Friday, May 22, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

The first time I heard of Slumdog Millionaire was on the bus returning from Medgames back in January. The film had not even hit theatres across Canada yet, but some cunning medical student had brought along a pirated DVD for on-the-bus consumption. I remember watching about 10 minutes of the movie before surrendering to the blinding glare coming through the bus window and the itty-bitty subtitles which were painfully impossible to read. I could barely see, and what I could see didn't impress me all that much. So I fell asleep.

Fast forward several months, Slumdog Millionaire has stolen away with not one, not two, but eight Academy Awards. Given the film's enormous popularity, and the endorsement of friends and family, I decided to take another stab at watching it.

This time, I said to myself, I'm going to watch it properly - on a proper television with proper audio. So I ran by my local Blockbuster Video and picked up a copy, Evey in tow. Mind you, my expectations for the movie were not very high - my sister (who enjoyed the film) had characterized it as nothing spectacular and likened it to Forrest Gump set in India. After half and hour of gruesome police beatings, anti-Muslim riots, and street urchin disfigurations, I ceded to Evey's this-is-yucky discomfort and put the movie aside. I had to admit, the movie was not off to a pleasant start.

Up to this point, then, my experience with Slumdog consisted of one uninspired bus ride and one alienating date experience. All the while, the movie itself had failed to impress. Perhaps then, it is because the bar of my expectations was set so abysmally low that when I did manage to finish watching the movie, I quite liked it. Indeed, the more I ponder the film, the more I like it (quite the opposite of how time has weathered my sentiments of the Dark Knight).

Yet when I pause and consider what makes the film likable, I'm quite at a loss. It was, for all intents and purposes, not that remarkable. Sure, I did like Iffran Khan's police inspector, but none of the other characters really made an impression. Upon further reflection, I think the moment that clinched it - the moment that really left me with an enthusiastic feeling - was the credit roll. That final moment, that upbeat Bollywood dance in the train station, really made me happy. It was a silly feel-good scene and the reward for all Jamal's pain and sweat. Plus, it was entertaining to watch the stoic main character really cut loose. End on a high note. That's the key to success.

[Spoiler warning! The following video includes the ending of the movie!]

I think I should go out and buy the soundtrack.

P.S. Sadly, five minutes of fame have not elevated Slumdog's childhood stars out of poverty in the slums of India, where they continue to live helplessly. Thanks for all the Oscars, now goodbye.

1 comment:

Joyce said...

I wasn't that impressed with Slumdog Millionaire... The characters really didn't do much for me, and what the older brother did at the end seemed so forced. They were just trying too hard for a happy ending. ~_~;;;