Cast & Crew:
Director: Danny Boyle, Lovleen Tandon
Producer: Christian Colson
Screenwriter: Simon Beaufoy
Based on the book ‘Q & A’ written by Indian author Vikas Swarup
Cast: Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Tanay Chheda, Ayush Khedekar, Azharuddin Ismail, Rubina Ali, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Rarely you get to see a Hollywood film that depicts Indian poverty, its beating of cruelty that it keeps thrashing on those who have to suffer it, in such an authentic manner. After coming out of the theatre, nowhere in the back of my mind does the feeling of ‘ughhh! such filth’ takes it possession. But rather I am overwhelmed with feelings compassion for the characters of Jamal Malik, Latika and Salim. Danny Boyle has effectually managed to transport us to the world of corruption, flesh trade and insecurities where dreams are supposed to be dreams; never to assume reality.
The story evolves in a very strange but interesting manner where the first shot is of Jamal Malik trying to wipe his sweat while confidently answering questions arrogantly asked by the host of the show Prem Kumar. While he climbs the steps of success by answering each question correctly, after a while his answers and confidence start bothering you. How could a 18-year old chai wallah know which President of United States has been imprinted on the 1000$ note? Jamal couldn’t have even felt the crispiness of a 1000 rupee note in his life, so a 1000$ note is out of question. But the answers to his questions are flashbacks of true experiences that life has made him go through. But Prem Kapur doesn’t believe this theory and hands him over to the police where he meets Inspector Irrfan Khan who tortures him to know the ‘truth.
The intensity of the film starts deepening at this stage when Jamal starts unfolding the ‘truth’ behind each question as the television set in front bother him to some extent. Jamal goes through the hands of fate where a number of characters try to run or should we ‘ruin’ his life. His poverty leads him to Maman where he sophistically trains Jamal and his brother to be ‘professional’ beggars. Just to satiate his hunger for money Maman even goes to extent of removing eyes forcefully to make them look authentically blind. Salim’s sharp mind saves him and his brother from Maman when they escape his clutches by making him go through his own sin. Even at this stage where the scene is supposed to be forceful, Jamal practicing a ‘beggar song’ for Jamal brings a wry smile to your face.
The escape leads him to newer varieties of forceful poverty where he and Salim start picking pockets and cheating tourists at the Taj Mahal. This scene especially signals you a strong hint that poverty ethics have nothing to do with each other and at the end of the day a full stomach means a great day for the poor. Javed’s entry brings into focus the heart crushing point of flesh-trade which engulfs Latika who had been left behind in Maman’s hands.
Latika’s might have entered into the story a long time back when she was with Jamal and Salim at Maman or as she grew as a cultured prostitute just to please prying eyes. But Jamal and Latika’s reunion should have been the happiest moment in my heart which has been taken away by Salim who diplomatically sends her back to Javed.
The television box enters quietly again and again making a quiet but consistent impact on your mind. Years later Jamal wins the show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ and his flashback starts re-appearing in present tense. Salim and Jamal’s reunions, the emotional tension between them, Frieda’s rearrival and Jamal and Frieda’s love story go on a fast pace from now onwards.
Frieda as Javed’s mistress becomes unbearable for Jamal who then tries to reunite with her again. Their reunion story kind of becomes lengthy with less emotional attachment, but the ending where they kiss each other makes up to it with the scene so startlingly captured that you feel for Jamal and Latika.
Even a grey character like Salim can never be complete villain in Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionare”. As the end credits starts, you start entering the flashback of watching the movie, where dreams actually assume reality.