D. Because it was written.
In 2009, an underdog film about an underdog story won the Oscar for Best Picture. Slumdog Millionaire took the world by storm, a small Bollywood film that people fell in love with over and over again. I remember first seeing Slumdog in theaters and being completely awestruck as to how outstanding of a film it was. After watching it again this past weekend I came to realize that it is still an awe inspiring and breathtaking film to watch.
A lot of what makes Slumdog such a great film is the unique way in which it is filmed. The film opens with the main character Jamal (Dev Patel) being tortured as he has fuzzy memories of being on India’s version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. As the torture continues it becomes clear that the Police Inspector (Irrfan Khan) administering the torture as well as much of the country believes that Jamal has been cheating on the show. Eventually the torture ends and Jamal and the Police Inspector sit down to talk about Jamal’s involvement in the game show. It becomes clear that on the previous day’s show, Jamal made it all the way up to the million dollar question but ran out of time before he could answer it. The question will be answered tomorrow and before then the two of them are going to go through every single question Jamal was asked.
The two begin to analyze the game, question by question, and Jamal explains how he knew the answer to each question. With each explanation comes an extensive flashback and each flashback chronicles a different part of Jamal’s past. It begins when Jamal is young (young Jamal played by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) and living in the slums with his mother and brother Salim (young Salim played by Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail). When their mother is killed, the two are forced to fend for themselves, surviving for a while by living as stowaways on a train in one of my favorites scenes in the film. While fending for themselves they meet their third companion, their third Muskateer, Latika (the youngest Latika played by Rubina Ali).
The film then moves to when the three children are somewhat older, the middle aged Jamal, Salim and Latika played by Tanay Chheda, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala and Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar respectively. When Salim begins to work for a local gang, bringing Latika with him, Jamal is separated from them. Finding them again when they are all young adults, Jamal finds that Salim (Madhur Mittal) is still working for the same gang and Latika (Freida Pinto) is “owned” by the gang leader. Knowing that he loves Latika and that she loves him, Jamal (Dev Patel) desperately tries to help her escape. It is what eventually pushes Jamal to go on the show, in the hopes that Latika will see him, contact him and they will be able to finally be together.
There is no way to feel happy after watching this film. Not only do we watch and root for these three young people to survive on their own but we watch an epic love story unfold as they grow up. Expertly using flashbacks to jump the audience through time yet easily keep a coherent and cohesive story, this film proves what a talented director, writer and cinematographer can do when they come together. For me, it is rare to refer to a film as feel good and brilliant in the same breath but I can do that with Slumdog Millionaire. It is a charming, well done film that, in true Bollywood fashion, ends with a satisfying dance number.
Beating the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk and The Reader, Slumdog Millionare took home the Oscar for Best Picture as well as eight more. Anthony Dod Mantle won Best Achievement in Cinematography, Danny Boyle took home the Oscar for best Achievement in Directing, Simon Beaufoy won Best Writing and the film also won Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Music, Best Achievement in Song and of course Best Original Song: Jai Ho. I saw all the Oscar nominated films for this year and while Sean Penn gave an amazing performance as Harvey Milk, I still believe that Slumdog Millionare, a 9 out of 10 film for me, was the best picture of 2009.