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Movie review
A Slumdog admirer

By Laura Power
Northern News Services
Published Friday, March 6, 2009

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Forking out money to see Slumdog Millionaire after being forced to wait until after the Oscars hurt me a little – much as it hurts that I have to wait until this weekend to see Sean Penn in Milk.

But my frustration with the theatre melted away once Jamal, Salim and Latika – the film’s main characters – commanded the audience's rapt attention.

Dev Patel and Freida Pinto play Jamal and Latika in the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. - photo courtesy of Celador Films

Set in Mumbai, the film opens with an interrogation after Jamal successfully answers a slew of questions on the Indian version of the popular game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The interrogators believe he was cheating somehow, and they go through the tape with him asking how he, a good-for-nothing slumdog, knew all the answers. The story flashes back to his childhood in the slums of Mumbai, where he and his brother, Salim, somehow manage to survive countless terrors.

The flashbacks tell the story of the brothers’ lives, along with their “third musketeer,” Latika. From their mother’s death to their days of being forced to beg by a criminal, the director skilfully outlines the pain – and the subtle joys – Jamal experiences growing up.

But it’s more than a drama; it is an adorable story of two people who fall in love as children and remain in love through years of absence and into adulthood.

As an adult, Jamal fulfills a dream of many when he becomes a millionaire via his game show prowess. But the story illustrates how through hunger, crime and pain, he always had love, and in the end, that’s all he wanted.

The main characters were played by different actors as they age, as the story spans over decades. The acting was consistent on all levels and left little to complain about. Even the harshest critic would have a time getting annoyed at the little things when things were so seamless. The film deserved all eight Oscars it won last month. But who am I to judge when I haven’t had a chance to watch the others? We’ll get our chance this weekend when, finally, Milk and The Wrestler make their way onto the screens at Capitol Theatre.

Speaking of deserving, it seems not all hands are getting what they deserve for their performances. Recent news reports have illuminated the conditions some of the movie's child actors have been living in, and it's shocking to say the least. According to one report, the actors' families, who have reportedly been promised apartments, are still living in Indian slums waiting to hear word on payment.

Of course, that's only one side of the story. The producers have been quoted as saying the parents refused to be relocated, and that they are still trying to figure out a plan to help the families.

If the producers are bright enough to win eight Oscars, shouldn't they be bright enough to come up with a solution for the people who helped them achieve the fame?