“What's your favorite movie?” It's something everyone gets asked at some point in their lives, and I seem to get the question a lot. Any real film fan, I assume, would struggle for hours to pick just one favorite and likely give up before deciding on one, but when someone asks you for one, that's your limit. Since the moment after I first saw Slumdog Millionaire I have mentioned it as my favorite film whenever anybody asks. Granted, there are other great ones, with Schindler's List and One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest being two of my other absolute favourites, but those titles just don't seem to be a good answer when I am asked for one true favorite, nor do they resonate with me as much as Slumdog does.
The plot revolves around an Indian man, Jamal Malik (played fabulously by Dev Patel, from the upcoming movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), dreadfully poor since the beginning of his childhood. For all his life, the caste system has forbidden him from taking part in any type of interaction with higher social classes. The film opens with a scene involving our protagonist being brutally tortured. He has been accused of cheating on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Throughout the entire film, Jamal recounts the questions he was asked during the session of the game show, along with every significantly eventful occurrence in his life that led him to the correct answers. We see more than just glimpses of Jamal's lifelong struggles with his elder brother, Salim (played in adulthood by Madhur Mittal), and his love for Latika (Freida Pinto), a girl Jamal met early on in his life and the main reason he decided to play Millionaire.
I haven't seen any of director Danny Boyle's films other than Slumdog, and I don't really think I need to in order to appreciate his style, especially if he has one as distinctly unique and profound as top-notch directors such as Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, and Stanley Kubrick. If I ever do watch another one of his films, I would never expect it to be as stylistically astounding as this film. It may be a document of India's horrible caste system, and it is based on Indian author Vikas Swarup's Q&A, but Slumdog, for the most part, is a British production. Possibly the best part of the film is the end, which ironically is the only clear nod to India's cinematic culture. The film wraps up beautifully with a Bollywood-esque dance number during the credits, making the anthem to which it is set ('Jai Ho') an automatic win for Best Original Song at the 2008 Oscars. The song is in a foreign language, and it's so catchy; it feels even more magnificent when we see the dance number. Unlike Jai Ho, the rest of A.R. Rahman's soundtrack doesn't sound all that great when merely listening to it, but when seeing it in the film, the intense dubstep beats propel it powerfully in the proper direction, keeping us fully engaged.
It takes little research to discover that Slumdog is a romantic drama. Much of the film's latter half is, in fact, devoted to elaborating upon Jamal's love life, and he actually phones Latika, the woman he loves, upon choosing the 'phone a friend' option on Millionaire. (It's not much of a spoiler, as that is actually the image featured and artistically rendered on almost every promotional poster for the film, as well as on the DVD art.) It would be extremely incorrect, though, to categorise such a film as a 'chick flick'. Slumdog is just about the most reverently told romantic drama story I have ever witnessed. It's one of the very few films I wanted to go out and buy right away. Shocking, unsettling, moving, and drastically changing, this is one intensely enjoyable and thoroughly captivating film, regardless of who you are. I've only seen it twice, but I would guess that it endures many viewings.
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My favourite thing has to be my new tablet. It’s really light and quite small, so I take it with me everywhere. I’m always writing messages to friends and it’s big enough to do college work on it too. It takes really good photos, and I play games and listen to music on it as well, of course. I often download films onto it and watch them in bed. My mum says I’m addicted, because I’m always on it. I even read things on it at breakfast time. I’m not allowed to at dinner time, though. I have to be polite and talk to people then.“Welcome back to real life," my mum says.
My favourite thing? Does my cat count as a thing? She’s not really a thing, but anyway. She’s a really beautiful little cat. I’ve had her since she was four months old. You know how some cats are really independent and hardly talk to you? I know cats don’t really talk, but you know what I mean. Well, she’s not like that at all. She’s really affectionate and comes up to me as soon as I get home, purring away like mad. She makes a lot of noise for a tiny thing. She loves being stroked and comes and curls up next to me when I’m on the sofa. She’s great company.
My new scooter! It’s quite small, but fun, and just what I needed for getting around the city. I used to have quite a long walk to the metro, then a longish walk at the other end to get to college. But now I can just whiz there on my scooter. And there’s no problem parking, there’s always space for it. You have to be careful with the cars and lorries – they don’t always see you – and when it rains the surface of the road is terrible, it gets really slippery. But in general it’s perfect for me, and I can fit a friend on the back too – I’ve got an extra helmet for a friend. It’s great. Riding along makes me feel so free.
This might sound a bit old-fashioned, but my sewing machine is my favourite thing. I’m studying fashion and love making things, as well as designing them. I also love clothes myself and often buy second-hand clothes – everyone loves the “vintage” look at the moment – and then I adapt them to my size. It’s much easier using a machine to do that than doing it by hand. I do alterations for my mum and my sister too. If I don’t make it as a designer, I suppose I can always set up my own alterations and customising business. Customising clothes, by taking things off and adding things on, is actually very creative, so I wouldn’t mind that.
My set of Japanese knives. That sounds a bit sinister, doesn’t it, but I’m not a murderer or anything. They’re chef’s knives and the best ones come from Japan. Cooking is my new hobby. I got into it when I started watching Masterchef on TV. Then I went to an evening class for beginners, and I haven’t looked back since. I try and have a dinner for between four and eight friends every two or three weeks. That gives me something to work towards and I always do new dishes so they can try them out and give me feedback. It’s quite an expensive hobby if you use good ingredients, but now my friends help towards the cost. They still get a good meal for a very low price.