I've now seen the best 2008 movie, the one that should win big at the Oscars next week. slumdog isn't a deep-thoughts film but it brings to the world stage a visual story about the terrible poverty that exists in India today. A few years ago my sister lived in India. I didn't have the courage to visit her because in reality children do live on the street and beg for a living. Little girls do carry babies for more sympathy and I can only hope grown men don't intentionally blind children in order to gain larger sums of money. I didn't want to go to India as a tourist and seeing this film from a lush arts theatre isn't really any different, but somehow the experience left me hopeful.
slumdog is about three kids, the three musketeers; one is older and wiser, one honest, and the third dependent. A strong sense of commitment hold them together: Salim to his brother and Jamal to Latika. The story has an Oliver Twist theme with street children and gang leaders, and a rags-to-riches ending that gives the illusion that misfortunate orphans can actually better their position in India. I like to think Mumbai is in a Dickens-age industrial period that will lead toward a time when little kids have better resources available to them.
You can find a well-written review here, taken from NPR's Web site. You can read about how two of the younger actors actually live in the Mumbai slums here and here. And you can read an article about how slum dwellers resent the movie's title here.
Take the Red Line to Friendship Heights and walk 15 minutes over to the Avalon Theatre on Connecticut Ave. It's a movie worth seeing.