Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Jamal Malik is one question away from winning 20 million rupees.
How did he do it?

A: He cheated
B: He's lucky
C: He's a genius
D: It is written

From brilliant screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and genius British filmmaker Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Sunshine) comes Slumdog Millionaire, the story of an 18 year-old Mumbai orphan who is in the hot seat having already won 10 million rupees on the local version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'. Suspected of cheating on the show, Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is tortured and interrogated by police. Forced into explaining how he answered all the questions, he tells the police that the experiences he had while living his life in the slums of Mumbai were a clue to the questions.

The one thing that truly makes this whole film is how its told in a non-linear form, switching between the depressing and difficult times during Jamal's time in the slums and his curious and uncertain experience on the game show. It was amazing to see how the storyline flashed back whenever the next question was asked, incorporating his past experiences with the question being asked. The clues were discrete yet it stood out and gave a sense of understanding and made me feel that every chapter of his life was being told for a reason. The film is so brilliantly structured it leaves a very deep imprint. Where a typical movie starts off high, dips low then comes up again for the climax, 'Slumdog' starts off amazingly dismal and gloomy then climbs up to a brief period of comic relief and glee before dipping again and finally ending. On a high or low note, you find that out for yourself. not going to spoil it.

Shot on site in India, 'Slumdog' so beautifully illustrates the dirty, compact, upsetting slums of old Bombay as well as the developing, 21st century Mumbai. The slums were depicted so strongly I don't think the film did any favors to Mumbai in the way of tourism. But I think this film puts India in a bad light, highlighting the negative stereotype that is poverty in India. Nevertheless, the cinematography and lighting was simply breathtaking. Half of the film was shot with a handheld which was very obvious in the opening sequences of the movie where the guards are chasing the kids through the slums. The film should win an Oscar for Best Cinematography purely for shooting half of it with a handheld and not screwing it up, let alone making it work beautifully.

Believe you me, you want to be Dev Patel right now. Before this, he was a relatively unknown actor on the British TV show 'Skins'. To sum up his entire performance, he was very passive and laidback, looking extremely comfortable on the big screen like he's been doing this for awhile. Sometimes a performance like this can potentially mess the film up but Patel pulled off the 'less is more' swagger pretty well. Although the lead actor in the film I felt more of an impact from little Jamal (Azharuddin Ismail). While watching him and Salim begging for money running from gangsters, I was thinking where in the world did they find these kids. Their acting was flawless. Even more important, the acting from the kids felt genuine and innocent. They were so cute and at times funny. After reading a little bit, I learned that the kids were from the real slums of Mumbai and were terribly underpaid. They still reside in the slums today. Terrible ain't it? Well Danny Boyle said they were paid three times the salary of the average adult living in their neighborhood. Well thats not saying much considering their neighborhood is a collection of makeshift shacks. Veering off topic here. Enough of that.

Already won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, the soundtrack for 'Slumdog' is so so so good. Very good. So good I'm listening to it right now. My personal favorite is 'O...Saya' which plays in the sequence where the guards chase the kids through the slums. Composed by A. R. Rahman with contributions from M.I.A., the soundtrack boosts the film and brings out the culture and color of India that much more. Soundtrack- Ah-mazing!

This film proves that a simple story and simple concept can be a great success just as long as its shot in a unique way with a great crew and cast. By far, Slumdog Millionaire is my new favorite film of 2008. Also my pick for best movie of the year. It wholly deserves all its wins so far especially at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. I'm very sure it will sweep the Oscars as well.

I urge everyone to watch this if you have not. If you have, please do drop me a comment.

D: It is written

Doctor's prognosis: 9 out of 10 popcorns!

*Check out my preview post with more details and trailer here.

3 comment/s:

David said...

Is a good movie, even the critics rate it the best. However, i dislike the ending where Salim turn saint, the mob boss was kill so easily and Jamal was finally together with latika was too simple. It was like a fairly tale ending.

Michael J. Campton said...

Well after such a dismal story about Jamal's life on the streets, a super good-ending was expected. Its the nature of movies.

But I understand what you mean.

Pison The Great said...

just finished watching it 10 minutes ago, and i have to agree; the soundtrack of the movie is very profound that it shifts the movie to another totally different level.

When my roomie came back and saw me watching this movie, he said,

"Kenapa tengok cerita hindustan ni???"

Then I told him to listen.

Then he said this is not a Bollywood movie, just by listening to its soundtrack!! :D


They really preserve the poverty setting in this movie. Flawless and genuine!


Even though Dr. Pop rates SLUMDOG 9 out of 10, 10 out of 10 popocorns of yours would be as good, if not better! :D

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