Tuesday, December 30, 2008

HOW TO MARRY A 'SLUM DOG MILLIONAIRE'




You will not know any of the actors, nor indeed the setting in Mumbai (Bombay) unless you've been paying attention to the news of late or have been to India. You will not find appealing the setting, or many of the situations that Jamal Malik, a child of the Mumbai slums finds himself in, nor will you be glad you saw human degradation at it worst (hence the R ratings). But like a diamond found in a coal mine in the midst of mere lumps of coal, this movie is a gem in many ways, and a brave and brilliant testimony to the resillience of the human spirit. And if you like suspense, and also surprisingly happy or bittersweet endings, this is the movie for you.

Danny Boyle, a British director has teamed up with a group of actors whose sphere is Bollywood, the Indian equivalent to Hollywood, and the result is compelling story telling for a full two hours. Perhaps most impressive in this movie is the juxtaposition of Jamal's life story with the questions asked him when he manages to get himself on the Indian version of the Millionaire TV show. As the last line of the movie shows, the theme is 'it is written', that is that there is a karma, a fate, a destiny that is guiding the action in this story and its outcome, and in this respect one can find this film quite similar to Benjamin Button. And like in the case of Benjamin Button we are dealing with a person in Jamal Malik who is an engenue, an innocent caught up in a maelstrom not of his own making. Unlike his brother who chooses to go over to 'the dark side of the force' Jamal maintains his innocence, and his quest to find a girl he grew up, Latika, a girl he loves unconditionally. In desperation, having been separated from her several times, he chooses to go onto the Millionaire show in hopes she will see him and find him.

In some respects this story will be reminiscent of many of the Rudyard Kipling stories coming from and set in India, and it is a true rags to riches tale ('Rikki Tiki Tavi' comes to mind in some ways) It's just that there are a lot more rags in India to overcome especially if one is born a slumdog, and indeed Kipling's poem 'If' would be apt in this movie as well. There is a winsome quality to the story of children overcoming adult evil including adults who prey on children.

I have little doubt this film will get serious consideration for best picture of the year, and it may well be the first film, not merely made in India, but really starring Indian actors and Indian production that registers with Americans, though we have seen Ghandi and other such western uses of India as a setting for a film previously. Though this film is about children and young adults, I only recommend it for adults because of its graphic quality (no there is not a lot of violence and no explicit sex in the film). But it is a film well worth seeing, carefully constructed, and as the closing line of the film says --the outcome falls into the category of 'it is written'.

7 comments:

phil said...

Dr. Witherington,

Sorry for the irrelevancy of this comment to your current post, but I have been going through N.T. Wright’s “Surprise by Hope” and am trying to learn more about this renewal of creation rather than a destruction of creation concept; and I know you have discussed previously on your blog about the 2 Peter 3:10 passage pertaining to “elements being destroyed by fire” but I searched through your blogs and could not find it. Can you briefly summarize for me what the author of 2nd Peter meant, if he did not mean a literal destruction of fire in the end? Sorry for the off topic question. God Bless!

Ben Witherington said...

See my Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians Vol. 2...

BW3

Corpus Christi Outreach Ministries said...

Must admit I haven't heard of it, but will be sure to check it out. I refused your past advice and watched 'burn after reading' had a few laughs. also rented 'iron man' actually liked it. Suprised you haven't mentioned it [?] with your convictions on military matters. Blessings, John

Jack said...

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Anna said...

I was wondering whether anyone could give some insight on the recent claim that the child actors from "slum dog" have not been aptly compensated? I've heard some shocking information that these children are still living on the streets and getting minimal assistance from the filmmakers. This seems contradictory to me, as the apparent purpose of the film was to increase awareness of children living on the streets, undergoing hardships far beyond their years.

Gautam said...

The fact that the movie SDM has kids from the slums in it, is a real deal. Nothing changes for them and their families. But awareness to it is the first step. What they go through is a daily struggle. In a country like India where a billion thrive only the fittest survive. We cannot change this world but we can live to make a difference.

afiliate programs said...

People are so surprised that slumdog won so many awards. The truth is this story goes on everyday 365 a year and also not only in Mumbai but in Brazil and many parts of South America. Places where unless you have visited you would not read about them on the net or even know kids like this existed. It is a story that was dying to be told. enuff said thumbs way up for danny boyle....
http://slumblogmillionaire.wordpress.com/