Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I guess we'd all like to win at Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, no matter what the cost.

Well, maybe not at the cost that it looks like Jamal may be about to.

He knows so many of the correct answers, he claims, because they have all been indelibly burnt onto his psyche at key traumatic moments throughout his life.

For example, his very first question turns out to be regarding a nationally famous celebrity who Jamal actually got to meet as a kid. Imagine that - one billion people in India, and Jamal had met him. The second one is about the Hindu god Rama, prompting a flashback of his mother's assumed death during the Bombay Riots of the early '90s, at which he glimpsed someone dressed in this identity. Whose face is on the American $100 bill? Lucky Jamal had just such a conversation when, in a ninemillion-to-one chance (slightly easier odds I concede), he had bumped into an old friend who had been deliberately blinded by a crime lord, and in so doing had enabled him to escape a similar fate. Well, you would remember a conversation like that.

This is how Jamal claims to know these answers anyway. That his life appears to have taught him these exact facts in such painfully unforgettable circumstances is a coincidence that I can agree with the police officer is "bizarrely plausable." But in more or less the same order?

No. He's almost certainly inventing the whole thing. I'm sorry, but all those noughts are becoming too compelling for me.

That aside, this life story that Jamal is making up is also compelling, and is surely the stuff of Hollywood mov… oh. Even the villains are such shallow baddies that one is unlikely to leave this film feeling as though one has learnt much about real villains. Even the callcentre is in India, where people in England seem to think all callcentres are based. This movie certainly plays to its non-Indian market. I'm calling that one of its strengths then.

As such, what modern Hollywood also brings to the party is a jumbled narrative, a fuzzy picture, and camerawork which, sorry to say, is a non-stop unmitigated disaster throughout. Yet as I say, the acting and story overcome this, helped admirably by the use of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?'s melodramatic music as just that. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy… oh you know the rest.

All this and a bizarre shot in the middle of their being asked to stop filming? What? I rewound that moment (it's the only one I did), and I'm afraid I still didn't get it.

Slumdog Millionaire is a timepasser. The camerawork makes it difficult to connect with the characters or what's (been) happening to them, and it's no fun whatsoever (unlike the similarly educational Africa United). However like the character, I think I learnt a few things here that I'm unlikely to forget either.

Especially how much extra money beggars can make if they are blind.

Now that definitely is too high a price to pay.

(available much more cheaply here)

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