Believe it or not, Slumdog Millionaire was at one point meant to be a straight to DVD release. If that had happened, the Academy would have had to create a new "Best Straight to DVD Movie Ever Made" category so this movie could win. Initially when I left the movie theater after watching this film, I didn't think it was as great as I do now. But last night, as I lay restless from the heart pumping Super Bowl, I had time to think about the movie more in depth. By the time morning rolled around, I came to the conclusion that Slumdog Millionaire was in fact a fantastic achievement in modern cinema. Danny Boyle, director of such films as Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine, was the man behind the camera for this film, and I'm afraid my limited vocabulary won't be enough to praise his work. What must be acknowledged first is how he captured the heart breaking every day lives of regular people who unfortunately live in delapidated slums. Living in a world where the police will neglect to intervene an attack even after they see a man on fire is just one of the injustices that must be dealt with in these areas. Not to mention the living conditions which can only be described as pits of squalor. An aerial shot of miles of tin roofs is a disheartening reminder that there are not just a few people subjected to these conditions. Boyle brings these truths to the screen in such a way that no human can turn a blind eye to these facts anymore. I would love to take some of the heartless people from my school to see this movie and try to show them what spoiled and ignorant brats they are. Slumdog Millionaire never loses credibility thanks to Boyle's magnificent directing. He effectively mixes past and present tense without turning the movie into a disjointed mess. Credit should also not be taken from writer Simon Beaufoy, whose screenplay is perfect and never hits a sour note. The collaboration between Beaufoy and Boyle makes every moment of Slumdog Millionaire one to be remembered.
But an underdog story isn't truly great until you have a good underdog to root for. It is here where Dev Patel, Ayush Khedekar, and Tanay Chheda rise to the occasion. Each actor portrays the slumdog Jamal Malik at different ages and each find a way to grab at your heart. While Patel is the oldest and is receiving most of the noteriety surrounding Slumdog Millionaire, it is Khedekar, who played the youngest Jamal, that I was most intrigued by. I am not often impressed with child actors, but Khedekar is a bright exception. He accomplishes a feat that not many professional adult actors have the ability to pull of convincingly: emotions. Khedekar displays a wide range of emotions from excitement to sadness, and love to anger. He and co-star Rubiana Ali (youngest Latika) bring more romantic chemistry to the screen than quite a few professional stars (Katherine Heigl and James Marsden in 27 Dresses, Dane Cook and Jessica Alba in Good Luck Chuck, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in all three Pirates of the Caribbean films). Patel is merely the icing on the cake, drawing the viewer in with an innocent face and a sterling performance.
As I mentioned earlier, the appeal of Slumdog Millionaire lies in it's brilliant underdog tale. It is unknown whether or not this film will be considered truly great in the future, but for now, one thing is for certain. Slumdog Millionaire is an outstanding achievement in entertainment and regardless of whether you prefer summer blockbusters over Oscar contenders, you will like this movie. If you are worried that 20% of the film is spoken in Hindi and you won't enjoy reading the subtitles, Danny Boyle has you covered. Rather than just put the words up on the screen, he masterfully finds a visually beautiful way to keep you in the loop. At a reasonably quick two hours, you won't ever feel let down by Slumdog Millionaire, I guarantee it. My rating (10/10)
P.S. - Stay during the credits for an amazing choreographed dance sequence involving every member of the cast.