“In Search of Lost Time”


Slumdog Millionaire in Brookline, MA

Editorial for Manifest N12

Set and filmed in India, “Slumdog Millionaire” tells the story of a young uneducated man from the Dharavi slums of Mumbai who appears on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Kaun Banega Crorepati, mentioned in the Hindi version) and exceeds people’s expectations, arousing the suspicions of the game show host and of law enforcement officials.

Slumdog Millionaire won five of the six awards it was nominated for at the Critics’ Choice Awards and all four of the awards it was nominated for at the Golden Globes, including Best Drama Film. It has also been nominated for eleven BAFTA Awards and ten Academy Awards.

So what is it about the film that makes it such a hit? “It digs into India’s gritty depths, where it juxtaposes squalor, exploitation and corruption with humanity’s fight to overcome it. Elements are predictable, but the movie never is slight, in large part due to its superb cast” says one reviewer. “A spirited underdog fable marinated in modern India’s melting pot. Danny Boyle’s still the master of spices” says another. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film four stars, stating that it is, “a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating. Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern refers to Slumdog Millionaire as, “the film world’s first globalized masterpiece.

Indeed, many story-lines are intertwined and brought to conclusion with elegance and purpose. For instance, it could be said that the film is about finding several paths to redemption. The two brothers part way when the older, finds an opportunity to exact revenge while the younger advocates compassion. From there, their moral paths diverge though their fates are intertwined. In the end they both find find the peace they had been seeking.

Ultimately, this film is a success because, it is about memory, more exactly, the relationship between emotion and memory. In the novel “In Search of Lost Time”, Marcel Proust recounts an anodyne episode, that of the madeleine.

Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922)

Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922)

“I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin.”

The central theme in Proust’s opus is memory; likewise, “Jamal” the Slumdog, knows all the answers to the questions of the game, because each is associated with a particularly emotional episode. Until recently men thought that memory was akin to recording machine, a DVD player, a cassette player, a phonograph, depending on the epoch. Now we know that memory needs an emotion to capture an event and make sure it is recallable for as long as possible. This is why, you will be able to say where you were to your grandchildren the day and time Barak Obama became the 44th president of the United States.


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