Slumdog Millionaire

It was a Saturday afternoon from many months back. I was running the treadmill and channel surfing when I chanced on The Screening Room, a 30-minute CNN program dedicated to the movies.

On that episode they were featuring the hits and misses of the Toronto International Film Festival. One of the hit films featured was an Indian movie based on the novel “Q & A” by Indian author Vikas Swarup about a teenage boy in a popular game show and his quest for a lost love. The segment dedicated to the movie was only for a few minutes but I thought the movie was worth watching. The title was Slumdog Millionaire.

I was right. A few months after “discovering” the film on the treadmill, it is now gaining popularity (by word of mouth) and momentum to win Oscar’s biggest prize. I think American media dub it as the “little film that could” having been made for a measly $15 million dollars.

The film tells the story of Jamal Malik, an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who gets to play in “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”. It starts with the torture of Jamal in a police precinct. It was, in the minds of the interrogators, incredulous that a slumdog would know the right answers to the questions asked. Jamal then narrates the series of events, shown in flashbacks, why he knew the answers and the real reason why he is on television.

This is a terrific crowd-pleaser of a film from Danny Boyle, the director of Trainspotting, The Beach, and Millions. The editing, musical score, and cinematography are just superb. And Dev Patel, who plays the titular character, gives an affecting performance of the protagonist’s longing, earnestness and unadulterated love for a childhood friend.

After watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button I thought then that it was the film to beat in this year’s Oscars. I’m taking it back. That film had a disconnect that I could not quite put a hand on. Slumdog Millionaire does not. Watch this!
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