Let me start with this disclaimer: I loved the film Slumdog Millionare.
I’m not the only one. The indie film about a Muslim kid name Jamal Malik from the slums of Mumbai who earns his way through the popular TV show Who Wants to be Millionaire has garnered accolades from audiences and critics since it’s first showing, culminating with this week’s receipt of the prestigious Nbr (National Board Review award) which apparently, amongst those who know, is generally considered a solid prognosticator for the Oscars.
I already blogged a few days ago about Slumdog after I saw if for the first time. I’ve subsequently seen it two more times, dragging my wife and then another family member to insure that they too would see it. I’m that guy in the theater that leans over to the person sitting next to me whispering: “this scene is my favorite…check this out…wasn’t that awesome…I love this song…etc.”
But I’m blogging again now because today I had a chance to talk to Danny Boyle the film-maker behind Slumdog about not just the film, but the deeper story and context behind it and why he does what he does. Click on the link to hear the whole interview which touches on a variety of things, but most notably the idea of story-telling and how it can change the world.
Without getting all heady on you, here’s the jewel in the crown. We live in conflicted times. Economies and ecologies are crumbling. Wars are raging and Mavericks and Martyrs, sinners and saints, Jihadis and jingoists are all separated by a razor’s edge. Still, some stories rise above the noise and make a difference, contribute in a way to a planetary dialogue about who we are, where we are going, and why we believe that no matter the dire circumstance we may find ourselves in, there is always the chance that we might endure it and succeed. Danny Boyle gets this. Slumdog is a courageous film, a “rags to Raja” tale that combines the best of Hollywood and Bollywood in a way that no other film I have ever seen does. It’s a triumph in every sense of the word.
But more than that, Slumdog is part of an emerging mythology. Beyond the perfectly executed melodrama of Jamal Malik and his brother Salim is a tale that is raging all across our globe, in bustling metropolis’ just like Mumbai where today even kids from the slums can dare to dream about winning it all. Right now, we need that dream more than ever.
Listen to the interview. Watch the movie. Become a Danny Boyle fan. You’ll feel better about the world and feel better about yourself. Chances are I’ll be sitting in the theater right next to you whispering: “I told you so…”
Listen to Gotham Chopra's interview postcast with Danny Boyle