From the moment SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE won its first critic award, it was written that it would follow a charmed path from the crowded streets of Mumbai to the steps of the Kodak Theatre. With its rags-to-riches story of a young Indian man (Dev Patel) from the slums of Mumbai who uses the TV game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” to find his long-lost love (Freida Pinto), the film features muscular direction by Danny Boyle and brisk editing by Chris Dickens.
Though the film left me a bit cash poor, not so with Oscar voters. The film won a suprising 7 Academy Awards (I figured 4 or 5 at the most), including Best Picture and double wins for Indian music superstar A. R. Rahman.
Most American audiences were not familiar with Rahman’s work prior to Slumdog, which may explain why critics were so quick to praise the composer’s blend of Indian instruments, rock, and electronic dance grooves. Whether or not you’re a fan of Rahman’s original score (and I’m not one of them), you’d be hard pressed to dispute Rahman’s contribution to the film’s colorful feel.
Out of the two songs that were nominated (including the opening “O Saya”), the energetic “Jai Ho” captured Oscar voters. Played out over the beautiful end credits (the film doesn’t have a main title sequence), this hard-working cast earned a well-deserved, victorious Bollywood dance number. The rest of the end credits feature snippets of the Oscar-winning score (including the beautiful love theme) as well as songs featured in the film. But it is the power Rahman’s infectious “Jai Ho” that had audiences leaving the theater on a musical high, wiping out the slight, yet masterfully told, story that preceded it.