After getting Oscar-winning song “Jai Ho” stuck in a perpetual loop in my head last week, my parents and I decided to head out to the movies to see “Slumdog Millionaire,” a gritty and moving account of a young man’s rise from poverty to fame in the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, India. I haven’t stopped thinking about the film since I saw it Saturday!
Jamal, our protagonist, travels around the country with his brother eking out a hard-scrabble income and looking for his long-lost love, Latika, a childhood friend whom he was viciously separated from years before. After he finds Latika only to lose her again, Jamal tries out to be on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” titled “Kaun Banega Crorepati.” He doesn’t for a minute believe he’s going to win — he just knows that Latika will be watching the show with the rest of India, and he’s desperate to find her. And he does — after a series of twists of destiny that simultaneously bring them together and pull them apart. But ultimately bring them together again.
I can’t say exactly what I loved about this film — it was just as that all the elements combined to create a poignant work that had my head spinning. I’ll be frank and say that the violence in the movie was disturbing — and there were several scenes I never saw coming. I was on the edge of my seat with worry, really, and I had to keep reminding myself it was just a movie . . . it was just hard to watch such devastating things happen in quick succession.
But the story has a happy ending.
Ultimately, the movie was about hope — and it was about destiny. Some of the seemingly unplausible plot points of “Slumdog Millionaire” can easily be traced back to this idea of fate, the knowledge that “it is written.” Latika and Jamal find each other in a city of more than 90 million residents because they’re supposed to find each other. Oh, I love fate! 🙂 The love story here was spectacular, and really sweeping. When Jamal finds Latika and floats into her kitchen like a ghost to wrap his arms around her, I definitely had tears in my eyes. Actors Dev Patel and Freida Pinto were amazing — and that scene was so beautiful.
“Slumdog” picked up a massive haul of eight Academy Awards Feb. 22, including the award of Best Director and Best Picture. I saw fellow-nominee “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” back in December and really enjoyed it, too, and recently thought that perhaps Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett’s stunning film should have won. But while I liked “Button” and was completely engrossed in the story and cinematography, I’ve definitely thought more about “Slumdog” since leaving the theater. The film has opened widely in many areas (hey, including Southern Maryland!) and I would absolutely recommend it. Just bear in mind that it’s rated R for a reason — definitely no one younger than 17 should be there. And be ready to avert your eyes if, like me, you can’t stand the gritty stuff.