Jamal Malik, a young boy who has lived a hard life, born and raised in the slums of Mumbai, has somehow managed to make it to the last round of India’s popular, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” TV quiz show. However, not all believe that he has made it this far without somehow cheating, and even less that he will actually win the final jackpot.
But just why is Jamal here in the first place, what circumstances have led him to this point and what is the actual jackpot that he is searching for? Perhaps here in the police interrogation room we may just find the answers to these questions (and more) after all…
So by now, everyone knows of Slumdog Millionaire’s huge success at the Oscars, and Danny Boyle’s slice of life, tragedy-tinged romantic drama truly is one of the better movies to come out of Britain in 2008, though if truth be told, I myself aren’t necessarily convinced that it should have picked up the Best Movie award after all. However, in this time of general negativity around the world, such a powerful, remarkably different, moving and feel-good movie certainly stands apart and this may very well have been the motivating factor in rewarding it as the decision makers did. I guess we’ll never know for sure though…
Anyway, the story for Slumdog Millionaire is told in tense flashback sequences, each part delivered as we explore the answers and questions that Jamal deals with in terms of each advancing round in the game show. We move through his quite frankly horrible childhood and adolescence and then onto his young adulthood, with each and every segment weaving a beautiful amount of detail into what makes and drives Jamal forward today. Despite all the hardships, adventure and tragedy that the movie explores and depicts, at the top of it all is the overwhelming love story between Jamal and Latika and this constant focus and backbone of the story is essential in crafting the final feel and tone of the movie as a whole, a film that will no doubt have you fighting back the tears of joy as the final few scenes play out and the credits at last begin to role.
The relatively unknown Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto put in superb performances as the adult Jamal and Latika respectively, but they are supported equally as well by a host of superb performances put in by the film’s largely small time and unknown cast members, each who simply seems to want to act their hearts out. The young children actors in particular need to be singled out for the wonderful performances that they all put in, despite their almost non existent training in the adult world of acting.
This film is made in India, it smells of India and it feels like India and this is perhaps one of its biggest draw cards because it presents to the West (that’s you and me) a wonderful world that we seldom take much interest in (unless of course you are already a Bollywood fan), taking us as an audience outside of our normal boundaries and then showing us life through the eyes of some of the poorest of the poor.
In essence, this is one of the best tragedy-tinged, feel-good love stories that you will ever come across in modern cinematic history and is most certainly a masterpiece of our time, a film which you really should make an effort to see if you haven’t already done so.
Related link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1010048/