In real life, Patel is a North London teenager. In Slumdog, Patel is Jamal Malik, a street urchin, who gets a shot at winning a million dollars on the Indian game show version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and incredibly conquerors it though he lacks a formal education. Considering that director Danny Boyle plucked Patel from obscurity and handed him the role, his performance is beautifully executed.

Slumdog is the kind of film that you want to see because of how visually stunning it is. The screenplay aside, the visuals are amazing, particularly the scenes that are shot in Mumbai. But as stunning as they are, you cannot help but feel depressed at the poverty that is captured on screen and empathise with the millions who are living in the slums of what is a really beautiful city.

Jamal is a slumdog, or a street kid, who loses his mother early and is left to grow up in the tough streets of Mumbai with an older brother. They eke out living that is so brutal, you watch it and feel as if the director, Danny Boyle has uprooted up and thrown you in the middle of the cruel streets.

But Slumdog is also uplifting. It traces Jamal’s perilous youth to his rise on a game show that someone of his class cannot realistically win, but is poised to anyway. The movie offers up a series of flashbacks as Jamal is on the hot seat answering the questions and getting everyone correct despite the odds. His answers are plucked from his past growing up on the streets, but he also uses his lifelines.

It is also a romantic story that celebrates young love as Jamal fights to win the love of the young Latika, who has also grown up on the street. The relationship never happens until the end, but it happens and you cannot help but feel the depth of it.

Rarely a good movie is shown on television these days, the majority of times you turn on and get a string of mundane films.

It happens so often that you have to build up the courage to sit down and watch a film; then about twenty minutes into it you realize it is one of those that are equivalent to wasting time. Sure enough you work up some anger but nothing major because it’s either the crappy film or those really awful reality shows, and we’re not including Extreme Makeover Home Edition, the Amazing Race and maybe Dancing with the Stars.

Slumdog is a must-see. Forget the subtitles that are a small part of it because the movie is also set in England, just see it. Something tells us Slumdog will do well this awards season and since the Golden Globes are tomorrow, we will be watching.  (thescene@stabroeknews.com)

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