Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Mood: Inspired

My movie reviews dropped off at the end of last year, mainly due to my sheer laziness. Then there was that whole "got made redundant" thing, and then there was that whole "had to have some hip surgery" thing.

My last review was for WALL•E, which we saw way back in October last year. In that review, I noted that we saw Journey to the Centre of the Earth in 3D after WALL•E. I remembered that movie being fun – I love Brendan Fraser and seeing the movie in 3D was fun, although the extra costs they slugged us for the 3D experience was something I’m unlikely to want to revisit again any time soon.

I can’t remember if we saw another movie between Journey and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. And again not sure whether we saw something between Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Bedtime Stories. In any case, both were good and both were seen with J and M.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa had a lot of catchy tunes and was fun enough to keep everyone entertained. Bedtime Stories was a nice little flick as well – I enjoyed Adam Sandler playing an almost straight character. But at 99 minutes, it was a little bit long for an almost 4 year old, who in the final 10 minutes of the movie very loudly asked Daddy "Can we go now? I don’t think I can sit here any more."

Somewhere in the haze, I recall seeing the new James Bond flick Quantum of Solace. I loved that movie – it was Bond at his brooding best. Loved the action. Loved the cinematography. Thought Daniel Craig was fab.

J and I resumed our Tuesday Movies routine this week with Slumdog Millionaire. Below is the synopsis written by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show’s questions. Each chapter of Jamal’s increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show’s seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really doing on the game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out. At the heart of its storytelling lies the question of how anyone comes to know the things they know about life and love.

This has to be one of the best movies I have ever seen. I will openly admit that I cried in this movie. Not just the polite sniffle as tears gentle cascade down my face – the all encompassing, body shaking, ragged breathing, loudly wailing kind of crying. From about half way through the movie. Yes, it was a joy to be seated next to me that night.

One of the truly amazing things about this movie is the steeliness of Jamal’s character and resolve. Life did not exactly deal him a fair hand, and every time he was kicked and stomped to the ground, he would pick himself up and dust himself off and try to make the most (if not a better situation) out of it. It was with a sense of triumph that I watched Jamal face adversity upon adversity, and still remain a fairly grounded, mostly sane young man who never lost sight of his ultimate prize.

I loved the relationship between Jamal and Salim. Although Salim did not always make the best choices, he always had Jamal’s best interest at heart. Salim was a constant guide and leader and protector for Jamal throughout their youth, and even after a period of estrangement, Salim returned to his role as protector by way of apology.

The power of first love was beautifully illustrated by Jamal and Latika. Jamal’s devotion to Latika knew no bounds, and his relentless efforts to be with his one true love deserved gold medals.

Jamal was played by three very talented individuals – Dev Patel as the adult Jamal, Tanay Hemant Chheda as the adolescent Jamal and Ayush Mahesh Khedekar as the child Jamal. All were completely utterly brilliant.

Salim was also portrayed by three talented actors – Madhur Mittal as the adult Salim, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala as the adolescent Salim and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail as the child Salim. The camaraderie and the closeness that existed between the pairs of actors throughout the three stages of the brothers’ lives was easy and totally believable.

Latika was very much a supporting character, but a pivotal character nevertheless. The three actresses who gave Latika life were Freida Pinto (the adult Latika was luminously beautiful on screen), Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar and Rubiana Ali as adolescent and child Latika respectively.

Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan played key roles in the film as the host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and the Police Inspector interrogating Jamal throughout the film respectively.

Rating:

This year, I’m going to play the Bacon numbers game only. Most of the cast has a Bacon number of 2, as Kevin Bacon was in New York, I Love You with Irrfan Khan. Nevertheless, the Bacon numbers for the main cast members are below.

Dev Patel has a Bacon number of 2.
* Dev Patel was in Slumdog Millionaire (2008) with Irrfan Khan.
* Irrfan Khan was in New York, I Love You (2008) with Kevin Bacon.

Madhur Mittal has a Bacon number of 2.
* Madhur Mittal was in Slumdog Millionaire (2008) with Irrfan Khan.
* Irrfan Khan was in New York, I Love You (2008) with Kevin Bacon.

Freida Pinto has a Bacon number of 2.
* Freida Pinto was in Slumdog Millionaire (2008) with Irrfan Khan.
* Irrfan Khan was in New York, I Love You (2008) with Kevin Bacon.

Irrfan Khan has a Bacon number of 1.
* Irrfan Khan was in New York, I Love You (2008) with Kevin Bacon.

Anil Kapoor (I) has a Bacon number of 2.
* Anil Kapoor (I) was in Slumdog Millionaire (2008) with Irrfan Khan.
* Irrfan Khan was in New York, I Love You (2008) with Kevin Bacon.

We are due to see Choke next Tuesday at the Moonlight Cinema. I will definitely try to put up a review as soon as I’ve formed an opinion.

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