January 13, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - A review

Spoiler Alert: Duh, of course there are spoilers.

The movie released only yesterday here and that too it was 'Avant Premiére', meaning that it would release in the WHOLE of Paris on ONE screen. And with the Golden Globes giving it all 4 awards that it was nominated for (Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Original Soundtrack), the expectations were sky high. And the French folk turned out in high numbers to catch the movie, even if with subtitles. So, expectedly without reserving ahead, we were left ticket-less (5 of us sincere movie buffs). We are holders of the UGC Illimite, which is a card that at a given rate entitles you to watch infinite movies in a month in all the finest cinemas. The only catch is that you can only book tickets one hour ahead of the show you want to attend. And that's not even a 'catch'. Most movies are ee-ootifying (pretty vacant). But Slumdog, at 6:30pm, for an 8:00pm show was sold out. Our movie maniac friend, SA told us that they would 'release' the unclaimed reserved tickets out at 7:50pm. So judiciously we sent ahead another friend to hold 5 seats in case we got tickets. To make a long story short, with a stroke of unexpected luck, we all landed tickets and seats right next to each other in prime location.

Until a day ago, I had no idea that the movie was based in India, nor that it was based on KBC.. nor that they spoke a whole lot of Hindi in it. I checked out IMDB for a review and read the blurb there and was amazed at the original story. In one line, it's just this: The story of a poor slum guy who enters KBC and wins 10 million without effort and is suspected to cheating to get to that standpoint. Why he enters it, how he knows the answer to all those questions forms the core of the plot. What it's not is a 'rags to riches ' story. At it's core, the movie is a love story. It is about how Jamal Malik, a slumdog believes that he is meant to be with Latika, another slumdog, the girl of his dreams and how he yearns for her even after losing her time and again and how he believes that destiny wants him to get together with her. Seldom has such an authentic Indian movie been made, especially by a Western director. The movie is based in the slum suburb of modern Mumbai, Dharavi and every aspect has been shown as is... the crazed fanatism for Bollywood, the life at the slum, the gore inflicted by the money launderers who send out children for begging, parts of the gangster world and what not. What gets you is the way that the story has been narrated. The cinematographer and the director truly deserve a standing ovation. And our Rahman... oh Rahman.. what music! Normally in English movies, the music takes a back seat. Apparently Danny Boyle promised to give Rahman's music free reign only if he would please compose the music for the movie. And he kept his word. It's all Indian... right down to the song n dance sequence at the railway station in the end. There's not a single 'foreign' face. It's all India.. except that it's in English a bit and many of the kids in the movie are actually from slums. I loved the first 3 kids who played Jamal, Salim and Latika.. they were adorable.

Some scenes were gross, some disturbing and they were entirely meant to be. the gravity of the situation and the point of view could not be conveyed otherwise. And everything depicted there is 100% true and not the least bit exaggerated. The movie's gripping and the plot works only because it's based in India... it would'nt have stood a chance elsewhere. What was amazing was that the entire theatre was glued to their seats even after it was obvious that the movie was long over when the Bollywood song took over. It was that good and I am not exaggerating. This time the Oscar buzz rings true. And then there was applause when everything was over and the credits had almost finished running.

Jai Ho! - You gotta watch the movie to know what I am talking about.


karmanna said...

thank u for the review ... i must watch this movie as soon as possible ...

பொங்கல் வாழ்த்துக்கள் :)

sivakumar said...

A nice Boyle-lywood movie. ;o)


Jaya said...

Karmanna-> Thank you. Iniya Pongal Nalvazhtukkal to you too! And yes, it's a must watch!

Siva -> Over.. over... OVER

Aravind said...

Ok, i am being a bit of spoilsport here, but i think the hype about this movie is a bit far too stretched by the media. I liked the movie, but i felt it had a bit too much of masala in it, well, again maybe its just me!
(I had written a looong comment here, then i thought i might as well make it as my blog entry ;)

Jaya said...

Aravind -> Will read it when written :)

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