Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionare

Slumdog Millionare

Director: Danny Boyle

Co-Director (Indian): Loveleen Tandan

Cast: Jamal Malik (Dev Patel)

Latika (Freida Pinto)

Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor)

The Police Inspector (Irrfan Khan)

Javed (Mahesh Manjrekar)

Music: A.R Rahman

I’ve been waiting for this big moment for a long, long time. And finally. I got to see Danny Boyle’s eagerly awaited drama Slumdog Millionaire. Was it worth the wait? You bet.

Based on Vikas Swarup’s novel Q & A, Slumdog Millionaire is actually a two-hour episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionare? or Kaun Banega Crorepati. Its how about Jamal Malik, a guy living in a Mumbai slum, manages to come up to ten million. Just a day before the twenty million question, Jamal Malik is arrested, and interrogated about the happenings of his life. That is Slumdog Millionaire.

Jamal Malik is on the verge of creating history. And how did he do it? He cheated? No. He was asked only those questions, of which he knew the answers. Sheer luck. Jamal explains nearly every answer, which unveils the struggle he had to face living in a Mumbai slum, and the price he had to pay for being a Muslim. Boyle has captured the slums beautifully; every detail is clear – from clothes drying near the railway track to rudimentary toilets (which are actually houses on stilts with a large hole in the centre to let the … excreta … fall down. Jamal escapes from a slum, and is taken along with his brother Salim and friend Latika to an orphanage, where they are forced to beg. They are taught to sing, then blinded, as blind singers get double the sympathy, double the money. Salim and Jamal escape from here too, and spend their lives selling goods in the trains, stealing food from compartments, etc. etc. All this seems horrible, but yet, this is the harsh reality of the slum life. You learn to realise the horrible existence of the needy.

Not a moment to bore you. Not a moment to take your eyes off screen when there are such fine actors. There’s drama, and comedy too. I especially love that scene where Jamal plays a guide and explains about the Taj Mahal to the tourists, describing it as a five star hotel “with the swimming pool”. He later becomes a good guide, whilst his brother steals shoes and ransacks Mercedes-Benzes.

In the entire story, you see the characters develop. Jamal grows up to be honest, but easily influenced. Salim, his brother, on the other hand, develops into a mean and merciless fellow, taking to the underworld and drinking at the age of 15, I guess. That is why the plot is so solid. You feel the characters growing as the film progresses. There are some unbelievable things, however. How the hell do Jamal, Salim, Latika and others speak English so fluently, even when they are uneducated and from a slum? How does Jamal give know the writer of the song Darshan Do Ghanshyaam even when Surdas was never mentioned during the entire sequence?

Although these questions remain unanswered, the sheer detail of the film keeps you engrossed. I’ve already that mentioned that above. Jamal learns to live his life, even when he is plagued with no parents and poverty. The main quest of he film is not to win twenty million bucks, nor is it to be rich or famous, but it is to find Latika, Jamal’s lost love.

There aren’t any songs (except in the end – that Jaya He one), but the background score is great, as it is a fusion of indigenous and foreign music. The screenplay rocks, too! Scenes from the past and the present flash continuously, which keep you glued to your seat, as you wait till the suspense to be unfolded.

Detailed Ratings [Out of 5]

Plot: 4

Acting: 5

Music: 5

Direction: 4

Screenplay: 5

Rating: 4.6/5 [Brilliant!]


The Oscars were given out today, and Slumdog Millionaire won eight out of ten nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Song [Jaya He, Rahman!], Best Original Music Score [Rahman again!], Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography and Best Adapted Screenplay. Hooray!

Also Smile Pinki, a movie with an India connect, won an Oscar for the best Documentary Short.

One comment

  1. Tapas · January 20, 2009

    No wonder A.R Rehman’s got a golden globe for this one.

    Cant wait for it to hit the screens.

    And yeah, do try to pick up a copy of Q&A. Ive read it, and its a classic.

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