Slumlord Millionaire Is a Mumbai Sonic Explosion

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Going to tonight’s movie was like driving through the FastLane on the Pike. We walked past a long line of people waiting to buy tickets, since we had bought ours ahead online. We just scanned a barcode and out popped the tickets–no waiting. The movie was a breathtaking sonic explosion called Slumdog Millionaire.

The film captured what life is like in 2009’s Mumbai with a crashing intensity. The trains roar by, the slums pulse with life, and a hundred sounds come at you all at once. The movie unspooled backwards, beginning with the end and explaining itself through flashback scenes. Scenes of the young urchin running through teeming neighborhoods and through fetid garbage dumps were made even more stunning by the sounds of modern Indian music and crashing ambient noises.

It is the story of a young man who won India’s Who Wants To Be a Millionaire TV gameshow, and the tangled and painful tale of how he got to the chair on the stage to play the game. We are given glimpses of so many hardships that the young tea-server has been through, and in the end it all make sense–and makes us realize how deserving he is of the cash and the girl.

The story of a lifelong love affair that refuses to be broken is poignant, and as we follow the pulsing intensity of his life as a gritty, smart street kid, we end up rooting for him, and fearing he might slip away. It becomes clear why this kid knows so many of the answers, having to fend for himself and figure it out on his own.

It was a very well-done movie and it made me want to recommend it to my friend Tom Gates, an Indianophile of the highest order who would love seeing these scenes of the slums of Mumbai and the immersion into Indian culture that this film provides.