HalfPint and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire yesterday.
The fast-paced film, about a poor Muslim boy who grows up in Bombay's slums and winds up on the Indian game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, has everything - love, violence, music, dance, betrayal, and a hopeful message. It also features a fabulous score by famed Tamil composer A.R. Rahman.
The film is populated with characters who could have come straight out of Suketu Mehta's 2005 book Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found. There were gangs of white-wearing hardline Hindu thugs, Bombay gangsters, crooked police inspector-cum-torturers, and pimps whose stable consists solely of beggar children.
The plot was gripping.
I recognized the lead actor, Dev. Patel, because he's on the only TV show I watch with any regularlity - the British TV series Skins. Plus there were virtual appearances by India's most famous actor, Amitabh Bachchan - who used to host the game show (and whose blog is one of my favorites).
Among other treats, there's a scene where the gangsters dance to a song from the gangster movie Don, plus there's a big Bollywood dance production during the credits. And many scenes were set in one of my favorite places in the world - the Indian railway.
The film also dealt with issues straight out of the Bhagavad Gita, such as the notion of fate, and the fact that we are not the doer.
Near the end, the smarmy game show host (played by a spot-on Anil Kapoor) suggested that the young protagonist's apparent interest in women and money would be his downfall.
The line is straight from the teachings of the great yogi Sri Ramakrishna, who always told his devotees that "women" and "gold" (lust and greed) are the greatest obstacles to spiritual development (because they create attachment to the material world).
Go see the film.
Or at least see the trailer: