Friday, December 12, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

So I finally watched Slumdog Millionaire. There is so much to say about this movie, and I am gonna try my best to not give anything away. I have never seen a movie like this, and I can't recommend it enough.

In one word, Slumdog Millionaire is inspiring.
I don't even know where to begin.

Okay first something about Simon Beaufoy's screenplay, which is based on Vikas Swarup's novel Q & A. The screenplay is not a close adaptation, but the story unfolds in the same manner as the book. I think the reason Beaufoy only followed the premise of the book, because even though the book is about "Jamal" (in the book the protagonist has a different name), the novel seems like a compilation of several vaguely similar short stories. I personally can't compare the screenplay with the novel. They are equally amazing, and go beautifully together. I can't believe Simon Beaufoy, who had never been to India prior to writing this most awe-inspiring script, was able to capture the lives and struggles of these slum kids with such blatant honesty.

Okay now about the direction. Danny Boyle is brilliant and extremely observant. He captures every little detail about Mumbai. I have never been to Mumbai, but I have been to Karachi enough times to know how these developing metropolises work. The rich are extremely rich, and the poor are poor beyond our imagination. Young children are bathing in murky water, and their mothers are doing laundry in the same water. I have actually seen that happening in Karachi. Again, you MUST go watch this movie to really appreciate the dedication that went into making this movie. I really hope Danny Boyle gets an Oscar for bringing this amazing story to our ignorant Western lives.

The acting is brilliant. The story follows Jamal's life from his childhood to adulthood. The child actors in the movie are actual slum kids. This part made the movie watching experience more painful, and the story more authentic. I have to admit, I was cringing and covering my eyes, grabbing onto my jacket to keep myself from bawling my eyes out in public. Everyone in the movie is brilliant, and does complete justice to their respective roles.

The background score is produced by A.R. Rahman, who is a brilliant musician. When asked about Rahman, Danny Boyle said, he doesn't know how to explain Rahman's musical brilliance to the Western audience, who are not fully familiar with his music. I am not a big Hindi music person, but I have always been an admirer of A. R. Rahman's songs, especially Chaiyya Chaiyya, and Ae Ajnabi. Sorry, going back to Slumdog Millionaire's soundtrack. Again, the music is so amazing that I am listening to it right now as we speak. Each character has their own distinctive theme. Again, another thing I would urge you to spend your money on: buy the Soundtrack :). My favourite song (there are so many to choose from) is the one called Dreams on Fire by A. R. Rahman and featuring Suzzanne. But again every single song on the record is worth your penny.

Before going to the movie, I was wondering why don't the good folks in India (Bollywood) make movies about the slums in Mumbai. Instead of showing the poverty in India, Hindi movies show rich Indians living in extravagant houses. But after watching the movie I found my answer. The reason we have the heart to watch movies about slums in India, and extreme poverty is because these atrocities are not part of OUR reality. We spend 12 bucks on a ticket, watch the movie, get moved by it, and return to our heated homes. But, a person in India who sees the slums, or is from the slums would not like to spend his or hers hard day's earning, just so he or she can be reminded of their ubiquitous brutal reality. They need a break. They need to escape from that reality and for a few hours want to be dazzled with the Indian singing and dancing, so they can witness and experience something other than watching kids fight for the last piece of bread, or just basic shelter. The other thing that is shown in the movie is how Indians literally worship the Bollywood stars. To them these are the screen gods who allow them to dream, who provide them with temporary happiness, and an escape from their lives.

Again, I can't recommend this movie or the book or the soundtrack enough. Please do go watch it. Films like this don't come around too often.

p.s. I hope they fly out the child actors to LA for the Oscars, because they need to be a part of the celebration and critical accolade.


Kia said...

Oh man, I was invited to a preview and a Q&A with Danny Boyle last Monday but it clashed with Eid. Now I feel really gutted.

Maria Sondule said...

You can always tell when something's a good movie by how much you want to rant about it afterward.
Without even seeing this movie, I was moved. And as you so rightly put it, soon I shall forget about the horrors and go eat a hot lunch. What can we do to help these people?

changetheworld360 said...

I'm so jealous right now! =D This probably won't come to a theatre near me for another two weeks at the earliest. The critical acclaim and awards have been getting me more and more excited to see it as time goes by.

Zany said...

Kia, I can't belive you chose Eid over meeting Danny Boyle!!!

Maria, I know Mother Teresa's missionary in Kolkata, India does a lot for these slum and homeless kids. My friend volunteered there, and Mother's charity provides them food and education for free.

changetheworld360, Make sure you read the book 'Q & A' before you go watch the movie. I think you would love it.
In Toronto, they only have it playing in three theatres.

Kia said...

> Zany
Trust me, I would have gone the other way had I not been one half of a newly married couple with endless family obligations. I'm pretty sure I would have been lynched if I decided to just skip off to the screening... :(

Zany said...


You have provided me with a good reason to stay single, at least for now :). Next time, an annoying auntie asks me about my single status, I would be sure to tell her that I don't want to miss my chance to meet Danny Boyle (not that I ever get invited to these things) :).