07 February 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I don't think I've ever seen a movie only a couple of months after it has been released. I usually only start to think about a movie after I've seen it mentioned at the Academy Awards or some other show. But wife Carol said let's go to lunch and a movie. That sounded enough like a date to get me hooked.

Slumdog Millionaire is worth seeing. It might be worth checking out the Wikipedia entry before you see it because things move fast and furious, so it might be worthwhile having a look at the scorecard before you get into it. In fact it might be helpful to see the movie before you visit the country as well. It is an Indian (not the Native American type) Odyssey meets West Side Story, or maybe contemporary Mumbai meets old-fashioned Hollywood.

It takes place in Mumbai, actually starting when it was still called Bombay. They rescued some surprisingly cunning kids from the slums, together with some others a few years older and then finally some young attractive (but not too much so, especially the male lead) players who get their life stories told by flashbacks from questions asked on a modern Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."

Thank Heavens there were no deep or unexpected insights into the human condition, only a familiar bad guys v. good guys story well-told in unfamiliar circumstances. I liked the musical score as well. And for once the early Hindi dialogue, I suppose, with sub-titles in different positions on the screen wasn't all that irritating. The switch to English half-way through was smooth and made sense too.

Although the movie is not a traditional Indian movie, it certainly captures the feel of India during the last generation. Confusing, and meant to be so, sensory overload with the now required odd angle photography and quick cuts. Much is mythological and I suppose filled with stereotypes, but it's the kind of story that gets told well that way.

Just to make sure the viewer knows it is an Indian love story plus everything else, the credits at the end roll with a big West Side Story dance sequence at a train station between the tracks, and there is not much touching, and even the kiss at the end is interrupted at the very beginning. Go see it.

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