Swarup. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy, Boyle made the film wholly in India and mostly in the chaos that is Mumbai. It follows the life of impoverished Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a 'slumdog' who grew up in the ghetto of Mumbai. We start the film as he has somehow worked his way onto the Hindi version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire". Jamal, despite his lack of education, manages to make a sustained run on the quiz show. This bemuses the host Prem (Anil Kapoor) at first. But bemusement turns to anger, as he wants to rid his show of the poor kid from the slums. In fact, Prem concludes that Jamal must be cheating and has him arrested. Thrown in jail, Jamal is interrogated and probed without mercy. Here is where the brilliant construction of the film develops. Each question and answer on the quiz show reveals a part of Jamal's life. His turbulent start in life with older brother Salim, his meeting the love of his life Latika, his growing up in an orphanage and the struggles he faced as a young teenager. There are scenes in this film, particularly in the first half, that leap off the screen. The colours and sounds of Mumbai are captured with great clarity. You feel every inch, every moment of joy, every moment of pain. It is a unique blend of reality and fantasy. Very real and also quite surreal. It embodies the fullness of life, the grit of the urban experience. The largely unknown cast, to western eyes anyway, is excellent. Especially the two actors who play Jamal and Salim as young boys. Their scenes will stay with you long after the film has ended. This film is melodramatic, vital, exuberant, totally engaging and also hilarious at times. Make an effort to see it.

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