Film: Slumdog Millionaire
Banner: Celador Films
Director: Danny Boyle
Producer: Christian Colson, Tessa Ross, Paul Smith
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor, Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Mahesh Manjrekar, Saurabh Shukla and Ankur Vikal
Honestly, films like these are worth your money. Slumdog Millionaire is an imperfect portrayal of Mumbai because it is not complete, but in every sense is a perfect picture for what is seen is real.
The film has the popular show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire at the centre. A contestant on the show, Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is on his way to winning the prize money. He answers each question correctly but behind every answer there is a story.
A story which shocks, awes and reveals his life and love. Quizzing him on the show is Prem (Anil Kapoor), getting out the truth is the Inspector (Irrfan Khan), living in hope is Latika (Freida Pinto), regretting his act is Salim (Madhur Mittal) and slowly unfolding it all is Jamal (Salim). What finally transpires is an easy guess.
Slumdog Millionaire is one of those layered films, at the surface of which is this glorious love story. Look deeper and you see this social element in it almost as though trying to weave a different story altogether; a tale that is about Mumbai.
The film is also about the relationship between brothers and the meanness of life. There’s so much in this film, that watching it once just won’t do. The film reminds one of past films like City of God, Dharavi, Salaam Bombay and City of Men yet it is nothing like it. It has that earthy and human quality these films had, that quality of being exploratory yet ensuring that ultimately what you see is a movie.
More than anything else, the film works because it has these small exciting, emotional yet powerful moments that hit you. The actions seen are nothing you’d imagine not because it is novel but because sitting in an ivory tower you’d never think it was possible.
Scenes like the one where young Jamal dives into the pile of human feces, running to get an autograph from Amitabh Bachchan or the train sequences are nothing less than brilliant. Actually brilliant seems like an understatement!
Everything offered in the film is great. There is depth in the characters; the buildups are great, because you are eventually following the three main protagonists from their childhood till their youth.
What is praiseworthy is the fact that what is seen is not something that is contrived or half baked but as it is in reality, it is very detailed , kudos to Boyle and his team for that.
Even though the film has many flaws and loops, the director knew has ensured that justification was provided at parts where it was too obvious. Like the scene where Mamman (Ankur Vikal) recognizes the older Jamal something you’d think is implausible is backed by the dialogue "I never forget a face". Things like these make you realize that the film stems from a well written script and every detail has been looked into.
Technically too the film is excellent. The colors seem alive and textures make it seem real. Credit must be given to the editor too for giving the slickness needed in the film. Background score by Rahman is absolutely fantastic. The music backed by the actions on screen is superbly entertaining.
The only let down perhaps in the film was the extensive use of filter and DI work at times due to which the crispness needed at crucial moments is missing.
When it comes to performances everyone has done a great job. Patel is outstanding; Pinto is graceful with a screen presence that’s never seen before. Khan, Vikal, Manjrekar, Kapoor and Shukla are good. They do a good job in their rather small but crucial roles. The only character who did an ok job is Mittal. But most of all the child artists are absolutely phenomenal they take home the prize.
The film brings a smile to your face and a tear to your eye. It makes you acknowledge the little boy who taps your car window for money, it acknowledges the fact that evil lives in the same place as good, and it recognizes love, hate, power and destiny. In other words, Slumdog Millionaire is all about the beauty that is Mumbai and the stark contrast within this glorious city.
It’s one of those films you’ll regret not watching! You simply have to watch it.