Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Slumdog Millionaire" movie review

This is a very original movie. Americans aren't normally shown this quality of a movie set in India, and it is exceptionally well-done. I think Indians should be proud of this movie and the way it portrays the country and shows its scenery and slices of socioeconomic strata.

It takes awhile for the Slumdog story to get into its stride, and some scenes are off-putting. There are many very imaginative scenes; orphans and orphanages in modern India (makes me wonder if there are any like this now), Muslims on a rampage setting fires, and little boys standing atop moving trains and even hanging on the side and jumping on and off them. There are scenes of beggar children and main actor Dev Patel's interrogation really go far beyond what audiences here usually see. The child actors appear to be expected to do far more than American movies usually show children doing.

There are very many changes of scenery over many years. The changing face of the city, presumably of Mumbai, the filthiness of slums, the masses of passengers at trains stations are brought up close, raw and believable, but at the same time not overdone. It's well worth watching through to the end, and even through the credits. The music and settings are very strong features. The story ends happily for the main character and it leaves you satisfied that goodness is rewarded, even if some of the bad guys appear to go unpunished.

I am surprised at how riveting and strong the entire movie is. The entire packed audience sat still and spellbound throughout, mesmerized by the glowing and effective performances and skilful editing and direction. I felt a range of emotions, happy, sad, angry at injustices, sympathetic to the poor, and it made me laugh as well. There is also an unexpected blend of romance and action, considering that the movie features a popular television show, the corrupt Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire".

Okay, this may sound naive, but why aren't human rights groups and lawyers busier in India? If this movie is any indication, they have a lot of work to do.

I think if any movie this year is going to get awards for originality and photography, Slumdog Millionaire would be a good pick.

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