…victory

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) Dir. Danny Boyle
Minor spoilers.

Slumdog

I didn’t realize that a story about children from the Mumbai slums could be such a gripping story.

“Slumdog” gives us a chance to follow a life of Jamal and his older brother Salim. Their story, with all the ups and downs, is presented alongside Jamal participating in Who want to be a Millionaire. What’s more, it’s intertwined with the brutal interrogation on Jamal about his unbelievable winning streak during the show. Before Jamal answers every question, we are interrupted with a scene at the police station, where he explains how he knew the correct answer. In this amazing pattern this absorbing story is revealed.

Q: What is the most important issue in the movie?

A: Love. A boy falls in love with a girl. In this way, we could summarize the love story of Jamal and Latika. It is a simple story, but very powerful at the same time. They meet as kids, share problems and joys until they are separated. Jamal proves an amazing persistence, determination, and above all unconditional feeling. Latika comes and goes, and seems harder to catch than the White Rabbit from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” It’s a lost cause. Yet, Jamal’s honesty and unflinching feeling free of judgmental prejudices is rewarded – he gets the girl.

B: Money. And we’re not talking about some money here. It’s big money. Money appears to be the very force that pushes the action forward. From the greedy orphanage owner Maman (Ankur Vikal) to the corrupt businessman Javed (Mahesh Manjrekar) to the most well-known show in the world Who Want to Be a Millionaire. Jamal faces all. Unlike his brother, who is killed in a bathtub full of rupee, Jamal cares only for his lost love. I believe his honesty and pure heart are the reason he survives in the cruel world he lives in. What’s the most striking, he doesn’t even know the answers to the Millionaire questions, and those he does he wishes he didn’t. Every question gives him a chance to win more money. Yet, every question is connected with a traumatic experience from his life.

C: Poverty. It’s almost unbelievable that there are place where children live like animals. What’s worse, the poorest spots are located next to skyscrapers full of filthy rich businessmen. It’s great that Danny Boyle decided to draw our attention to the poverty of India. On the other hand, Boyle manages to avoid a melodramatic atmosphere. There’s no preaching about what’s right and wrong. In my opinion, the conclusions are too obvious to suggest anything. The most shocking sequence is the orphanage, where kids are crippled and turned into beggars. No words to comment that.

D: Brotherhood. Jamal and Salim – two brothers who cannot be more different. Jamal is focused on his love for Latika. He doesn’t feel the pressure to get money. He only wants to live day by day. In contrast, Salim pursues money. He’s cunning, and bosses Jamal around. Unfortunately, he takes away everything what Jamal cherishes. As a kid, he separates Latika and Jamal. Then, as a teenager, he steals a night with the girl. Later on, he helps keep Latika away from Jamal. Not to mention all those small incidents, for example, when he sells Amitabh Bachchan’s autograph that belongs to Jamal. Unfortunately, these occurrences break the brothers apart. They walk different paths: Jamal’s leads to love and money, whereas Salim’s to his doom. Significantly, he dies in a bathtub full of cash, which symbolizes that the pursuit for money is the wrong path.

Finally, I need to add a spoonful of tar to spoil this barrel of honey. This story is totally unbelievable and implausible. Similarly to thousands of children in India, Jamal has a very tough life, living in poverty and unimaginable conditions; however, Jamal emerges barely scratched from this story. After 2 hours of suffering, he wins money and the girl he loves. This is a beautiful story, but it is a rags-to-riches story that happens only in the movies.

Additionally, I think this movie is great to watch, but only once. The story, with the intense ending, impresses as long as you don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’ want to take it from Boyle – it’s a beautiful movie, but I don’t suppose I’m going to watch it many times (as I usually do with my favorite productions).

Anyway, I’m very happy I watched the movie at last. After all, it’s incredible – the story, the cinematography, the music, and the actors. It is a kind of bildungsroman – we observe the main character from the time when he’s a little kid to his (let’s say) adulthood. Needles to say, the actors are incredible, as well. Kids are lively, joyful, and movingly honest in their performances: Jamal – Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Tanay Chheda, Dev Patel; Salim – Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, Madhur Mittal, Latika – Rubina Ali, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, Freida Pinto. All in all, it is another movie feast. This time, Danny Boyle cooked a delicious Hollywood dish with Indian spices.

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

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2 thoughts on “…victory

  1. Queen of the Grubs says:

    Tak, widziałam w tv te slumsy. Jednak mówili, że Boyle utworzył dla tych dzieci fundusz, ale dostęp do pieniędzy będą miałay dopiero, jak będą pełnoletnie. Inaczej dorośli zabiorą im te pieniądze. Ta cała sytuacja jest wręcz groteskowa – rags to riches to rags. Nie chciałabym być osobą odpowiedzialną za podejmowanie decyzji w tej sprawie. Byłaby to zbyt duża odpowiedzialność, a żadna decyzja nie byłąby idealnym rozwiązaniem.

  2. Niby reżyser pokazał biedę Indii, ale pozostaje pytanie, co zrobił dla młodych aktorów grających w nim? Nie jestem pewna na 100%, ale gdzieś obiło mi się o uszy, że wrócili oni z powrotem do życia w slumsach. Taki mały zgrzyt.

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