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Slumdog Millionaire

   
 

Top Dog!

   

 

  

 

If you haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire as yet, then we say to you - you must!  It's destined to live on in that high shelf of cinematic wonders . . . this is one for the ages. 

It is indefinable - a global film - Danny Boyle from Manchester has become the poet of Mumbai.  From the director who gave us Trainspotting and 28 Days Later comes something that is in fact far more than a song of the city, this city which has been in the news and in all our hearts recently.  He has, by singing a song so operatic and wonderful, created something that is not only a song of Mumbai, but the song of every impossible dreamer; the movie has the same strange universal power of fairy tales. 

The movie succeeds because of the power of storytelling, and, in particular, the power of exaggeration.  It is more Mumbai than Mumbai itself.  The villains are more villainous, love is impossibly true, fate is inexorable and vicious, yet beautifully twisted.  Simon Beaufoy, who has brilliantly adapted the screenplay from a novel by Vikas Swarup, said of the film: "It's operatic, it's melodramatic. It's caricature. It's massive plot shifts. It's huge coincidences."  Yet, the exaggeration is always controlled, the wantonness is always orchestrated.  Color and sound and narrative are gorgeously manipulated to create a series of sketches.  Danny Boyle says that he walked around with Suketu Mehta's book on Mumbai, Maximum City, as inspiration and resource, but we wonder if somehow his film is far more evocative - it's the idea of the poetic vignette as opposed to the exhaustive catalog.  Boyle has with his movie captured the soul of a city and then sung it so dramatically that he has in fact created an über-Mumbai of the imagination.

The basic premise is simple enough - Jamal (Dev Patel) is a young chai-wallah who serves tea at a call-center in Mumbai.  Through an improbable set of circumstances he lands on 'Who wants to be a Millionaire' with Anil Kapoor playing the slimy host to perfection.  The movie opens with Jamal on the verge of winning and then weaves back and forth through his impossible, improbable life and the lives of his brother Salim and the beautiful orphan Latika.  The child actors are wonderfully natural, and there is a depth of nuanced character even in childhood.  Irrfan Khan, with his marvelously expressive face, plays good cop bad cop. 

The movie is an aria that gets down-and-dirty and at the same time hits all the high notes! 

 

See: Slumdog Millionaire 

Directed by Danny Boyle; written by Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel “Q & A” by Vikas Swarup; director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantel; edited by Chris Dickens; music by A. R. Rahman; production designer, Mark Digby; produced by Christian Colson; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Running time: 2 hours.

 

Tags:  film  india 

 

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