It gives me great pleasure to write review one of the most well made movies of this decade. The important thing to be kept in mind is that not all stories have to have a moral; not all stories have to have a comic element to be classified as entertaining; not all stories have to have a great star cast and that there can be movies that serve to one’s entertainment. There are very few movies that do not have a very mesmerizing or thunderous plot and yet gain appreciation simply because the things depicted are closest to reality and are in keeping with what the movie or the story necessarily needs to incorporate.
Slumdog Millionaire is one such movie. Never before has the slum life been depicted in such true and heart rending colors. The strength of the movie is its deadpan sense of realism. I do not think that it would be too loose a remark to say that the movie operates on the lines of the genre of Magic Realism in literature, the genre made famous by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The basic plot is how far love can take one, to what extremities. The very average looking Jamal Malik is the protagonist of the movie.
Also what adds to the charisma and dynamism of the movie is its geographical setting. It is set at the heart of Mumbai slum life. The choosing of Mumbai talks a lot of what is to be expected out of the experience. I call it experience because such movies are not watched, they are experienced. It is not the Zoom TV tinsel town, here but a gambling place where it takes a minute to make or break fortunes. That is why the genre of Magic Realism seems all the more significant. Everything that happens is very ordinary.
An explanation provided for why Jamal knows all the answers. He knows them not because he studied day and night, but because he has been a man of the world. Twenty years of a vagabond’s life had taught him enough. Of course it is a matter of luck that he was asked those particular set of questions. His life had been conditioned such that he inevitably knows the answers. There is an air of predestination and pre-inscription. Even the tag line of the story reinforces it- IT IS WRITTEN. Someone is someone and someone becomes someone because it is written, so he is destined for such a life. We, by now have, witnessed in India, an epidemic of talent otherwise, but not all talent culminates into something substantial. Destiny plays a big part. This fact echoes throughout the story.
The movie is directed commendably well. The characters have delivered excellent performances. The characters chosen are those that seem very near to real life and this is the dictum of the story. The things were common enough to happen to anyone. It is just that destiny chooses Jamal Malik to be the protagonist of this fate. There might be millions of Jamals scattered throughout the fertile land of India, but there is a different story and a different destiny awaiting all of them. This destiny might be a unique one to each of them. This also relates to the fact that everybody is the hero in his own story. It is a commonplace story with little uncommon events but such events can happen to anybody because it is written.
Also what strikes my mind is that destiny has a plan for everybody and therefore, everybody is a child of destiny. The world is large enough a place to accommodate every individual’s heroism. The movie is a must watch for those who look for an enriching experience and need to watch something that is credited to be politically very correct and extremely close to reality.
I also believe that this is the true picture of the multitude of teeming millions, how they reach the dead end of beggary and how their fate then becomes a cal de sac. India cannot be sufficiently portrayed by showing just beggary without alluding to the how and why of it. This is the real beauty of the story. Although it is all pre-destined, yet the audience knows why things happen and is not left yearning for the never answerable questions.