“Slumdog Millionaire”, a personal reflection

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I was looking forward to this weekend as I have planned for a while to go on my next movie marathon.

I begin my movie marathon by buying a big bucket of popcorn topped with outrageous amounts of butter and a soda (I do care about my health but as you can tell movie marathon is already a treat so I feel that one additional “buttery sin” wouldn’t make that big of a difference). I then leave the concession area and head towards my movie marathon.

I picked 2 categories: comedy and drama. The lucky winners were Bride Wars and Slumdog Millionaire. I guess if using my common sense I would pick to watch the drama first, followed by the comedy, just so I leave the movie theater happy. But, I’m originally from Poland so go figure, that “Polish” logic. Well, this time, though, finishing my marathon with a drama still left me with a lifted spirit and that inspirational feeling that makes you look at the world and your life from a different perspective.

It happened precisely over 2 hours (no kidding, not even one minute more or less) of watching Slumdog Millionaire, an extraordinary life story of a boy growing up in the slums of India and making it big by winning 20 million Rupees ($1 million) on the popular TV show How to be a millionaire.

This story is potentially not too far from reality for those from India, yet possibly so far from the life experiences people in the USA or Europe could ever imagine. That is what makes this movie so valuable in terms of an experience. This shocking truth permeates to our culture of prosperity and moves us utterly because we realize how unaware we have been of what we have.

The movie begins with 18 year old Jamal one question away from becoming a millionaire, but gets interrupted as the show breaks for the night. A moment later, accused of cheating to get that far in the show, he is being interrogated and tortured by the Indian police. Jamal, desperate to prove his innocence, refers to the past and explains how self-proclaimed uneducated, illiterate person like him happen to know answers to the questions on the show. It is truly amazing, even to the ruthless police officer along with us those watching, what this boy has gone through. It is also astonishing how all the awful happenings in life lead him to that great moment of having a chance to win $1 million. We can’t help but wonder if it was fate or sheer luck?

Not to give away the plot of the movie for those of you who are yet to watch it, Jamal’s story takes us on a journey where you could not help but wonder how easy we all have it in our lives yet we fail to appreciate all the niceties that life has to offer.

Approximately 35 million U.S. adults are likely to experience depression at some point during their lifetime because they are overwhelmed by the events in their daily lives. All the countless issues we complain about are relatively insignificant compared to what people in a third world country experience. We worry over petty things and have been accustomed to a very materialistic life. What we think is a basic need seems to be a luxury in the third world country.

I realized that there was something more I could learn from Jamal. I learned that we should not forget what it is that really is worth living for: the value of Love, Friendship, Freedom and Family. It reassured me that it is truly worth the fight and to make sure we never forget to live our lives the way we are intended to. That we need to believe in the ethics of humanity, show responsibility towards nature and life around us, have determination in pursuing our goals, positive attitude in everything we do, treasuring the little things and moments that life has to entail, have hope and the willingness to sacrifice.

I felt so liberated when I left the movie theater that night. It made me want to rethink how I want to live my life. No matter how tough life gets we should not give up hope but have the courage and a positive attitude to make the journey of life and remember to let our loved ones know how much they mean to us. And finally, to appreciate each day for how blessed we are to be in this country with freedom of Religion, Human rights, and all the great opportunities within reach.

I was very pleased to see the response of many of the Americans to this movie and their appreciation of different cultures. Watching the Golden Globes and seeing multiple awards this movie won made me truly moved and happy. This movie was also nominated for 10 Oscar’s this year.

It makes me feel like people here are stepping out of their boundaries and reaching a higher level of understanding by being open to other cultures. There is a great deal that we can learn from each other and people from other cultures which will make us appreciate our own and make us better human beings.

Focusing so much on Slumdog Millionaire I almost forgot to mention about my other movie that night, Bride Wars. It was filled with many funny or should I say comically tragic moments at times. Though seemed unrealistic like many other movies, it was heartwarming and, I have to admit, quite touching (probably only for those hopeless romantic comedy lovers like me). I would recommend it to all the comedy fanatics and everyone without overly high expectations but wanting to relax and laugh at brides to be with colorful (even close to pathological tendencies at times) personalities.

My movie marathon, even though started with comedy and finished with drama, turned out to be quite successful and a satisfying (partially from my butter with popcorn!) experience.

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