(Slumdog Millionaire was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)
Jamal Malik (Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika (Pinto), the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show’s questions. Each chapter of Jamal’s increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show’s seemingly impossible questions. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really doing on the game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out. At the heart of its exuberant storytelling lies the intriguing question of how anyone comes to know the things they know about life and love.
Slumdog Millionaire is a movie that deserves the hype and the awards it has won. It’s heart-breaking to see the way people in other parts of the world are forced to live – and that fact is made even more poignant when you realize that the children in the movie were actually living in the slums and dumps where the movie was filmed.
The cast was extraordinarily talented, from the stars Dev Patel and Freida Pinto, down to the children playing their younger versions. It was courageous of director Danny Boyle to film the movie with actors no one will recognize, and his choice to do so makes the film seem even more real – there are no familiar faces pulling you out of the experience.
The over-all message of the film is one of hope and courage. Jamal’s determination to find Latika and to rise above his surroundings is truly inspirational.
I do have one complaint – and it’s not just about this film in particular, but all films that include subtitles. Not everyone has giant-screen TVs, and when the subtitles are small or poorly-colored, it can make the viewing experience frustrating. There were many times when I had to pause the DVD so that my husband and I could figure out what the subtitles were saying.
Slumdog Millionaire will be available on DVD on March 31st. The DVD special features include deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and more.