Producer: Christian Colson
Director: David Boyle
Music: A R Rahman
First of all, the dubbed version of the movie in Hindi is called “Slumdog Crorepati”. How very lame. And secondly, the English speaking population of India has already seen the movie on pirated discs, including Shobha De, because of all the hype created by the media (definitely the movie is great, which is one reason it being already consumed by the masses). What a loss, I must admit, the box office is going to face.
When one hears story of a movie wherein a ‘slum’-wala wins a high profile game show to become a millionaire overnight, one feels that it is yet another cliched Bollywood movie made in the 80’s. But when you actually watch this movie, you realize that it’s far more sophisticated. The movie is not about heroism, it is about role played by destiny in one’s life. It’s all about how a series of events occur; more importantly why they occur and thus define the meaning of life.
An intense interrogation scene opens the screen posing a question how Jamal Mallik (Dev Patel), a ‘chai-wala’ in a call centre, has successfully reached the final round of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ game show (a spoof of Kaun Banega Crorepati, with a well groomed Anil Kapoor hosting the show). The protagonist explains how he got all answers right but in two separate spaced flashback threads, one showing the game show and the other browsing through the incidents of his life from where he knew the answers.
The journey starts with life at slums in Mumbai and takes us briefly through all the aspects of it from dark ‘gullies’ (lanes), communal violence, fate of roadside orphan children, prostitution, lives of gangsters and call centres; a love story runs at the backdrop, finally leading to a predictable but exciting climax.
It’s mostly a biographical movie with some emotional confrontations between Jamal and his psychotic elder brother Saleem (Madhur Mittal). Jamal’s shocks of growing up alone unfold like dreams: the death of his mother (murdered during a riot), a comic shaking of hands with a Bollywood legend, and then a long litany of ghastly wounds inflicted on fellow urchins by smiling pimps and lethal Fagins. The director must be commended for doing a lot of homework in portraying the Mumbai slums and their way of living realistically. The love interest between Jamal and Lathika (Freida Pinto) is not properly conceived, but its not bad either.
In the technical department, maestro A R Rahman is in his all time best in re-recording and the exciting back ground score which elevates the mood of the movie drastically. The racy song at the end credits of the movie is already a chart-buster, though not pictured well. Cinematography and art direction are superb and should be applauded for the depiction of Mumbai slum. Crisp editing and engrossing screenplay are additional assets to the high production values.
Only few negative points are that the slum dwellers speaking flamboyant English in the latter half of the movie and showing the much hyped TV show as LIVE. Maybe under some Script limitations, we have to agree with it.
Lovable performance from the new comer Dev Patel, though not much of screen space in the first half of the movie. Frieda Pinto impresses as a dark beauty. But the small boy who played the younger Jamal impresses with his cute expressions. Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan are adequate to their roles, though not much scope is given.Rating: 3.5/5 Verdict: Slumdog Millionare makes an interesting view for the gruelling reality, implausible twists, and racy background score. Go grab your DVD right now.