Movie Review - Slumdog Millionaire

Despite cashing its check as a movie that depicts the struggles of a young boy in the Mumbai slums, Slumdog Millionaire is quite shamelessly a post-modernistic fairy tale. It is a good movie by any standard, mind you. In fact, it is probably one of the best movies of the year. Yet it's neither the sugarcoated second half of the movie, nor the exaggerated ending that steals your applause. The movie owes its immense success to the quintessential directions of Danny Boyle and a rather prodigal performance by the child artists.


The movie begins under unlikely circumstances, and then spirals into fantastical and grotesque world. The police are viciously interrogating Jamal (Dev Patel) an eighteen year old who is on the verge of winning the jackpot on India's version of the TV quiz 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' and nobody believes a barely educated kid from the slums of Mumbai could ever have got this far without cheating. So he takes his skeptical inquisitor (Irrfan Khan) through each of the questions he has answered correctly, and in doing so, the film recounts the story of Jamal's life from rags to rupees millions of them, possibly.


Artfully constructed by screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, the movie operates in a triangle: the televised duel between Jamal and the patronizing quizmaster (Anil Kapoor), the police interview room, and the tragicomic episodes of a slum dog's life.Slumdog Millionaire does not lack humor.


It is fast-paced, well edited into shape and with just enough hard-nosed reality to make at least some sense of the fantasy. But then fantasy is what this is, and, despite the fierce and truthful-looking role of of Irrfan Khan as the police inspector charged with extracting the truth from Jamal, the film is ultimately lacking in a resonance that would make us think rather than simply laugh and possibly cry.


It seems entirely appropriate that it should end with a silly Bollywood dance that sends all seriousness right out of the window.

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