And now some more Moviegasm with The Ironist!
After watching Slumdog Millionaire, I can say with absolute certainty that I am glad I do not live in a country like India. I am glad I do not live in a country where the police force is overweight and corrupt, a country where individuals are persecuted for being different, a country in which the quality of life of it’s inhabitants is so polarized. A country in which millions of individuals are so impoverished that they have no other option but to live in the slums. I am glad that none of these issues plague the good ol’e U S of A. And if you say otherwise, I’ll punch you square in the mouth. On that note I would go so far as to say that with the exception of Omaha, Nebraska and parts of Wyoming, that the United States is one of the greatest countries in North America, or at least somewhere in the top five.
Despite all of it’s shortcomings, even in a place as miserable as India, dreams can come true. That is what Slumdog Millionaire is all about. At it’s core it is a love story, a tale as old as time itself, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back. Except in the case of Slumdog, the circumstances in which boy (Jamal) meets girl (Latika) are less then the desirable. After witnessing their parents being ruthlessly murdered via machete, the two of them are orphaned; having no one else to turn to, they turn to each other.
Jamal has an older brother, Salim, who is kind of a dick. Aside from making Jamal go swimming in what can only be described as the Indian equivalent to a septic tank, Salim is the reason behind why boy (Jamal) loses girl (Latika) not once but twice. By the end of film Salim laments the error of his dickish ways and makes it possible for Latika and Jamal to be reunited (The fact that Jamal won millions of dollars on national television probably didn’t hurt his cause either).
There is nothing groundbreaking about the story that is being told, it just happens to be told very well. Slumdog is very Forest Gump in many respects, seeing as how both story’s chronicle the life of an individual through a series of flashbacks. Slumdog begins in a police interrogation room, where we see our hero being tortured. Jamal is one question away from winning it all on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He has made it further than anyone ever has before on the show, and because he is a poor kid from the slums of Mumbai, India, and has received no formal education, the authorities automatically assume that he must have been cheating. What the authorities didn’t realize is that Jamal has received a degree from the School of Hard Knocks (He majored in pan handling and got a minor in video montages featuring the music of British recording artist M.I.A.)
The authorities go through every question and ask him how he knew the answer. As it turns out, Jamal was able to relate most of the questions he was asked on the show, to some traumatic childhood experience that has scarred him for life. For example, one of the question’s he was asked was, “What does the Hindu God Rama hold in his hand?” Now because Jamal saw a child dressed up as Rama on the day his mother was murdered, he knew that the answer to that question was, a bow and arrow. And that is pretty much how the story is told, each question reveals another aspect of Jamal’s life, until the film’s climax, wherein our hero, becomes a celebrity, a millionaire and gets the girl, all in a matter of seconds. It’s the American dream, Bollywood style!
The film isn’t without it’s flaws, namely the host of the Indian Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Not only does he look like an ardent child molester, but he is about as witty as a tax return. I never thought that anyone could make me miss Regis “Subtle as a Freight Train” Philbin; but he is still better than Meredith Viera. Another low point in the film was the performance of Dev Patel, he is the actor that played the adult Jamal. The children in this movie acted circles around Dev, let’s just say that he has about as much charisma as a piece of styrofoam, and leave it at that.
In closing I would just like to say that the dance routine performed during the ending credits, is quite possibly one of the greatest things ever put on celluloid. In fact, all movies should end that way from now on.