“Everybody likes the underdog, because everybody feels like the underdog. No matter how successful you are, you always think, No one's being nice enough to me!”-Kate Beckinsale.
We all love to see the underdog win. Its the reason why I wanted Bangladesh to win that thrilling test match against SriLanka two days back, when they came up with an awesome fightback but eventually lost the match. Its the reason why filmmakers rehash this old formula over and over again and we cheer on shamelessly for the umpteenth time. We did it with Lagaan, Chak De India, City of God and many more. At the same time, if not handled carefully this very formula can be the filmmaker's doom. We've seen how not to use this formula in so many 3rd rate masala movies. Danny Boyle, the man who gave us the drug classic 'Trainspotting' is a guy who knows his art. He redefines the underdog formula, packs it in the attractive wrapper of 'slumdog' and delivers a powerful product which will leave you spellbinded by the end of 2 hours.
The plot minus the spoilers reads like this. Jamal Malik(Dev Patel) is one question away from winning 20 million rupees in the "who wants to be a millionaire" show. But everyone suspects he's a cheat and he ends up in the police station. There, he narrates his life story and clears the air on how he knew the answers. There is this core message underlying in the movie that inorder to succeed in anything in life, you needn't be a genius, you just need to learn the lessons from your own experiences. This may seem like reading too much into the film, but once you look under the surface you'll feel it. What attracted me most to this movie is this very own message. He answered all the questions on the show with the help of various situations in his life and also with loads of luck. The luck factor is best embodied in the scene Where Irfan Khan asks him whose face is in the hundred rupee note and he is ignorant of it. At the same time, he answered a similar question on the US dollar on the show. He says, "Its not my fault that they din't ask me whose face is on the Indian rupee".
I read so many criticisms levelled against this movie, the prominent one being it shows only the bad side of India. After watching the movie, am sure that its not a deliberate attempt, its just that the story needs that. Yes, its not deliberate bashing like the famed 'White Tiger'(about which I'll write soon). So you will see a ringside view of life in the Mumbai slums, the life amidst rotten waste, smelly shit and what not. The way the camera captures the innocent kids is just superb. Latika, Jamal's lady love played by Freida Pinto is a well etched role. Dev and Freida have done their roles full justice. Irfan Khan did good as usual in the small role that he has got in the movie. Anil Kapoor din't impress me much. All the kids played their parts to perfection.
Now, I've to speak about the star of the show-our very own music maestro A.R.Rahman. If Jamal and Boyle carries the movie with visuals, the sound of the movie is carried by Rahman. The soundtrack blasts off from the title with the beaty 'O Saya'. Rahman's high pitched vocals and MIA's popish singing give this track a different feel. The impact of almost every scene is magnified by the larger than life score going along in the bankground. My favourites of the BGM tracks were 'Latika's theme' and the high speed sitar blast titled 'Mausam and Escape'. There's 'Ringa Ringa', the raunchy rework of 'Choli Ke Peeche kya hai', which is many times better than the old song. 'Paper planes', which accompanies Jamal and his brother's train escapades is a real fun track and MIA rocks with this one. There's an innocent quality to this track. 'Jai Ho' which accompanies the end title could've been picturised better. The choreography looks straight out of an 80's bollywood movie. Was that deliberate? I dont know. With the soundtrack of 'Slumdog Millionaire', Rahman has well and truly arrived in Hollywood. Though its certainly not his best, it will go a long way in making him a part of mainstream world music. At last count, the number of awards Rahman won for this stands at 5 with many more nominations awaiting final results. The awards that he won till now are LA Film critics award,Newyork film critics online award, IPA Satellite award, Black Reel award and San Diego Film critics soceity award. The Golden Globe and couple of other nominations are awaiting results. Hope he wins an oscar too. Its unbelievable that he finished this soundtrack in 2 weeks.
PS-As with trainspotting, we have a really disgusting scene involving the toilet and a load of shit in 'slumdog Millionaire. Seems like Danny Boyle is obsessed with this. Strange obsessions indeed.
PPS-Belated Happy new year to all.
your crusader Praveen