Thursday, February 12, 2009

Slum Dog Millionaire-Review

Slum Dog Millionaire was released in India amidst its share of glories and controversies. After the golden globes bursts, it not only received Oscar nominations but also was criticised by someone who on any day can easily be a brand ambassador of Bollywood – Amitabh Bachchan. There was, therefore a lot of curiosity for this movie.

Danny Boyle’s Slum Dog Millionaire is a soul-stirring, fast, entertaining and a rags-to-riches story of a boy who can be easily written off as one from the slums but eventually goes on to become a millionaire on the “Who wants to be a millionaire” show hosted by Anil Kapoor. The movie is very enthralling and delves into the darker side of our own Mumbai. One may feel a bit odd watching the English version of the movie hearing the kids in the movie speaking a high accent English language.
The story begins with the main character of the movie Jamal Malik enjoying his life as a child in our own Dharavi along with his brother. They belong to a family who cannot even afford a smile on a daily basis. Everything goes well till his mother is killed in a danga. The two kids soon are all on themselves, have nowhere to go and fall in the hands of a beggar mafia. Soon the irrepressible and street smart Salim, the elder of the two brothers discovers that those people have actually planned to notch the eyes of his very own little brother. This particular scene in the movie is heartrendingly impactful when the eyes of a little one are notched with a spoon. The duo manages to run away leaving Jamal’s love interest Latika behind. Soon they reach another city and since they do not have anyone to take care, earn their living the way they know.
Destiny brings the brothers back to Mumbai and Jamal starts looking for Latika. The search takes them back to the same people – those who run the beggar mafia. The story takes a sudden turn when Jamal watches his elder brother committing a murder and taking away his girlfriend. He is then left all alone by himself. He works as a chai wallah in a call centre. He manages to track his brother and through him meets Latika once again, who is now a keep of a local don – Javed Bhai (Mahesh Manjrekar). The love birds are once again separated but Jamal doesn’t give up. He participates in a popular show of Kaun Banega Crorepati hosted by a mean host Anil Kapoor who tries to demoralise Jamaal every time. This he does to find Latika who is a fan of the show too. Jamal answers all the questions correctly by a matter of great coincidence because all the questions asked to him actually correspond to some or the other event from his life. Anil Kapoor suspects that a chai wallah cannot know all the answers and hands him to the police. But the circumstantially challenged underdog returns for a redemption not only for winning the prize money, but also his love interest.
There are no surprises in the movie and the plot is predictable but the speed with which the movie goes is very enthralling. The teen Jamal played by Dev Patel and Latika played by Frieda Pinto are eminently watchable. One of my favourite scenes is young Jamal jumping and emerging from a shit-pit with shit all over his body, only because he wants an autograph of his favourite movie star – Amitabh. It’s easy to lapse into a gush watching the scene.
A R Rehman too deserves a lot of credit for his musical touch and a superb song Jai Ho shot at a railway station. The movie no doubt has been directed by a British director but has an Indian heart to which every movie goer can relate to. The Oscar nominations are only add icing to the cake. Amidst criticisms, nevertheless, go grab some fun.

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