Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jai Ho

If you haven't seen the little movie that could, Slumdog Millionaire, I suggest you run out and rent it right about ... five minutes ago.

Still not convinced?

This movie combines Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (the Indian version), love and brotherhood in one movie and gripes your heart tight while it pulls on the strings. Of course, it starts out with Jamal Malik (Dev Patel, British TV show Skins) being tortured for possibly cheating on the show. After all, how could a "slumdog" - a person who grew up in India's slums - possibly have gotten farther in Who Wants to be a Millionaire? than professors and scientists?

This is where the movie's magic enters. Jamal, who will be back on the show the next day to answer the final few questions, recounts parts of his life to explain why he knows some of the answers. The audience follows young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) and his brother Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail). We are shown what life is like in the slums for these two fun-loving trouble makers, who are best known as Athos and Porthos, from the Three Musketeers, a book they were reading in class. However, when their mother dies, the two find Latika (Rubiana Ali). Jamal calls her the third musketeer, even though he never knew the third one's name. The three live on their own for a while before Jamal and Salim are separated from Latika. Despite having left Latika, Jamal never stops thinking about her or hoping to find her.

The film gives us an amazing glimpse into what hardships Jamal and Salim survive and overcome. The entire country of India also becomes engrossed in the young slumdog who has a shot at winning the 20,000,000 rupees.

The casting is excellent because the actors and actresses all slightly resemble their younger and older counterparts. All of the characters have been cast three times for separate times in the characters' lives. The young actors and actresses were actually picked from the slums by director Danny Boyle (28 Days Later and Millions).

One character, who was probably overlooked as a result of Jamal and Latika's romance, is Salim, who is possibly the most layered of the three. As a typical older brother, Salim picks on and teases Jamal, sometimes cruelly. However, he is also a typical older brother in the way that he worries about, takes care over and looks out for Jamal. He makes difficult decisions to protect his younger brother, and while Jamal always worries about finding Latika again, all Salim wants is for it to be the two of them. His character is troubled, but when Jamal needs help, his older brother is usually there.

The host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and the police are curious as to how Jamal could possibly know the answers to such difficult questions, aren't you?

Slumdog Millionaire was released on DVD today, March 31. The movie's special features are typical: deleted scenes, making of the movie and commentary by director Danny Boyle and Dev Patel.

1 comment:

  1. Do you think Indian reviewers would award this movie the same raves as American reviewers and the Academy Awards? It really fits the "American dream" idea that we can surmount any odds, but does that idea work universally? Dr. Morse