In the very beginning of the film when you see two brothers conversing with each other, the elder one stresses on the fact that he is elder and thus the younger one needs to buy his point, irrespective of its consequences. Incorporation of minute Indian nuances like these make Slumdog Millionaire one of the best English films set in India and revolving around the country’s most popular metropolis Mumbai. The film begins with cops (Irrfan Khan and Saurabh Shukla) interrogating an 18 year old Jamal (Dev Patel, decent) who they believe has cheated in the Indian version of quiz show ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’. The suspicion arises from Jamal’s street-kid upbringing and poverty stricken background. How can an uneducated orphan dwelling in slums win a quiz show!
The day before Jamal is slated to answer the 2 Crore rupee question, he is dragged to the police station to confess his cheating. Here, the film begins to unfold as Jamal narrates his past life and proves how each chapter of his life helped him answer the questions of the show. It is here that Danny impressively shuttles between past and present, injecting provocative flashbacks in the film which captures Jamal’s vibrant childhood to his current day life journey. Jamal’s emotional upheaval after losing his mother and childhood sweetheart Latika, his tryst with destiny and differences with brother Salim then form the story of Slumdog, rather a success story of Jamal who wins against all odds. Danny Boyle’s immaculate encapsulation of Mumbai without diluting its essence is what makes Slumdog an absolutely brilliant film. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle makes Mumbai look beautiful inspite of showing the shadiest of slums, asylums, filthy sewage and garbage disposal places of the city! It works because Anthony not just captures the locales but also manages to catch the sound, smell and pace of the city which keeps moving in spite of all odds. It shows victory and triumph of human spirit with a backdrop of tragedy and in times of acute poverty which makes it a feel good film.
Boyle’s filmmaking focuses on Jamal’s rags to reaches story rather than highlighting his ghastly and grotesque surroundings, thus making the film’s theme global. His unfiltered and un-photoshoped showcase of contemporary Mumbai is inexplicably real. A kid being blinded to earn money by a local rogue, a mother being slaughtered by a religious fanatic in front of her children, girls forced into prostitution, kids exploiting foreigners... you choose to turn a blind eye towards the ‘slum life’ of Mumbai. You’d rather offer a rupee to a street urchin, sympathise with him and then walk away worrying about your mundane activities. AR Rahman’s hypnotic music deserves a special mention. Jai Ho, Ringa Ringa and all the background scores are simply mesmerizing (I bet all the Indians around the world will be praying for him to be awarded Oscar winner for his excellent work).Child actors Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (as young Jamal), Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail (Salim) are the soul of Slumdog Millionaire...brilliant casting by Loveleen Tandan. Madhur Mittal is excellent as the grown-up Salim and Dev Patel is decent. Freida Pinto does justice to her small but pivotal role. Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan have nothing great to do but make an impression. Slumdog presents you a simple tale of survival, love and longing set ini Mumbai. The film romances Mumbai without enhancing its beauty or degrading its character, it makes you love the city, just the way it is.
This one is indeed a masterpiece Mr Boyle.