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Review

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ earns Oscars, inspires audience

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February 26, 2009

With the awards season being over, the obvious movie that stands out from 2008 is Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire.” The film takes a classic plotline of a boy going from rags to riches, but does it in a way that is not only new, but truly inspiring. The film’s structure, cast and incredible music all add to its greatness.

The film follows the story of Jamal Malik, a lowly tea carrier who had grown up in the slums of India, as he participates in the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Being a lowly person, it is highly expected that he will lose quickly. However, the audience sees through the course of his life, he has learned the answers to all the questions by persevering through the rotten hand he was dealt.

After his first night on the show, he is arrested and interrogated to find out how he cheated, but tells the officers his life story, in an effort to prove his innocence, and also that he is not on the show to win money.

The film is presented in a non-linear fashion, jumping from one time to another very quickly throughout the film, and utilizes a great deal of editing techniques to make this work. Although the rapid progression of shots may at times seem confusing, the viewers should still be able to follow what is happening. Also, if this film were to be presented in a straight chronological order, the suspense and mystique of the film would be broken.

The cast of the film is filled mostly by people who are not big name actors in India, but they add to the effect of the film, making slum life seem completely believable. Although there are no truly outstanding performances, all of the actors together make the film come to life. Of note especially are the younger children who are featured for the first third of the movie that give realistic performances that don’t seem forced by the director.

The music of A.R. Rahman graces the aural sense of the audience throughout the film. All of the music seems to be especially made to fit for the particular scene that it resides in, something that doesn’t seem to occur as much in Hollywood films. There is also a treat for American audiences as the song “Paper Planes” by M.I.A., who has recently grown in popularity in the states, is featured during one scene. Also, the catchy “Jai Ho” that is played during the end credits, which also has a traditional Bollywood dance sequence, will be stuck in the heads of most audience members.

It is no surprise to me that this film swept the Oscars. In a time where corporate backed features dominate the screens of the populace, it is good to see an independent film get the credit it deserves.

Altogether, it is not only a well put together film, but is also inspiring and uplifting, something that is rare when it comes to winning awards and a pleasant breath of fresh air for movie lovers. It can only be hoped that Hollywood takes notice and follows suit in the years to come.

4.5 stars

Nathan Piotrowski is a digital film and television major with a film studies minor. In his spare time, he attempts to be a professional lottery winner.