The film ”Slumdog Millionare” tells a compelling story of an eighteen year old Indian boy from the dirty slums of Mumbai who manages to cash in the main prize of the TV-show ”Who wants to be a millionaire?” Combined with the directing of Danny Boyle and co-direction from Indian Lovleen Tandan, this 2008 movie is a great mash up between Hollywood and Bollywood. The film based on Vikars Swarup’s novel tells a dramatic and romantic story with a twist of humour through a set of very cogent actors.
The protagonist of this movie is eighteen year old “slumdog” Jamal Malik. Taking Jamal’s past in consideration, it’s highly unlikely that an uneducated boy from the Mumbai slums is able to reach the final question of “Who want’s to be a millionaire?” Some people aren’t happy with this, and he is being accused for deceit. This is primarily what we are being introduced to in the opening scene, and it starts off with Jamal being interrogated and tortured by suspicious minds who think he has cheated. The story then flashes back in time to the day he participated on the TV show. Shortly after the story takes a leap back to his childhood, where Jamal and his brother, Salim, and some friend are running away from Indian officers for playing of private property. Throughout the movie we unravel more stories of his life, which ultimately helps him win the main prize.
As Jamal continues to answer questions, he looks back at his childhood. We soon find out that Jamal’s mother is killed and that Jamal is forced to live on the streets with his brother, Salim. During their stay at the reckless streets of Mumbai they meet a girl named Latika. The three of them is then later discovered by a man who runs an orphanage where they get shelter and food, in return the children is sent out on the streets during the day to collect money as beggars. As it turns out the man is not as nice as he appears to be and Jamal and Salim manages to escape, unwillingly leaving Latika behind. Once again Jamal and Salim are back on the streets.
As the story progresses Jamal is portrayed as a person who never gives up on what he sets out to do. In this context, it’s his quest to find the love of his life, Latika. His love for her sets him out on a life experiencing journey which finally places him in the seat of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” His brother, Salim on the other hand is portrayed as a more dynamic person. In fact he is quite unreliable, he is not an evil person, but his selfishness and hunger for money and control hurts the ones around him, tearing him apart from his own brother and rescinding their connection.
As stated earlier there are flashbacks in this movie, in fact the flashbacks are present throughout the whole movie. The fascinating thing about this though is how cleverly the directors have combined two stories running parallel to each other, making them crash together during the end and creating the present. This leaves the viewer curious how Jamal will answer the final question in an exciting and creative way.
Through clever camera use and light setting, the film has an intriguing feeling to it. There is a lot of shifting between warm colours and dark colours, the latter mostly used in dramatic and scenes shot during the night. The warm colours on the other hand create a feeling of heat which fits perfectly to the setting. Also the music plays a big role in setting the mood of the film. The use of Indian music especially furthers the intriguing feeling. Focusing on camera use, it’s interesting to see the way the directors shot scenes from a children’s point of view during the flashback scenes from Jamal’s childhood.
This gives the viewer a feeling that the children are small compared to the big wide world. Furthermore a lot of close-up shots are used during conversations which give the viewer the ability to see more detailed facial expressions which is something that pulls the viewer more in to the story. Also worth mentioning is the contrast we see of the wealthy parts of India compared the poor parts through the use of camera. For example we get an overview from the Mumbai slum during one of the flashbacks; this really helps stating that India has had an enormous economic growth during recent years.
In my eyes the film creates a message that’s telling you to never let go of your goals, and to be optimistic and focused. Just because someone grew up with a poor and tough childhood, it does not mean that this person have a lesser intellect life or is worth less than you. Anything is possible, with good dose luck. Subliminally I think this movie also wants to show off India’s present economic situation compared to a decade ago and how India’s wealth has increased.
Personally I really enjoyed watching this film, one of the main reasons for that is the way the story is laid out. It makes it exciting and it also blows some new life in to the well know “Who wants to be a millionaire?” It is certainly not the first thing I would have thought making a movie about. The fact that behind every question there is a story is quite exciting and it leaves me waiting for the next turn. On this foundation, I strongly recommend this movie to everyone.