some lessons from the slumdog millionaire
there are colors , beauty and action in the slums. yes, even from shitpools, winners and millionaires may arise. there is hope for those who keep on hoping, there is wisdom for those who remember life’s lessons well, there is fulfillment for some of those who love, and sometimes there is money for those who are really lucky. these were just some of the things that the q & a novel based movie, slumdog millionaire tells the audience.
on this seemingly magic-realism journey, director danny boyle (trainspotting, the beach) takes us deep into the slums of mumbai zooming in and out of the rooftops, panning along the sidewalks, tracing the horizons of the urban slum and running with jamal, salik and latika as they chase and outrun their fate.
jamal is presented as the who wants to be a millionaire contestant who answered all of the questions that leads him to the final question where he could win 20 million rupees (19,305,748.44 in php as of jan 15 2009) but is suspected of cheating by the gameshow host and the authorities because of his background as a semi-literate slumdog.
the film then leads us to a series of flashbacks from jamal and his brother malik’s past that will make us understand how jamal learned the answers to the questions. from the hindu-muslim conflicts in the slums, to the towering mountains of trash, down to lair of the children traffickers, to the abode of the crime lords of the society, we follow jamal’s quest to survive life, while searching for his lost childhood love, latika.
cinematography makes me want to go to india and take pictures everywhere. i love how the movie touches the themes of poverty, power relations and abuse in the society without sensationalizing them and capitalizing on the melodrama. anyway, this is a lighthearted feel-good movie that puts a subtle touch on the heavy aspects of life and the society.
it punches us about life, but it punches us in a very light manner that sometimes it tickles.
a.r. rahman’s musical score complemented the scenes well, providing and upbeat mix of contemporary and old indian music on the background.
it’s funny how the first half of the movie somehow reminded me of the kite runner and the darjeeling limited. it must be the sheer innocence of childhood friendship and the nostalgic atmosphere of india’s landscapes.
critics comment on the plausibility of some of the scenes like jamal’s beyond basic english accent as demonstrated on the taj mahal scenes (which happens to be one of my favorite scenes) and on the call center office where he temporarily takes the place of an agent friend after serving tea. i agree with them on some points, but who can predict what’s bound to happen or not in life right? why limit the imagination? the movie’s take on its scenes is not that far with reality anyway. and besides, this movie is bound to inspire and make the audience feel good.
what makes the movie a hit, aside from the multiple awards on its belt, is that it revolves around the story of an underdog who made his way to the top. but unlike any underdog story, slumdog millionaire is inspiring, exciting and heartwarming that can be applied to almost any setting in the world where there are slums and heavy proliferation of game shows. this is a story that tells us to pay attention to the little details of life. our experiences, the people we meet, all the pain, the happiness and the challenges that we face hold the answers to the possible questions that life may throw at us. you don’t have to be a genius or a degree holder to answer most of the questions in front of you. even chaiwallas who prepare tea for a call center company might know the answer to the multi-million prized question.
in the end, this movie tells the audience that if you come out looking for love and have missed it on the first time, don’t worry,
sometimes, it comes out and go look for you as well.
ps. don’t forget to watch the closing credits, bollywood style ftw!