Blu-ray Disc Review: Slumdog Millionaire


Slumdog Millionaire
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc review By Jerry Rutledge

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A sharply paced, modern day fairytale set in the slums of India’s mean streets, Slumdog Millionaire is a great addition to any movie fan’s collection.

The movie opens with Jamal (played as a teenager by Dev Patel) being tortured by a police inspector (Irrfan Khan).  The inspector wants Jamal, a kid from the slums, to confess he has used fraud to win on India’s version of the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionnaire.”  If the inspector is convinced Jamal is running a scam, Jamal will not be allowed to return to the show for a chance to win the grand prize and will forfeit all of his winnings.  Jamal explains how he knew the answers to the game show questions in flashbacks which show how Jamal used his wits to survive in the streets of Mumbai.

Jamal’s life story is a powerful one.  Jamal and his brother Salim (played as a teenager by Madhur Mittal) are confronted by the murder of their mother in an ethnic cleansing riot and left parentless to survive on the garbage piles at the outskirts of town.  They are “rescued” by an evil Fagan like character who seeks to exploit children as beggars, thieves or worse.   Finally, they band together in gangs for self-protection and are exposed to the criminal underworld.  The film’s cinematography expertly weaves between Mumbai’s polished city buildings and its poverty stricken slums.

Jamal’s older brother Salim seeks to dominate Jamal.  He will betray him for money or for the girl Jamal loves (Latika, played as a teenager by Freida Pinto).  Salim succumbs to violence to solve his problems and eventually becomes a hired thug for a powerful gangster.  Still, he is bothered that Jamal will never forgive him for separating him from Latika.

Jamal in contrast uses his wits to persevere and succeed.  In a very clever scene he is able to escape being locked in a toilet room by Salim so that he can obtain the autograph of a famous Indian movie legend.  Later he pretends to be a tour guide at the Taj Mahal to earn a living, or educates himself while working as a tea server.

Jamal’s goal is to be reunited with his beloved Latika.  As a child, Jamal defies his brother Salim and offers Latika shelter from the rain shortly after the ethnic cleansing that killed their parents.  Latika grows into a beautiful teenager.  Salim behaves as if Latika were merely property or, at worst, a liability.

Director Danny Boyle masterfully sows together the stories of the lives of Jamal, Salim and Latika.  Will Jamal be reunited with Latika?  Will truth and hope win over cruelty and despair?

Special Features include commentary by director Peter Boyle and actor Dev Patel, commentary by producer Christian Colson and writer Simon Beaufoy;  deleted scenes (including several interesting scenes between the police inspector and Jamal left on the cutting room floor); Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle & the Making of Slumdog Millionaire (a documentary about the making of the film); SlumDog Cutdown (an extended version of the movie’s musical score set to scenes from the film); From Script to Screen: Toilet Scene (an in depth look at one of the movie’s scenes); an Indian Short Film – Manjha; Bombay Liquid Dance (additional music from the film); and theatrical trailers.

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