The story of the life of an impoverished Indian teen Jamal Malik, who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to be A Millionaire?", wins, and is then suspected of cheating.
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This movie focuses on Jamal Malik, an uneducated young boy living in the poor slums of India, who has nothing except for a brother and a friend. Years later, after many adventures, he ends up on a gameshow which happens to be the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Things start to potentially turn around for Jamal as he makes it all the way up to the final question for 20 million rupies (1 million dollars in the U.S.). But is he cheating? No. Question by question, the film tells us how Jamal knows the answers through his life experiences.
This film makes many great acomplishments. The movie has great cinematography as it shows different cultures of India, with the help of well done editing and breathtaking camera shots. But the most phenominal part of the movie is the ending. The film is filled with great dialouge and acting, but the last scenes of the film are especially tense, and they really got me inside of the story, and I think that is what any movie's ultimate goal should be. Just wait until Jamal phones a friend. Your eyes will be glued to the screen and you'll see what I mean.
Suprisingly enough, this movie does have a couple faults here and there. For about 10-15 minutes, the film drags within the middle part. There was nothing really speacial or gripping during those couple of scenes because I felt that the movie was trying a little too hard to force the chemistry between the main charecters.
Overall, Slumdog Millionaire is a very well made film that inspires you to belive in yourself no matter what position you are in. My prediction is that this will win the Best Picture Oscar. Does it deserve it in my opinion? No. I'd rather see "The Dark Knight" or "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" win. But it is still an amazing movie and one of the best of the year.
To make it short and sweet,everything you have heard about this movie is true. If you only see one more movie all year,make it this one. I can't say enough about this fantastic film that grabs you from the start and never let's go. A very poor young man in India wins a million dollars on a game show and is then accused of cheating, although they can't seem to prove it. His life is then brought back in flashbacks to reveal the reason for his knowledge. The young cast does an outstanding job. The very realistic scenes of that country's slums will not promote any tourism there anytime soon, but makes for a movie experience not seen for quite some time.
Scenes of poverty and squalour may appear romantic to Westerners and to our snooty elite but for us ordinary Indians they are nothing new. They are an everyday reality. However, one wonders what sort of mind can find such images aesthetically pleasing. Party-hopping socialites (for example, Shobhaa De after all her bombast of "enough is enough" after the Mumbai attack, went and watched a pirated copy!) who are distanced from such reality may find this film an "eye-opener" but for us it IS poverty-porn. It IS slum-tourism. The music/soundtrack and the technical quality of the film is excellent; but, overall, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Slumdog MillionaireÃ¢â‚¬Â is unrealistic & overrated because:
1) The director seems to RELISH showing violence. Some of it (like the police-torture) is quite needless. And why was the boy arrested in the first place? On what charge? Was it realistic?
2) How can a boy growing up in slums speak such accented English? Even if one assumes that the language he actually uses to communicate with the game-show host and the police officer is Hindi (granting the director the creative license to use a language better suited for international audiences), there are 2 instances where it is stretched too far: (a) when the boy becomes a Ã¢â‚¬ËœguideÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for foreign tourists at the Taj Mahal & (b) when he becomes a substitute-operator at the call-centre.
3) When the boy uses his Ã¢â‚¬ËœlifelineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ during the game-show, his friend discovers that she has forgotten her mobile and has to run back for it. This is plain Bollywood masala! Did the director HAVE to make it so melodramatic?
4) How did the boy know who invented the revolver just by watching his brother use it?
How does his friend know about Benjamin Franklin (something which many Americans themselves donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know!)?
5) Ã¢â‚¬Å“Darshan Do GhanshyamÃ¢â‚¬Â is NOT written by Surdas. It is written by Gopal Singh Nepali for the movie Narsi Bhagat (1957). This song is also credited as traditional and originally written by 15th century poet Narsi Mehta, whose life that film is based on.
6) After winning the game-show, the boy sits on the railway platform and nobody recognizes him! Considering the popularity of the show, is that realistic?
7) Two glaring omissions: To get invited to the show one has to answer several GK questions over phone or Internet. Even after making it to the show, a contestant can reach the hot-seat only after qualifying through Ã¢â‚¬Å“fastest finger firstÃ¢â‚¬Â. All this is conveniently forgotten in the film.
8) And of course the greatest flaw in the storyline: programmes like 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' and 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' are NOT telecast live. As a result the entire structure of the film becomes unrealistic. For a film that boasts of being realistic such a flaw cannot be overlooked.
The Academy will lose its credibility if this film gets the Best Picture or Best Director awards.
Slumdog Millionaire (PG) * * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Remember the hoopla surrounding the Who Wants to Be A Millionaire television series? Less than five years ago that game show became a phenomena not only in North America but around the world, making a bigger household name of Regis Philbin. Chances are good that this show will gain even more converts after viewing Slumdog Millionaire, a wildly engaging drama from Fox Searchlight Films now striking a sympathetic chord at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas.
Wins at film festivals have been common for this widely acclaimed film. All the action here centres on Jamal Malik, a young worker from a high tech company who somehow becomes a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Most contestants who appear on this or any other television game show know what pressure is all about. Here, however, the pressure reaches the outer limits as this fish out of water player has an unbelievable story to tell.
Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) teams up with director Luveleen Tandan with support from Warner Brothers films to mount a truly impressive undertaking with masterful storytelling finesse. Danger surrounds the Indian version of the show with some coming to question just how a lowly Indian menial labourer could possibly know all the right answers on route to an unbelievably large jackpot, in the millions of rupees no less.
While the squeeze is put on Jamal we are inundated with flashbacks to his childhood to see how he came to his current predicament. As a child Jamal grew up with his brother Salim and mother in the slums of India and the boys underwent harsh treatment largely sometimes because of his faith. Unspeakable horrors confront both boys and those images and pent-up fears/hostilities have a clear impact on their teen years and adult lives. Love, romance and lust also enter into the equation as a young orphan named Latika seems to leave an indelible impression on the lads, and older grown ups as she ages.
Full of violence and tense moments Slumdog Millionaire comes up a winner, turning out to be one of the best movies of the year. Gorgeous cinematography of the Indian continent engulfs viewers. Chases through the slums of Calcutta add a more realistic feel to this movie thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s long on atmosphere and full of great performances that at times will make you weep or cringe. Various actors play the central characters through their lives but one must single out Dev Patel who lights up the screen as the sad-eyed Jamal, a man in love for years but not quite able to close the deal often through no fault of his own. And, in a stunning debut, Freida Pinto shines as Latika, the woman at the centre of much consternation in this story.
Remember also to stay for the credits as the filmmakers liven things up considerably after a two hour look into a very troubled family, some low-life criminals, and a game capable of turning us all on.
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