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Slumdog Millionaire: Danny Boyle captures the zeitgeist

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Released in the US in January, Slumdog Millionaire carefully crafts a flickering time sequence to tell the story of one boy’s pursuit of his destiny.  The film is shocking, horrifying, in its graphic presentation of torture, genocide, child exploitation, and rampant corruption.  Levity comes as the protagonist enters a game show to win a million dollars.

Danny Boyle’s new film solidifies his authority in capturing the subtext. The director of Trainspotting – superficially about heroin addiction in Edinburgh – disturbs audiences as easily as he enlightens them to the world according to the downtrodden.  Who would think to use torture as a backdrop to a love story?  Who would think that love can be defeated by the cruelty of governments, religious chauvanism, or slavers?

Can we not see our part in demonizing Muslims, in perpetrating torture and violence, in the income gap that leaves billions in poverty while a thousand billionaires plod their paths of destruction, oblivious to all but their precious profits? 

Hailed as a fantasy of human triumph, Slumdog Millionaire makes a more profound statement than that.  By presenting these atrocities as a daily fact of life – we see the boys running from the police for playing stickball, the gender-based denigration of humanity, the unquestioned ease of police brutality, the realities of the child-slave trade, the class-based differences in general knowledge – we are forced to return to the question of prosecuting BushCo for war crimes.

We are forced to root for the street urchin, applauding the savvy sales tricks only children can use.  We are forced to wonder at an economic system that necessitates child labor.

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Westerners will like the use of the game show, a popular TV distraction that captured millions of fans. The flickering time sequence unfolds as a mystery, building intensity to the final question.  The music is rich and often techno.

Is it just a love story?  A rag to riches story?  Hardly.  After all, Jamal is a boy who will swim thru  s h i t  for love.  

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In 2004, Rady Ananda joined the growing community of citizen journalists. Initially focused on elections, she investigated the 2004 Ohio election, organizing, training and leading several forays into counties to photograph the 2004 ballots. She officially served at three recounts, including the 2004 recount. She also organized and led the team that audited Franklin County Ohio's 2006 election, proving the number of voter signatures did not match official results. Her work appears in three books.

Her blogs also address religious, gender, sexual and racial equality, as well as environmental issues; and are sprinkled with book and film reviews on various topics. She spent most of her working life as a researcher or investigator for private lawyers, and five years as an editor.

She graduated from The Ohio State University's School of Agriculture in December 2003 with a B.S. in Natural Resources.

All material offered here is the property of Rady Ananda, copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Permission is granted to repost, with proper attribution including the original link.

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Tell the truth anyway.

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I have not yet seen Slumdog and have heard a varie... by Jan Baumgartner on Sunday, Apr 5, 2009 at 8:40:19 PM
after you see it, Jan, let's talk more. There were... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Apr 6, 2009 at 2:04:23 AM
Ive seen Slumdog Millionaire 16 times now,and can ... by brian on Tuesday, Apr 7, 2009 at 10:48:19 PM
the music was tremendous... all of it. the ending... by Rady Ananda on Tuesday, Apr 7, 2009 at 11:43:50 PM
The dance at the end : jai ho is typical Bollywood... by brian on Wednesday, Apr 8, 2009 at 7:35:35 PM
for the insights... by Rady Ananda on Wednesday, Apr 8, 2009 at 7:54:08 PM