Yesterday evening I went out on a "date night" with my wife (Gina the Gorgeous). Gina loves Indian movies, and we'd heard that Slumdog Millionaire had been receiving rave reviews, so we toddled off to our local cinema to see this little scamp.
First of all, I have to say that this is nothing like what I was expecting. I knew that the story was based on a young lad (Jamal Malik) who grew up on the streets (a "slumdog") getting a chance to play on the Indian equivalent of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? TV show... but that was about all I'd heard.
So, l guess I was anticipating a typical Bollywood-type offering like Bride and Prejudice (currently a mega-bargain at only $8.99 from Amazon) and Monsoon Wedding (a absolute steal at only $5.99 from Amazon).
As you may know, these films feature lots of colorful costumes and people bursting forth in song and dance at every opportunity. (As an aside, if you haven't yet seen these, I would recommend that you first watch the original Pride and Prejudice [I personally favor the 1996 version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle] and then follow it up with Bride and Prejudice).
But, as I say, Slumdog Millionaire is nothing like this. Instead, it's an extremely gritty depiction as to what it's like to be a young orphan living in a slum in India. What do I mean by gritty? Well, I don't want to give anything away. Suffice it to say that I defy anyone to come away from this film unmoved.
The overall way in which the film is put together is fantastic – the flashbacks showing how his life experiences equipped Jamal to be able to answer the questions on the show are brilliantly done – and best of all there's a happy ending, which is what I appreciate more than ever these days.
All I can say is that I STRONGLY RECOMMEND this film (but not for the young or faint of heart).
Actually, I do have something more to say, which is that my mother went to India back in 1963 when I was 6 years old (I was talking to her on the phone a little earlier today, and she's sending me some postcards that she originally sent to me from India way back in those now far-off times). Mom told me that she didn't want to hear about this film because she'd seen horrors like kids that been mutilated to make them into better beggars...
She also told me that she had written a short story based on her experiences there for a writing class of which she is a member, and she just emailed it to me and gave me permission to post it here as follows:
EACH TO HIS OWN (by Margaret Maxfield)
Vijay stretched luxuriously as he retired for the night. As he snuggled down into the bed he thought, "I cannot believe that the Gods have shown me so much favor."
Who would have thought that a massive new steel works would be built by the British in the next town and that his friend in high places would have told him that they were looking for someone to arrange for all the materials and machinery to be processed through Customs quickly when it came in to the airport? Of course, his friend had required a little something for this information, but never in his wildest dreams could Vijay have imagined the wealth this would bring him.
He smiled as he thought of his nickname amongst the people building this fine works: Mr Fixit. Yes, he was Mr Fixit all right. And he not only fixed it for the building Consortium, but he quickly found he could fix it for himself. It was not his fault that they were so stupid that they did not know the going rate for the necessary bribes. He had managed to beat down the recipients as well as inflating his expenses to the Big Boss. And that, with the very good wage they gave him for doing this work, meant that he was now very rich. When this project was finished in five years' time, he would be able to retire and live for the rest of his life in complete luxury.
As Vijay closed his eyes, he thanked Shiva for all he had done for him.
Sunita stretched luxuriously as she retired for the night. As she snuggled down into the bed she thought, "I cannot believe that the Gods have shown me so much favor."
She smiled as she thought of the changes that had come into her life since her father had taken this job with the British people. When her mother died, he was far too busy to take over the running of the house, so he had appointed her in charge of all the domestic arrangements. And it was wonderful.
She now had charge of the appointments of Bearer, Mahli, Dhobiman, and Sweepers. She was responsible for all the expenses necessary to run a home appropriate for a man of such prosperity, and the beauty was that her father was really stupid. He had no idea of the costs of everything, so she kept the Bearer on a tight rein and charged for at least twice as much as she paid out, so she now had her own bank account and it was filling up nicely.
If this was to last for the next five years, she would have enough money to leave and set up her own establishment, free from her stupid father and from any second wife that he might decide to marry.
As Sunita closed her eyes, she thanked Kali for all she had done for her.
Joginder, the Bearer, stretched luxuriously as he retired for the night. As he snuggled down into the bed he thought, "I cannot believe that the Gods have shown me so much favor."
When he had taken the job of Bearer in this wonderful house, he had no idea that he would be responsible to such a stupid girl as Sunita. He was able to go to the market each Sunday and purchase two goats, two lambs, several chickens, ducks, and so on, together with all the other food necessary for such a large household. And she was so lazy that she had no idea of the costs of anything. He now fed and housed his family for nothing and had a very large bank account into which he religiously paid all his super-charges every week. If this went on for a few years, he would have enough money to start up his own business. Perhaps he might have enough not to have to work himself, but just to employ people to run it for him.
As Joginder closed his eyes, he thanked the Gods for all they had done for him.
Ahmed, the Mahli, stretched luxuriously as he retired for the night. As he snuggled down into the bed he thought, "I cannot believe that the Gods have shown me so much favor."
He had been desperate for work when Joginder had taken him on. His master at that time was cruel and mean and he had worked all the hours of daylight for just accommodation of the poorest kind. Now he had control of this large piece of land. He had set out the formal gardens in the British style as this seemed to suit the big boss, and at the back of the house he had a massive vegetable garden.
The Gods had certainly smiled on him when they gave him a boss like Joginder. He did not know one plant from another and had no idea as to how to grow things, so Ahmed had free reign as long as he kept the kitchen supplied with vegetables, Memsahib supplied with fresh flowers every day, and the formal gardens suitably grand to impress any visitor who came to the house.
It was good that Joginder was so stupid. He didn't know the cost of anything in the garden and had no idea that the amount of vegetables and flowers grown were far too much for the household, so it had been easy to amass large amounts of money by supplying produce to people outside. Ahmed had a bank account for the first time in his life and loved to see how the balance grew when he deposited his spare money each week.
As Ahmed closed his eyes, he thanked the sun and the moon, for all they had done for him.
'No name', the sweeper, an untouchable, stretched happily as he retired for the night. As he snuggled down into his paliasse he thought, "I cannot believe that the Gods have shown me so much favor."
As he closed his eyes, he thanked his Gods that he had a bed and shelter!
2009 New Year Resolution (Goal: Walk 1000 miles at ~3 miles a day)
[A=Actual, C=Current, P=Plan-to-Date, R=Remaining, T=Total]
|Days:|| T=365, C=50, R=315|
|Miles:|| T=1000, P=150.00, A=172.10, Δ=+22.10, R=827.90|
|Note:|| I need to pick up the pace a bit...|
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up