Saturday, March 28, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire at Changwon's Lotte Cinema

Yang Suk Soon was kind enough to invite me to join her Saturday morning to see a movie with her family. So at 9:30, we headed down to Changwon's Lotte Cinema together, the busiest theater in the city.

Slumdog Millionaire proved the biggest draw for the morning, and we filed in to see the celebrated movie from India. They correctly thought I might enjoy the movie, as most of it was in English with Korean subtitles for the local audience. So we filed into the cavernous dark theater and found our assigned seats.

I knew nothing of the film and consequently had no idea what to expect. Most of the Indian films I've seen were Bollywood musicals where Saree-clad beauties performing endless, jaw-droppingly difficult 20 minute song & dance sequences with tall, dark mustachioed dudes in leather pants. Good stuff if you're into dance and musicals, but not my cup of chai. So I didn't expect much. But the movie turned out to be one of the best I'd seen in years, easily rising well above most of the drivel churned out by Hollywood on a weekly basis. Definitely a win!

The story follows a young man from the Slums of Mumbai (the slumdog) who by sheer chance and luck wins a fortune on India's version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? The police arrest him on suspicion of cheating and fraud, and promptly begin a brutal interrogation of the hapless game show contestant. They painstakingly grill him on each and every quiz question he answered in the show while he relates his life story and the smarts it gave him to win.

Through retelling the epic story of his life, he carefully explains how he knew the answers to the TV program's questions and his unusual "education" in India's slums. Through an uncanny combination of enormous luck and irony, his experiences in India's marginalized underworld gave him the answers to the questions.

I don't know how realistic or accurate a portrayal of India's disenfranchised the movie really is, but the film certainly showed one of the wildest tales I've ever seen of human triumph over adversity I'd seen in a long time. I haven't seen a movie this inspiring in years. Seriously, I don't know how this one slipped by my radar screen, but I'm grateful my new friends took me to see it. Definitely going to have to learn more about Indian cinema as well.

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