I am in a review mood these days, probably because work has not resumed at full speed yet – even though today was a regular working day and I spent the whole day in the office. Last night I walked by one of the DVD shops on Hongmei Lu and noticed that they had Slumdog Millionaire. I read quite a lot about it on Twitter already, so I decided to buy it and watch it right away. It was an excellent choice!
Just like most novels I read, I tend to forget about the movies I watch the next day already. Only a few really good ones stay with me for a long time (Ray for example, or The Thomas Crown Affair are films that come to mind right away). Slumdog Millionaire might be added to that list as well.
If you have not heard about the movie, for example if you live in Europe where the movie has not yet been released in most countries (in Holland for example the first screening will be on February 12 and in Germany only on March 19), I am sure you will hear about it soon. This might be Oscar material, and the movie has already been nominated for 4 Golden Globes.
Slumdog Millionaire, based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup, paints a lively but painful picture of survival in Mumbai, a city full of danger and violence. It gives a fascinating look into life in the underbelly of India, which is not a pretty sight. Jamal, an young orphan from the slums of Mumbai, his brother Salim and another girl from the slums (Latika) try to make a life for themselves after their mother is killed during an anti-muslim riot. Years later the uneducated Jamal ends up in the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? where he manages to answer all the questions correctly, leading to an interrogation by the police because they think he may be cheating. During the interrogation you learn why Jamal could answer all the questions and what happened during his journey from the slums to the hot seat at the popular quiz show.
I won’t give more of the plot away, but it’s a combination of a fast-paced action movie and a romantic film, with a Indian Bollywood twist. A bit of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist meets 21st century India. I loved it, not only because I visited Mumbai myself and some places are very recognizable, but for the most part because it’s a “from rags to riches” (or better “from rags to rajah”) feel-good story. And others love it as well, on Rotten Tomatoes the film currently has a 94% rating and IMDB shows an 8.7/10 rating (#46 out of all movies).
As a side note, the movie’s soundtrack is great as well. I just downloaded it and am listening to it while writing this blog post. Enjoy!