From rags to riches

Meet Jamal Malik. Orphaned in the slums of Mumbai at a very young age, Jamal, played by Dev Patel, has been through more in his early years than you have in a lifetime. Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle and Indian co- director Loveleen Tandan, is his story.We are introduced to Jamal as a contestant on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” — not an ambiguous choice, as we soon learn that money has been a main cause of his suffering since birth. However, to the surprise of his money-hungry peers, who reflect their constantly developing society strewn with numerous socio-economic afflictions, it is love, not cash, that the young man is interested in.Jamal at his most mature is tall and thin, with a long, indistinct face. He has been through what countless impoverished boys and girls his age have in his city and he might even seem boring at first glance. It’s his heart and humanity that make him unforgettable. Directors Boyle and Tandan tour us through the bustling streets of Mumbai, making great use of small spaces, using various skewed angular shots, while adding a splash of watercolors to the overcrowded mise-en-sc??ne. Unlike other directors who voyage through the same unstable foray, we never get lost. Instead, we become part of this foreign world, following little Jamal and brother Salim through heaps of trash, brothels and piles of excrement. This charming story, despite its campy M.I.A. soundtrack, has the potential to touch the audience with its dolefully honest insights (Jamal’s in particular) and brother bantering.The major downturn of Slumdog occurs when the focus turns to the predictable romantic narrative underlying the highlighted cultural conflicts that have come to oppress Jamal – aligning it with yet another story of sap. Actress Freida Pinto plays Jamal’s love interest, Latika, whose beauty is so mesmerizing that the notion of talent washes away at the sight of her on screen.Despite its Hollywoodized glamour, Jamal is America’s underdog of 2008, whose honorable intentions shine amidst insurmountable pressures and constant oppression.