- Released Internationally on 12/11/08
- Released in Malta by KRS on 28/02/09
Slumdog is the most celebrated film of the year. Why?
A. It is one of the few feel-good movies of the year
In an eventful year, in which a new era of leadership and optimism was ushered into the United States, but also in which a global recession started to spread from the world’s largest economies to the dinner tables of families everywhere, it would seem understandable that viewers would opt for lighter fare when selecting their film for a night out. And in usual fashion, the winter months have been populated with moving, brilliant, but often heavy and demanding dramas, which have failed to light up the box-office like the thrill-rides released last summer. Which is why Slumdog Millionaire stands out. Refreshingly original, it chronicles the participation of Jamal, a low-class teenager from the slums of Mumbai, as he amazes audiences en route to the final questions of the quiz show ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’.
B. It is a rags-to-riches tale of love and success
As he battles through question after question, we follow him on his incredible journey from his days as a trouble-making street-kid running from the police, through his teenage years with his brother after the murder of their mother, through to his current hot-seat. The plight of the children in the slums, and their eventual exploitation by organised crime posing as orphanages, is far from ‘feel-good’, and makes for impressive viewing. But Jamal and his brother survive the toughest of situations, and manage to carve out a living on their own. Joining them on their childhood journey is fellow orphan Latika, whom Jamal likes from an early age, but who gets left behind and ends up in unpleasant company. Never forgetting her, Jamal remains determined to find his one true love, and eventually takes part in the quiz show because he knows she’ll be watching. The love story isn’t flawless, but the script manages to avoid it seeming like Jamal simply needs the money to attract her.
C. It is a technically brilliant high-speed ride through India
Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) has been the target of most of the praise and awards heaped on this film, and it’s easy to see why. For most of its running time, the film intertwines three plot lines – the actual quiz show, the flashbacks to Jamal’s childhood, and the police interrogation of Jamal to see if he is cheating. Still, the film runs slickly, without ever getting confusing, and manages to pack in pathos, humour and excitement in equal measure. After the tense prologue, the wonderful title sequence is a vivid introduction to the slums of Mumbai, India’s so-called ‘maximum city’, as the children are chased off an airfield by the police. Like most memorable sequences in the film, it all rushes past to the sound of A.R. Rahman’s pulsating songs. The prolific composer, one of the hottest in Bollywood, provides big beats as well as soothing score throughout the film, and makes it sound just as great as it looks. The Indian children who portray the trio as children and teenagers are similarly impressive, as are Dev Patel and the luminous Freida Pinto as the adult Jamal and Latika.
D. It is written
Ultimately, it’s hard to single out one or two reasons for Slumdog’s success. It’s just one of those films where everything falls into place, and you realise you’re watching something fresh, exciting and unique. The scenes in Mumbai won’t have you booking flights anytime soon, but out of the filth and abuse comes a heart-warming love story, and a hero worth rooting for.