Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel, Madhur Mittal, Freida Pinto, Ayush Mahesh Khodekar
Even though I am a fan of Danny Boyle and while I am writing this review, listening to a collection of 1960’s Bollywood Music, I just didn’t know if I needed to listen to all the hype around this film. Slumdog Millionaire: Blu Ray was recently released by Twentieth Century Fox.
The film opens as Jamal (Dev Patel) is getting an intense “questioning” by police and producers of the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” They cannot understand how a young man, raised in the slums, could possible know all the answers to the questions asked and they are going to beat the truth out him. Jamal is just one question away from winning 20 million rupees and the cops are sure that he must be cheating.
It is through flashbacks that we learn how Jamal wound up on the show with so many of the answers on the tip of his tongue.
Jamal and his older brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) grew up in the slums of India. After the death of their mother, the two have nothing in the world but each other. They meet another young girl without a family, Latika. Jamal is instantly smitten with her, even though they are just children but Salim would prefer her to pester someone else. But soon, she becomes part of their family and they survive the tough streets of the slums together.
Jamal, Salim and Latika’s story, told in flashback, is told in three different stages of their lives: children, teenager and current time. And, the resilient spirit of the people of India is on display in all stages, even though times are tough and they are surrounded by devastating poverty, Jamal believes in himself, Salim and Latika, no matter what obstacle presents itself.
Enter into the picture a gangster names Maman who seems to offer them a way out of the slums, but at a price. Jamal refuses the temptation, but Salim’s choice will affect the three of them for the rest of their lives and is still resonating in Jamal’s life, even as he sits at the verge of winning 20 million rupees on a TV show many years later.
So, how did Jamal know all those answers? And, what is to become of Salim and Latika? You have to watch the film for the answers.
Does the film live up to the hype? Well, I do have to admit I did enjoy the film more than I thought I would.
In particular, the 9 actors that play the main 3 characters at different times in their lives are phenomenal. And, the plot devices that show how Jamal learns the answers to the questions that in the future are going to change his life are clever.
Even though I am not the biggest fan of “romance” movies, watching how Jamal and Latika’s lives continually intersect was done tastefully and not too saccharine.
Besides the spectacular performances by the young Indian cast, the other star of this film is the cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle (Dogville, 28 Days Later). It is vibrant, lush, and each frame is filled with the colors and textures of India.
I think the reason why people went crazy for this film is that at its heart, it is a story of hope springing eternal. And, with so many experiencing economic problems, our country still fighting a war that can’t be won and so much that is changing and unsure right now, a sweet story about a little boy that achieves so much with so little really touched people.
So, I have to say I recommend this film, if only to watch the marvelously unaffected and natural performances by the young leads and the lush and agile cinematography. And, if you love a good romance story, it’s here too.
Presented in Anamorphic widescreen, the film looks great in high definition. The colors are vibrant which is absolutely essential when you are shooting the rich color palette of India. The black levels are a bit weak and the level of detail changes a bit throughout. While not the most stunning blu ray release of all time, it is respectable.
The film is presented in 5.1 DTS HD Master audio. The dialogue is crystal clear throughout and mixed well with the lively soundtrack. The bass isn’t booming, but it wouldn’t suit this film. I noticed nice usage of the rear speakers with a pleasant mix of ambient sounds throughout.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Slumdog Millionaire: Blu Ray is presented a standard Blu Ray amaray case with understated artwork appropriate for the film presented.
Some nice bonus features await your discovery on this release. First up, a commentary Director Danny Boyle and Actor Dev Patel is offered and gives some fascinating insight in the film and the story of Jamal, Salim and Latika.
A commentary with Producer Christian Colson and Writer Simon Beaufoy is also offered. While more technical and less entertaining than the first commentary, it is definitely worth a listen.
Deleted Scenes, 12 in all, are here for your enjoyment as well as Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle and the Making of Slumdog Millionaire is a solid featurette detailing the struggles of getting the film made and shot.
Slumdog Cutdown has scenes from the movie intercut with the soundtrack. From Script to Screen: Toilet Scene shows how one of the scenes from the script made it to film.
Manjha: An Indian Short film is a brief look into the realities of growing up in the poverty stricken areas of India.
Bombay Liquid Dance is a music video and two theatrical trailers round out the bonus features offered.
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 10/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10