Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire is the Golden Globe winning and Academy Award nominated film by critically acclaimed British director Danny Boyle. The film is a fairy tale like drama that follows the life of a poor Indian boy named Jamal (Dev Patel) who tries to endure the obstacles of growing up in the poverty stricken Indian slums, resisting the controlling and sometimes violent nature of his older brother Salim, while persistently trying to reunite with Latika; a fellow orphan whom he has loved since he was child. Jamal eventually lands a spot on the Indian version of the popular game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Through his life experiences (told in flashbacks) Jamal is able to answer some of the most inane and obscure trivia questions that are presented to him, in doing so he earns over 10 million rupees, which inevitably raises the suspicion of the shows host that Jamal might be cheating. We see how Jamal has endured the death of his mother and the abandonment by his brother Salim who after resorting to a life of crime has taken Latika for himself. By telling of the experiences that lead him to the final stage of the show, Jamal convinces the authorities that he is telling the truth, and is ultimately allowed to compete for the grand prize of 20,000,000 rupees and hopefully reunite with Lakita.

The film attempts to present itself as a purely Indian. The film Visually stresses the vast and overpopulated landscape of the impoverished Indian slums, while showing the hardships of the seemingly forgotten lower class of Indian society and the lack of interest/action from the rest of the nation. The film of course was directed by the British born Danny Boyle which created controversy among viewers world wide. Some viewers feel that the film is told from the point of view of a close- minded westerner who bases many elements of Indian culture on the stereotypes that are perpetuated through the media, even going so far as to say the that the film is a satire or even insult to Bollywood or Indian culture on a whole.

The film does contain certain stereotypes or even parodies of Indian culture, but ultimately I believe that the film is not so much about India as it is about the endearing qualities of love, friendship and how life experiences have a lasting effect on who we are and who we are to become. Ultimately the film could take place anywhere on earth and still contain the same messages and be interpreted in the same manner. Slumdog Millionaire is not an “Indian” film about poverty, love, and dreams, but it is rather a cinematic fairy tale that happens to take place in India. Audiences should not go into the film expecting to find a commentary on politics or the human condition, but rather appreciate the film for what it is; a simple story with typical characters, and a solid beginning middle and end.
The faults with the film lie in its predictable narrative, unbalanced pacing, and shallow character development. The first act of the film runs smoothly and does an excellent job of building suspense and allows the audience time to sympathize with the characters. As the film progresses the dialogue between the characters become clichéd and predictable, and the message of the film transforms from a tale of perseverance to a typical Hollywood love story. Although you continue to feel for the characters at this point in the film, their moments together are either overly dramatic or intentionally sappy.

The constant flashbacks disrupt the rising suspense and as the movie jumps from scene to scene I often felt unsatisfied and uninformed about what exactly the director was trying to say. The film follows the characters in three different stages. The youngest stages of the characters proved to provide the most response from the audience, whether it was a comical or sympathetic one. The oldest versions of the characters were very static and not at all engaging. The fact that the characters have little dialogue between one another and also that they were all first time actors could be reason for their somewhat stale performances.

The film is gorgeously shot and truly allows the audience to embrace the beauty and unique culture of India. The music is also an excellent aspect of the film and during some scenes is the only thing holding the audiences interest. Ultimately Slum Dog Millionaire delivers nothing new to the world of cinema, but Director Danny Boyle does bring his edgy style to a familiar genre. Although at times sappy and predictable, Slumdog Millionaire does achieve in telling an inspiring story of persevering in spite of hardship and the never ending bonds of love.

Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars


About Author

Ed Yealu

Ed Yealu was born and raised in New Jersey and in 2006 graduated from Cedar Grove High School. He is currently a 3rd year TV/Video/Film major at Hofstra University in Long Island, NY. He has always had a passion for film but he but he decided to turn it into a career when he was a freshman in high school. He is actively involved with Hofstra’s Student film magazine High Angle. He has always had a deep interest in foreign films and foreign cultures and is always eager to learn more about the world. Doesn’t speak Japanese but is known to try. In his opinion a good night is best spent with a DVD a warm blanket and a notepad.

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