Went to see “Slumdog Millionaire” last night not having an inkling what it was about. Had detected the Oscar buzz and noticed the poster image of the lead couple, but genuinely had managed to miss reading, seeing or hearing anything like a review or a trailer. I had even failed to connect some recent Bollywood media references with this film, and not noticed the “Who wants to be a Millionaire” references. So I went in cold, expecting some cheesey chick-flick.
What a treat, on so many levels. The best movie I can recall seeing in a very long time …. spoiler warning ….
On the face of it, it’s Hollywood plot #1, boy meets girl, circumstances drag them apart to near-death experiences, and mixture of fate and determination bring them to the obligatory tight-shot as they finally kiss, love having conquered all. I was actually disappointed that the (Oslo) audience did not get up to dance and cheer as the credits rolled with the Bollywood-style curtain calls. (But then we’ve had surreal cinema audience experiences here before. *)
The 2008 Mumbai hotel and railway station terrorist events must have created some interesting production team meetings, concerned as the film is with Hindu vs Moslem vs the underworld of the Westernization of the Indian economy set against those very same Bombay locations – setting brother against brother – from the perspective of street-wise Moslem kids. Brave stuff.
“Millionaire” provides not only the insidious example of a Western meme creeping in to dominate popular culture, but of course is the vehicle to create the suspense and tension as each “chapter” is played out. Inspired. Inspiring too the sights, sounds and smells of the locations and the characters, especially the child actors playing the eponymous slum-dogs.
Millionaire also provides the “riches” in this rags to Raja, raga-musical tale, where it is so evident that love drives the final gamble. He makes the right choice. It is of course not written, but determined; By all too human intentions.
OK, so maybe the predictable outcome was a little too cheesey, and why did they have to show us a shot of the cell phone falling onto the car seat to signal its later significance. Minor flaws in a well executed emotional whirlwind with some deep and lasting messages. Go see, and don’t fail to get up and dance as the credits roll.
[(*) The previous Oslo fim experience ? The audience laughing at the ironic discovery of the pet puppy hidden amongst the matket produce on the boat, after Apocalypse Now’s Mekong patrol crew had machine-gunned the local occupants . Irony yes, but laugh ?]
[Post Note … and this is reassuring.]