Slumdog Millionaire (Blu-ray)
Release Date: March 31, 2009
Own it on Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay) and Vikas Swarup (novel)
Stars: Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Rajendranath Zutshi, Jeneva Talwar, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan
MPAA Rating: R
Chances are you’ve heard of Slumdog Millionaire, the film that won Best Picture and seven other Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards. However, since indie films are often tough to find in your local Cineplex (even ones as beloved and successful as Slumdog), it’s entirely possible that you haven’t actually seen the film. Luckily, Slumdog Millionaire was released today on Blu-ray and DVD, making it easier than ever to finally watch.
So what is Slumdog Millionaire actually all about? It’s the story of Jamal Malik, an uneducated 18-year-old from the slums of Mumbai, India who is one question away from winning the grand prize of 20 million rupees on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The makers of the show assume that Malik is cheating, so they turn him over to the authorities, who torture and interrogate him in an effort to uncover how he has been so successful on the game show.
Through a series of flashbacks, we discover how Jamal knew the answers to the questions – each answer coming from Jamal’s real-life experiences surviving in the slums of India. The flashbacks introduce us to Jamal’s older brother Salim and the love of Jamal’s life, Latika. Growing up, Jamal dreamed that the three street kids could be like The Three Musketeers, but fate, and his brother’s ulterior motives, keep that from becoming a reality. We also come to learn what motivated Jamal to go on Millionaire in the first place, a decision that had nothing to do with the 20 million rupee prize.
While the film goes to some very dark places, at its core it is a very sweet story about love and fate. Dev Patel’s portrayal of Jamal Malik has you rooting for the character from the very beginning of the film and Freida Pinto, who only has a few scenes in the movie, does a great job portraying the grown up version of Latika. Though she doesn’t have much screen time, she makes the most of the time she is given and has great chemistry with Patel. The kids who play the younger versions of Jamal, Salim and Latika all do a great job as well. Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, who plays Youngest Jamal, does a phenomenal job in the funniest scene in the movie, which has infamously been dubbed the “Toilet Scene.”
The music in the film is also well done. All of the songs add something to the film, especially the two tracks from M.I.A. The dance number at the end of the film, which is a tribute to Bollywood films, is also a wonderful touch (and one of the charming bonus features included with the film shows just how much Patel struggled with the choreography of the scene before he finally nailed it).
Obviously, there was a lot of buzz surrounding this film, but I can gladly say that it truly lives up to the legendary hype. Director Danny Boyle and writer Simon Beaufoy crafted a beautiful story that is both heart-wrenching and inspirational. They’ve created a lovable main character who goes on an amazing journey and set the film in a world not often seen in American cinema. On Blu-ray, you truly appreciate the beautiful locations in the film, which really pop in high definition.
The film comes with an assortment of special features, the most interesting one being Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle and the Making of Slumdog Millionaire, a behind-the-scenes featurette that originally aired on British television. While Slumdog Dreams is your typical behind-the-scenes program, it does a great job showing the love Boyle and Beaufoy have for India. It also shows the struggle Boyle had communicating with the young actors on the set, who didn’t speak English (Boyle had to rely on hand gestures and translations back and forth from co-director Loveleen Tandan).
In addition to Slumdog Dreams, the Special Features include 12 deleted scenes, two audio tracks, a music video and a behind-the-scenes look at the aforementioned “Toilet Scene.” There is also a black and white short film called Manjha, which is a much darker and more twisted look at the life of children living on the streets of Mumbai.
The film itself is definitely worth watching and the two hours’ worth of special features should give those of you interested in taking a deeper look at the film plenty to sink your teeth into. I can’t recommend buying this film highly enough. It’s definitely worth it. And if you own a Blu-ray player, go for the Blu-ray version (which includes a digital copy of the film) – you’ll appreciate the beautiful locations in the film even more.
Written by Joel Murphy. Slumdog Millionaire is available Blu-ray and DVD today.