Wednesday, 11 February 2009

It is written

I know I've been a little wanting in the blogging department, but I've been sick (mysteriously and unhappily) twice in the past two weeks, been to Melbourne twice in a week (with the upside being that I've been both Slumdog Millionaire and Milk [go read Kayleigh's review, it sums up exactly how amazing a film it is, but better still, go see it!!] both of which I LOVED and are totally deserving of the awards I want them to win at the Oscars) and then visited my mother's family for four days over the weekend. Sara was supposed to be coming to stay this weekend, but she's sick too, and might not be able to make it (to my dismay.) Many stories to come about my fabulous adventures in America, but for now - look! Photos!

Everybody knows that Slumdog Millionaire is about a poor boy from the slums who wins – and wins big – on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? But much like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button it is told in reflection, when the boy – Jamal (Dev Patel, who you may recognise from Skins) – is arrested and tortured under the (contrived) suspicion of cheating. The beginning torture scenes are shocking and horrific, and it sets the tone for much of the film, which does not shy away from the harsh reality of the slums and poverty in India.

riding the bus to exploitation Pictures, Images and Photos

Perhaps the reason this film is so popular is because it’s a film about overcoming adversity (and when doesn’t Hollywood love an underdog story, especially when the underdog wins?), survival, family, friendship, religion, prejudice, love, hope, and above all, an impossible dream of escape. Of course, it’s clichéd slightly but tell me a movie that isn’t in some way predictable. There are also some humorous references to Western stereotypes of India, primarily being the call centres and the Taj Mahal. But we would do well to remember that, as Sharanya says, this film shows but a cross section of Mumbai, not the whole, and certainly not the whole of India. Like any country, impoverished or not, and especially one struggling with a booming population of more than a billion, there are extremes of lifestyle and wealth, both in excess and a lack of, and all levels in between.

The real stars of Slumdog are the Indian children who play the younger Jamal, his older brother Salim and love interest Latika, another refreshing reason to love this film; there are no big name, Hollywood actors in this film. For the most part, they’re native Indians (what do you call someone from Mumbai?) who capture the spirit of a city that has proved – mostly recently this November – resilient.

slumdog Pictures, Images and Photos

“What can a slumdog possibly know?”

“The answers.”

It seems improbable, almost downright impossible that Jamal should know any – let alone all – of the answers the show throws at him. But various and sundry turns his life has taken, from orphaned and homeless to beggar to tour guide to cook to serving tea at a call centre, means he knows more than people think.

However, the magnificence of this film lies not only in the story being told (so uplifting, turbulent and emotional) but in the sensation of it, being expressed and felt and shared through sweeping panoramas, unflinching close ups, a thrilling soundtrack (one of the highlights) and a determination not just to show but to evoke the slumdog experience, as much as possible through the medium of the screen. And it works; the audience laughed collectively when Jamal climbs out through a long drop to get an autograph from his favourite Indian film star, gasped and became palpably tense when it came to that final question. I myself got the shakes and then cried (several times throughout, probably more than I’ve cried in any other film – I don’t tend to cry that much, despite what jdl might tell you). You are inhuman or insensitive if you walk away from this film unmoved.

slumdog4 Pictures, Images and Photos





Sharanya said...

AWWW, that last scene! *sighs* It is a little surreal; no one in India would kiss in a public place, coz you get FINED(!) but well, like you said, its a movie. That's VT station, btw, where I spend half my life; I spend an average of 8 hours a week there, on that very platform waiting for my train :)

The review was incredible. I mean, you didnt just rave, you raved with reason. I'm impressed, as usual :D

ps: It is my firm belief that boys will never understand why girls cry. I'll marry a guy who DOES, honestly. And, they're called Bombayites/Mumbaikars :)

I love you!

Just a girl said...

Thanks S!

I LOVED that final scene, and the dancing during the credits absolutely cracked me up. :D

Oooh, I like it: Mumbaikars is my new favourite word!

Ha ha, you know what they say, "no man is worth your tears and the one who is won't make you cry." Here's to finding those men! ;-)


Arielle said...

I love Dev Patel now.

Julia said...

I saw Slumdog Millionaire tonight... it was amazing!! I loved it and I really hope it wins a best picture Oscar to go with its Golden Globe.

Although, it had the negative side effect of making my friend and I feel even worse about the lack of grand-gestures from guys in our lives.

still worth it though, finally a movie worth my $8.75!

Sharanya said...

WHERE is The Impatient Photographer?! Did you delete that blog?! Why?!