Written by Ken Spivey
“Slumdog Millionaire” grabs you by the lapel and forces you to watch the triumphant resilience of three orphans who thrive amid unbelievable poverty and cruelty which still exists among the lower classes in rapidly industrializing India. “Slumdog Millionaire’s” opening sequences employs both English and Hindustani, with English subtitles. The use of subtitles helps to draw the viewer into his this alien world. Slowly, the movie shifts entirely to English. The story is told through flashbacks by a young Indian man, Jamal Malik . An incredibly unlikely winning contestant on India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” Jamal is tortured by the police, who suspect that this mere “slumdog” is cheating.
After each round of questioning, Patel tells the chief interrogator of the traumatic events of his amazing life which formed his character and equipped him with the correct answers. With his brother at his side, the two mischievous boys are orphaned by a senseless act of religious sectarian violence. They literally live on garbage, play on garbage, and sleep on garbage. Amid the squalor, they befriend a frail, orphaned girl. As the interrogation continues, the story unfolds around their developing complex relationship involving trust, friendship, and betrayal.
The fast paced direction conveys an atmosphere of disquiet, like watching children playing tag with cars amid heavy rush hour traffic. It is actually jarring when you realize that you are watching an extremely disturbing fairy tale romance.