Slumdog Millionaire Movie Review by Sputnik

Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Saurabh Shukla, Mahesh Manjrekar, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail

Slumdog Millionaire is definitely Oscar worthy. The movie is at its heart a beautiful love story set against the backdrop of slums and the popular TV show Who wants to be a Millionaire. Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is a contestant on the indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, who has made it to the final question for 20 million rupees. Prem (Anil Kapoor), the host of the show, cannot accept that a chaiwalla who grew up in the slums can get that far, and accuses him of cheating and has him handed over to the cops. The cops (Irrfan Khan and Saurabh Shukla) interrogate him and Jamal explains how he knew the answers to the questions.

There are a series of flashbacks for each answer. The movie begins with the kids being chased by a cop for playing and we are shown the small lanes and bylanes of the slums with bird eye views. Then there’s a scene how the young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) gets the autograph of Amitabh Bachchan. The scene is just brilliant but some may like the scene and a lot may hate it. Then we are shown how his mother died during the Hindu-Muslim riots and how he and his elder brother Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail) befriended Latika (Rubiana Ali). Salim saves Jamal from being blinded by Maman (Ankur Vikal) and they escape but Latika gets left behind. The brothers live on trains selling goods.

The teenage Jamal (now played by Tanay Chheda), suddenly becomes a tour guide. His explanation for Mumtaz’s death is just hilarious. His brother Salim (now played by Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala) has become a pickpocket. They return to Mumbai to find Latika in a brothel and rescue her. Salim kills Maman in the process and becomes a goon for Maman’s rival Javed (Mahesh Manjrekar). Jamal then loses Latika to Salim.

The grown up Jamal (played by Dev Patel), serves tea at a call centre of a cell phone company. He gets in touch with Salim and is able to locate Latika, who is now living with Javed. Latika comes to the train station to meet Jamal but is captured by Salim and his goons. Jamal in his quest to reach her gets on the TV show as she likes to watch it. Does he win the TV show and can he get back with her is what the rest of the movie is about.

Ayush Mahesh Khedekar who plays the youngest Jamal is the best Jamal in the movie. He is very cute and his expressions are wonderful. He acts brilliantly and his dialogues are also very well written. He displays such innocence when he is taken to be blinded and he is adorable asking for 50 rupees for singing a bhajan saying he is a professional. Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail who plays the youngest Salim and Rubina Ali (the youngest Latika) are also pretty good. Tanay Chheda, the kid fom Taare Zameen Par, who plays the middle Jamal and Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala (the middle Salim) are decent. Dev Patel, who plays the grown up Jamal, does’nt look that Indian and he has an accent. In some scenes like the 1000 rupee question scene his mannerisms also dont look Indian. The director should have looked more for an Indian guy to play this part. Frieda Pinto is pretty good as the grown up Latika. Anil Kapoor is very good as the condescending and jealous host. Irrfan Khan and Saurabh Shukla are adequate. Mahesh Manjrekar does his same act as the don.

A R Rahman’s background music and Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography take the movie to a completely different level. This is definitely A R Rahman’s best work and the music in so varied with hip hop, pop and classical music. He will definitely win the Oscar for Best Original Score and Best Original Song. ‘O Saya’ and ‘Jai Ho’ are both equally good though Jai Ho has beautiful lyrics by India’s best lyricist Gulzar and Gulzar deserves an Oscar for his lyrics. The song is brilliantly picturized with the end credits rolling. Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography is brilliant and he will definitely win the Oscar for Best Cinematography.

The slum scenes are brilliantly shot be it the riots scene, or the school scene or the chase scene or the final scenes. The train scenes are absolutely brilliant especially the roti stealing scene. Now, the flaws. Some of the explanations for the answers are too contrived like how would Jamal know who wrote the bhajan or how would a blind little kid know who is on the hundred dollar bill or how would a teenager know who invented the gun. The movie starts off in Hindi and then in the second phase Jamal and Salim and everybody else starts speaking in english which suddenly seems contrived as the kids did not go to school that much. The excuse for it is that the movie is made for a world audience and in that case they should have had the youngest kids speak in english too for continuity sake.

The movie surely has its flaws but can be overlooked in the larger context. Danny Boyle’s direction is brilliant and he has captured Mumbai and the Indian culture and life pretty well and needs to be commended for that. The movie may infact win the Best Picture and Best Director award. A R Rahman and Anthony Dod Mantle will definitely win Oscars.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Brilliant)

  1. Reddemon 10 years ago

    I am Surprised after reading your review on SM!
    May be NRI’s like that way.

    • Suprabh 10 years ago

      not necessarily… I did not like it at all. It was entertaining but I find it a very wrong movie.

      • Reddemon 10 years ago

        It was a good movie but not certainly Oscar worthy.

        ‘Danny Boyle’s direction is brilliant and he has captured Mumbai and the Indian culture and life pretty well and needs to be commended for that’
        agree that the direction is very good but u should change ‘Mumbai and the Indian culture and life pretty well’ into Mumbai’s poverty.

        And when did they Show the ‘Indian Culture’ ?? Did i miss anything in the movie?

        • FS 10 years ago

          It is an excellent movie and deserved every award although I didn’t like the title. Music and background score, the cinematography, the way it was executed is brilliant. Performances by those little kids is of top notch and exceptional. Though it deserved all the awards, Oscars is as bias as any other Indian film awards.

        • Author
          sputnik 10 years ago

          So the high rises in the later half of the movie are also a sign of India’s poverty? There was an extensive discussion on Slumdog Millionaire and poverty here on some other thread. So don’t want to go there.

  2. Serenzy 10 years ago

    “Some of the
    explanations for the answers
    are too contrived like how
    would Jamal know who
    wrote the bhajan or how would a blind little kid know
    who is on the hundred dollar
    bill or how would a teenager
    know who invented the gun.”

    For that, you would’ve to read the book on which it was based upon – Q&A by Vikas Swarup – which was actually better than the movie with detailed/logical explanations behind all the Questions asked on the Game Show.

  3. Serenzy 10 years ago

    “The movie surely has its flaws
    but can be overlooked in the
    larger context.”

    A similar arguement can be made for – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag 😀

    Anyways, I liked the movie very much when I saw it(and this was before it got Famous with all the hoopla) and the childhood sequences were the best part of the movie.
    Though NOT exactly OSCAR-Worthy, I’m happy it got so much recognition and won prestigious awards/accolades(irrespective of the fact that how the West viewed ‘India’ as a country in it).

    • Author
      sputnik 10 years ago

      Slumdog Millionaire was not a biopic. Imagine the movie Gandhi showing Gandhi romancing some South African woman and singing song in some club and then sowing songs with Kasturba Gandhi. Also show someone narrating Gandhi’s story with flashback in flashback and so on. You get the drift at what I am trying to say 😉

  4. Serenzy 10 years ago

    Yes, I get the drift 🙂

    But Viacom18 would’ve been making losses today if BMB would’ve been as serious, dry and realistic as Gandhi.
    The ‘Masala-Quotient’ was a necessary factor they had to add to it, to make it commercially viable to a large amount of the audience and also showcase Milkha’s Biopic and Life in the process.

    It was a very good movie with an excellent lead performance IMHO but it cannot be re-watched with the same interest/intensity.

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