Slumdog Millionaire: A Mumbai Two Crore Opera

When you watch Danny Boyle’s latest rags-to-riches fairy tale “Slumdog Millionaire”, you’ll experience an emotional roller-coaster ride that only Mumbai can offer. The city that never sleeps, the city that is in the center of the center of the world (as mentioned by Salim in the movie), a city that has an economic and social contrast ratio of 20,000,000:1, reveals itself on the screen as Danny Boyle and his screen writer Simon Beaufoy (based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup) masterfully crafts the film using the television game show “Kaun Banega Crorepati?” or “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” as the spine of the story. Indian slum and street life has been explored by many international film makers like Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay) and Roland Joffe (City of Joy) amongst others, but Slumdog brings to life the dark as well as the bright side of the city of Mumbai in a style that is shocking and heart warming at the same time. The story of Jamal, an uneducated chai-wallah at a modern high tech call center, who question after question moves towards the highly coveted two crore rupees award money is indeed a fairy tale. It’s such an unbelievable incident that the show host (Anil Kapoor) gets him arrested to find out how this boy can cheat his way through to the correct answers. But, fortunately for Jamal, the answers to the questions comes from his life experiences and not from any books – the vivid memories of his life in the slums and streets of Mumbai, to his struggle for existence along with his brother Salim at the foot of the Tajmahal, and finally in his search for the love of his life – Latika! Ironically, the final two crore question comes from the book, “Three Musketeers” by Alexander Dumas, that he and his brother had only started to read during his limited encounter with school. He calls his “Life Line” – his brother and Latika, but they fail to answer either. Hence Jamal gives in to destiny – and once again gambles his life in front of the millions of television viewers.
The performances by all the lead characters were heartfelt and spontaneous, especially the performance of the children in the first half on the movie. The music by A. R. Rahman (who bagged a golden globe nomination) has helped heighten the emotions and the final song and dance scene during the credits was a treat.
The film, although extremely enjoyable, has sometimes gone overboard and simplified many of the complex issues. The film does contains some strong imagery, some quite disturbing, and some very heartwarming. Special kudos to the cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle for the gorgeous photography and the editor Chris Dickens for maintaining the breakneck pace of the film that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.
The film has already won quite a few awards and have already bagged four Golden Globe nominations. Many pundits and film buffs feel that Slumdog will be a strong contender for the Oscars next February. But the limited release of the film is really a major constraint for many viewers. Hopefully, we’ll see more theaters screening the film if the Oscar nominations give it a nod. But before that happens, I’d like to encourage you all to check out the listings and find a theater where you can enjoy this film as soon as possible.

4 thoughts on “Slumdog Millionaire: A Mumbai Two Crore Opera

  1. Slumdog wins 5 Critcs Choice Awards:

    Winners at Thursday’s 14th annual Critics’ Choice Awards:

    • Picture: “Slumdog Millionaire”
    • Director: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
    • Writer: Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire”
    . Young actor/actress: Dev Patel, “Slumdog Millionaire”
    • Composer: A.R. Rahman, “Slumdog Millionaire”

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