“Hey look! It’s an Academy Award Best Picture on my list. You dont see a whole lotta those. Actually, I think we’ve only encountered one before (and there’s another 2 coming). I dont often enjoy the same films as the Academy, but this is one that I was just completely blown away by. It was also one of the Academy Awards I was most excited about because this film was leading the pack and I fully supported it. I cheered for every award it won, and not just because it meant I got another one right for my bragging rights Oscar pool.
When the movie was first released, it generated a lot of buzz. But really, all I needed was the one line summary: Kid is one question away from winning India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. How did he do it?. I really had no clue if he was a genius kid, or a cheater, or what, but I was so intrigued. I love movies that revolve around games (non-sports games at least).
Needless to say, I was absolutely enthralled by the film. I love how the built in suspense of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was used in the film. When he gave his final “”final answer”” I remember sitting on the edge of my seat, hand up to my mouth, heart pounding my throat.
I read the book a few weeks later. The bare bones plot is the same, but so much of it was different. Definitely one of the most Hollywood-ized adaptations, but one of the most successfully done. Yes, it hit on so many cliches, but cliches exist for a reason. They work if dont right, like with Slumdog. Some comparisons to illustrate:
-In the movie, the backstory is magically chronological with the order of questions. They’re more random in the book.
-In the book, if I remember right, Latika doesnt actually exist, but there are a couple of girls in his life. One of whom he finds a couple times.
-The book is a lot darker
-The book has a made up game show, whereas the movie uses the iconic Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
-The questions and backstory are pretty much all different, but some of them have the same general theme. On subsequent viewings of the film, the questions/backstory line up actually bothered me because they weren’t very clear. (ie, the sequence in the orphanage never gives the poet for the song). They’re much more explicit in the book.
The film also made me fall in love with Indian culture. I’ve never been one who wanted to travel the world, but I would’ve hopped a plane to India the next day if I had the opportunity. Even with all the underbelly it showed, there is such beauty in the movie.
There’s so many little elements I love too. This one sounds stupid, but I love the way the subtitles are displayed: with colored backgrounds on various parts of the screen. It adds some playful movie magic. The music is fantastic, both the original work by A. R. Rahman and the songs from M.I.A. The cast of unknowns was great. Dev Patel’s charm is an arrow right thru my heart.
Oh we’re right at the end now, where she’s running for hte phone. My heart is still pounding as much as it was that first time.
Which now brings us to the final part of the movie, which, as a dancer and choreographer, is obviously my favorite part, the gratuitous Bollywood dance number, Jai Ho. Its inclusion is so cheesey, but you’re so swept up in the rest of the film that you dont notice. This dance also made me wanna go and take a bangra class. I did steal a few moves from it when I choroegraphed Bat Boy for the MIT Musical Theatre Guild. I think I’ve talked about this, but in case I haven’t, my concept for the opening number was as much blatant choreo theft as possible to kinda set alot of the tongue-in-cheek comedic tone of the show. So in between combos from “”Single Ladies”” “”Backstreet’s Back”” “”Thriller”” and “”Bye Bye Bye”” were a few Jai Ho moves. When the show was over, one of my cast members actually came and hugged me and thanked me for including the Jai Ho combo.
And with that, it’s time to go get dinner”