Slumdog Millionaire

by Dean Mattson

Bored and tired of the constant high winds that have been battering Ruidoso during Christmas break, I set off for El Paso yesterday to do a few errands and catch a movie.

Slumdog Millionaire , the movie I saw, is certainly an interesting film – it stands apart in its setting, topic and structure. It’s both the most real film out there right now, by showing us living conditions in one of India’s slums, and also tells the biggest fairytale.

It tells the story of Jamal who, despite being an orphan with no formal education, gets on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and is able to answer the first 13 questions. It’s assumed he’s cheating, so before he appears on his final show to answer the last questions to win his fortune, he is interrogated as to how he came up with all those correct answers. Through a series of flashbacks, we find out how he learned each answer and we also learn about his life and his close bond with the beautiful Latika.

The film was made by the noted British director Danny Boyle, and it seems to me that he was trying to mix the grittier, complex elements of a Western film with the more sweeping, melodramatic elements of an Indian one. The movie never failed to hold my interest and it used the built-in drama of the Millionaire show as the glue that holds all the different elements together.

It’s the interrogation scenes that I didn’t buy. All of that for a game show contestant? Even going to the extreme of applying military-type of torture techniques like electrocution to get the truth out of him? Couldn’t they simply check the videotape to see if anyone was giving him signals?

The movie is rated R because of language and some violent language, so I wouldn’t recommend it for children. Adults and older teenagers who are looking for a movie that gives them a glimpse into a different part of the world should check it out.