This is the story of a young man from the slums of Mumbai who eventually gets onto a ‘Who want to be a millionaire’ show. The film shows his journey from childhood to getting onto the programme and it shows us how and why he knows the answers to those prize winning questions.
I was very moved by the film and eventually allowed a few tears to slowly roll down my cheeks. The emotional journey was predictable and surprising at the same time. It’s such a big story told in colour and conveying a great sense of the noise, smells, chaos and energy of the location. It gives the audience a sense of the hustling, and associated risks, required to get anywhere. What I hadn’t anticipated was the way in which despite all that they have against them they are not free to be visible as they embarrass the authorities by their simple existence.
The lead characters need to figure out how to fight the system yet remain invisible and unthreatening. From the outside it seems that they need creativity, hard work and some luck to make it to adulthood. From the inside it must be a battle of hope and motivation to see through their reality and encourage the constant struggle. Without this it would be easy to be overwhelmed by their circumstances and giving up on hope.
Of course this is true all over the world and the bigger the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ the more risks people will take to get their bit of the pie. This reminds me of a famous rapper’s motto – “get rich or die trying”. I now have a better understanding of why rappers (etc.) go on about where they come from because to become successful from such a start says a lot about determination, creativity and application of self.
However our hero is not motivated by wealth or fame but love. He met his love as a young man, recognised her as that, had the courage to seek her out when they lost touch, and then do what is necessary to secure their future. He could not have done it without the help (and hindrance) of his brother. In the end he loses a brother and gains a lover.
In some ways it is a simple love story, boy meets girl, overcomes trials, they end up together and live happily ever after. But the interesting characters, location, sense of hope over adversity, the juxtaposition of kindness and cruelty, presence of neglect and nurture makes it a captivating narrative that keeps you alert to everything on screen. We in our ‘safe’ western environments need to absorb some of that ‘can do’ spirit when things are not perfect in our lives. Like many of us, the hero does not look like a stereotypical hero, but action speaks louder than words and he walks the talk to make things happen. Encouraging, uplifting, informative, entertaining and a little sad.