Saturday, November 8, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire - a vibrantly wonderful film

Got to watch this incredibly brilliant film, Slumdog Millionaire, on thursday. I have to admit that I haven't watched Danny Boyle's Trainspotting or 28 weeks later, both of which are critically acclaimed and claimed to be classics. The only reason I got interested in this movie was AR Rahman. I was totally unaware of this project at the beginning, and then started this buzz that a film based on India got rave reviews in London film festival. Further digging into the subject revealed the fact that the music was composed by our own Rahman. What more can I say, this movie got added to my list of "everyday updates".

SdM is a movie based on a novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup, an Indian Diplomat. Set in India, it tells the story of Jamal, a "Chai wala" working in a call center, who becomes the biggest quiz-show winner in history, only to be sent to jail on accusations that he cheated. The movie goes on to tell us how by drawing from the experiences of his own short, yet turbulent and sometimes cruel life he, essentially a slumdog, managed to answer all the twelve questions that led him to the jackpot, and more importantly get his girl.

As this was a free screening, the line was pretty long and most of the audience were non-Indians. I think I just spotted one or two desis, which made me feel special, one of the very few Indians for a movie based entirely on India. There are many reviews giving pretty high ratings for this movie and believe me it truly deserves it. Every scene and detail has been handled very carefully. Even things like subtitles (as there are initial scenes of children completely in hindi) was done so playfully and colorfully. You won't find them at their usual place with white colored fonts, instead they go around the big screen in a way that you concentrate on the scene as well as the words. Master stroke !! Also I loved the way the music blended with the movie. It was a big opportunity for Rahman to showcase his talent and he has pulled it off brilliantly. The background score was amazing. There were times when I didn't know if it was Danny Boyle's direction or Rahman's music which made the scene either so romantic or so intense. I think it was a perfect marriage. There are two songs featured in the movie which give a breath of fresh air amidst moments of heartbreak, tragedy and drama, MIA Paper planes song which comes at an important juncture of the film and the grand Bollywood song-and-dance number which comes right at the end. Danny Boyle makes sure that everyone leaving the theater leave in their best spirits and with a wide smile of their faces.

Another highlight of this movie is its memory narrated structure. It keeps going back and forth from the game show to the jail to Jamal's past experiences, all of them culminating at a pulsating finale. Acting also needs a special mention, as everyone right from the young children did a fantastic job. For about an hour or so the two young kids carry the entire movie in their shoulders which was incredible. Their scenes actually were the most impressive for me and touching. And then there were veterans Irfan Khan and Anil Kapoor who did their part with great panache. Latika(Freida Pinto) was simply beautiful and Jamal(Dev Patel) was extremely believable and so relatable. I'm sure we'll see more of this young lad in the coming years.

Now for the most unforgettable scenes from the movie :~
1) One of the most unforgettable and unimaginable scene fro SdM was the gross-out comedy sequence of youngest Jamal caught in a predicament when the big bollywood star Amitabh lands in a helicopter at the slums and he's stuck in the toilet ( restroom ), the only way to get an autograph being to jump in the shitttttt...You've gotta see the expression on everybody's faces...extremely hilarious.
2) Hindu's attacking Muslims in the slums. This showcased the brilliant directorial abilities of Danny Boyle.
3) The nail-biting sequence where Jamal's brother gets Jamal to the orphanage goonda to showcase his singing abilities, and how he rescues him.
4) The MIA-paper planes song sequence.
5) The magnificent Tajmahal and younger Jamal's story of how and why Tajmahal was built.
6) The railway station chase sequence with superb music.
7) The tension filled climax.
8) Finally the end credits fun filled Bollywood dance number "Jai Ho".

SdM is a journey through that part of India which is seldom seen or heard these days. It boldly showcases that section of people who are at the most neglected both by the huge Indian media and the government. I'm sure no Indian film maker would have dared to touch such a subject thinking about money prospects and for that I thank Danny Boyle for presenting this movie in such a delightful fashion. I hope he gets the gold, if u know what I mean. The underlining motto of this movie is Destiny. Whatever happens, happens for a reason and it is written to happen that way. Something which I personally believe in. Do you believe in that ???

SdM opens in select theaters on November 12th. Let the journey begin.


sista said...

Am so going to see this one! Will compare notes after.

Wonderful writeup Sirish.

- S i R i S h - said...

Thanks Sista...actually I was in a fix whether to include my favorite scenes in the write up or not. I didn't want to make it a spoiler for people who might be watching it. But then my wife asked me yesterday why I didn't write about the youngest Jamal's hilarious scenes, which we enjoyed the most. So I included them and updated my review again :).

But yes do watch it, I'm sure you'll love it.