is the best film of 2008. jay has been resisting the buzz around it. the advertised premises of the movie – “a poor kid gets rich” and “it’s about love, not the money” – sound sacherine.
but danny boyle’s movie about 18-year-old jamal, a “chai-wallah” (the guy who delivers tea to office workers in mumbai), is told mostly through his flashbacks while he’s being tortured by the police. you see, jamal is a contestant on the popular indian game show “who wants to be a millionaire?” and when he starts winning, the host of the show has him hauled in for cheating. how could an uneducated kid from the slums know anything?
jay, the game show host and the police are all correct in their skepticism. this could have been a schlock-fest. but the gritty realism and danny bolye’s signature frenetic pace make this the most accurate film-portrayal of contemporary mumbai i’ve seen. you can’t imagine brutal like the life of a kid in the slums of india. scenes in this film are wrenching. but boyle has fun with us too, including a redux of the mortifying scene in the pub toilet from “trainspotting” and a toe-tapping bollywood number when the credits roll.
the film keeps telling us that it’s about destiny, but it’s really about something that’s easier to believe in — hope — something just about everyone is ready to buy into at the moment.
i haven’t seen all of the films that came out in 2008 yet, so it’s possible i’ll like something better. i can’t imagine i will. this one is not to be missed and ought to be seen on a large screen.