"slumdog millionaire": a rags-to-rupees story

amc fire alarm

a funny thing happened on the way to our local movie theater where "slumdog millionaire" was showing. my mom and i were at the concession stand redeeming our free large soda and small popcorn when the emergency lights started blinking and a beeping noise echoed throughout the building. there was a fire alarm (okay, a fire alarm shouldn't be funny). the nice guy at the concession stand got distracted by all the commotion as he was filling my soda, but he managed to advise me that we needed to evacuate the building immediately. i smiled back at him and thought, "okay, just as soon as you hand me my large drink!"

supersized diet coke in one hand, small popcorn in the other (a disproportionate tandem, actually), we calmly walked outside the movie theater and into the parking lot, then back inside the car. we wondered if someone played with the fire alarm or if it was a cigarette butt gone awry that ousted us from the building. the fire truck came and was gone in about five minutes, then the people started milling back inside the movie house. our tickets for "slumdog" were for the 4:25pm showing...we were delayed by the false fire alarm by 15 minutes. hey, not bad.

"slumdog millionaire" is a rags-to-rupees story of an indian boy named jamal malik whose life is summed up in each question he ever answered (correctly) in the indian version of the game show "who wants to be a millionaire." the movie takes us to the underbelly of the indian slums where jamal and his brother salim lived in a manner so vivid, so palpable, that you can almost smell the poopy stench that little jamal plunged into just so he can get a precious autograph of his favorite bollywood sylvester stallone-lookalike actor. these little details tend to stick to your memory and senses, like a curry in fury, and that's what this movie succeeded in doing as well as in other aspects.

the other (most important) aspect i'm referring to is the universal concept that the story preached: love. you can't go wrong with love. and when you tie it with something american that most of the whole world can relate to: a game show such as "who wants to be a millionaire," and sprinkle a little "destiny"...then one can understand why "slumdog" cleverly slam-dunked its way to the oscars and into many a movie-goer's heart--including my own!

ultimately, the movie wasn't about winning the money. it was about love...and her name was latika: a girl who completed the malik brothers' missing third "musketeer." the game show was a metaphor for life, for taking risks and making decisions. when jamal was confronted with the final, 20-million-rupee question, he honestly did not know the answer. but his final lifeline was the voice of his jackpot prize: lakita, and suddenly he didn't care about whether or not he got the final answer right. as far as he knew, his heart felt like a million bucks knowing that lakita was there for him. but he still took a chance and chose an answer, and as luck would have it, he won the 20 million rupees as well. life can't be sweeter. it was written.

the movie was very engaging. you want to root for jamal--the underdog-slumdog--to win, to catch the train, to not have his eyes scooped out, to escape with lakita to freedom. and of course, in true bollywood fashion, there's a choreographed song-and-dance number (such as in gurinder chadha's "bride and prejudice") in the end to celebrate the triumph of love. love was the final answer!

i can't help but notice the parallels between india in that movie and the philippines: the slums, the pollution, the police extortion, the street gangs and petty thieves, the beggar syndicates, the call centers...this movie could have been called "smokey mountain millionaire," with maybe edu manzano sitting in for regis philbin. but this movie is india's shining moment.

the scenes featuring india's rural trains make me want to board an amtrak and go on a scenic train adventure.

oscar notes:
  • when director danny boyle accepted his award for best director, he jumped up and down the podium, "summoning the spirit of tigger." what a kindred spirit!
  • when a.r. rahman received his second oscar for his music for "slumdog," he mentioned that he "had a choice between love and hate," and he "chose love," then walked quietly away from the stage.
"jai ho!" ♥

[movie still from imdb.com]

10 vandalized my wall:

Sidney said...

Hehehehe..."smokey mountain millionaire".... ;-)

eastcoastlife said...

It's the talk of town now! I have yet to watch it.

You are my first commenter for my recent post. Congrats. :)

Princess Ody said...

i looooved the movie, too! i want to watch it again. and it's true, the indian slums are very similar to the philippine slums.

fortuitous faery said...

sidney: it's very possible, right? haha.

ECL: thanks!

ody: despite some scenes that were "shocking to the senses," the movie was endearing! :)

Anonymous said...

when I tell my favorite scene to those who haven't seen the movie, I always tell them to visualize Smokey Mountain. Then visualize the cool resorts in Palawan which are built on top of the sea with bridges as walkways. Then I ask them to replace the see with the Smokey Mountain and the beautiful hut with the cubicle...such a funny scene!

Anyway, nicely written faery. Edu Manzano, bwahahaha...orig na orig!

Anonymous said...

i thought of waiting for the dvd version, but you changed my mind. i guess it would be nice to watch a romantic movie with a happy ending at the theater for a change. after all these years, still i haven't recovered from watching the english patient and cold mountain.

fortuitous faery said...

doi: thanks! there's a lot of thought-provoking scenes that i can't really tag a favorite. i love the movie as a whole!

plaridel: some movies are meant to be seen on the big screen...so go see this movie! :)

Anonymous said...

many people watch slumdog millionaire include me interest

Anonymous said...

I think the girl's name was LATIKA. Feel good movie! Iba talaga pag pinanood mo sa dibidi... wehehe

fortuitous faery said...

gadis: good for you. :)

duskfading: thanks for the correction! haha. mas maganda sa big screen tong sineng ito.

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