The appeal of a movie lies in mirroring a society truthfully and providing food for thought. Of late, Bollywood has been trying to realize its potential. This movie sets the standard for our film makers to emulate.
Based on a novel, 'Q & A' by Vikas Swarup, this movie celebrates the innate good nature of the human spirit. Russian master Dostoevsky said "I cannot and will not believe that evil is man's natural state". After reading Mr. Adiga's 'The White Tiger', one would almost come to believe that "good" is the last thing on a poor slum dweller's mind. Slumdog Millionaire, having won 4 golden globes (for best motion picture, best director, best original score and best screenplay) is a simple story told in a most beautiful manner. I remembered another book - City of Joy - as I was watching the movie and cannot help but feel that abject poverty does not make devils out of human beings.
Coming back to the movie, it operates at different levels. At one level, it is the story of 3 children and how they struggle through life into adulthood. At another level, it is the triumph of the metaphoric good over evil, innocence over ruthlessness and scheming. It is also the story of the slum dweller - how unimaginably poverty-stricken and innocent a childhood, the children in the movie have. They are poor, but they partake of life's fragrances in their own sweet ways.
The first half of the movie stands out as it records the growth of the three children, one innocent and guileless, one forced by circumstances and hardened by life's challenges and the other child resigned and full of vibrant life. All the 3 child actors have done a remarkable job in this aspect. Traveling by trains and as guides, they steal the show. If one remembers the movie, it is largely because of their act where the innocence is established.
"If it wasn't for Ram and Allah, I would still have a mother.", says Jamal played by Dev Patel. It is loaded with meaning, capturing the futility and waste of human life when communal tensions and animosity run high.
The second half is just above ordinary, save for some brilliant dialogues that elevate the underdog. "When somebody asks me a question, I tell them the answer"! Irfan Khan is again impressive and acts his part effortlessly. Anil Kapoor looks the part and talks the part most importantly.
The touch of a brilliant director is in managing to make a simple scene excellent and the English director, Danny Boyle shows this all along. A.R Rehman stamps his class and authority and is now deservedly getting the due credit. As the momentum builds up towards the end, the viewer roots for the Slumdog and more than anything, wants the lead pair to unite. Freida Pinto, playing Latika emotes grief and incredible joy as demanded by the role.
If one thinks that, this is another movie made to showcase India's poverty to the west, one cannot be more mistaken. It is a sweet, tender triumph of human spirit and watch it to see India in all its colors. In the near future, its success story will be featured in many columns and I wish that more such movies are churned out...