Thursday, April 2, 2009

DVD review: "Slumdog Millionaire"

"Slumdog Millionaire" was such a fresh and welcome assault on the Hollywood hegemony, with its international story featuring unknown actors rising to sweep the Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It's only fitting that the film buck prevailing trends to deliver a first-class DVD package at first bat.

Too often, high-profile movies are released with a sparse set of extras, only to see a "special" or "collector's" edition arrive a few months later with all the missing goodies. It's a cynical and shameful attempt to wring more money out of devoted cinephiles.

Not "Slumdog." Nearly everything a movie lover could want is available right out of the box.

There's not one but two audio commentary tracks. The one by screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and producer Christian Colson is interesting enough, with some insights on how they translated Vikas Swarup's novel "Q&A" into a magical, mesmerizing tale about Jamal, a poor Muslim boy who goes on the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," while reliving his harsh yet amazing childhood.

The real pleasure is in the commentary by director Danny Boyle and star Dev Patel, who share all sorts of amusing byplay and interesting tidbits. For example, the boy who plays Jamal at age seven had to wear wax put behind his ears to make them stick out like Patel's. In the original version of the screenplay, Jamal's gangster brother Salim commits suicide. And it turns out that this was the first English performance by Anil Kapoor, the huge Bollywood star who plays the smarmy game show host with sharp verbal acuity.

To the relief of many, we learn that the icky pool of human waste that Jamal jumps into was, in fact, a mix of peanut butter and chocolate that smelled heavenly.

There is also a well-explored documentary, "Slumdog Dreams," about the making of the film, a cutdown version of the film set to A.R. Rahman's lively score, and 14 deleted scenes -- including an additional question-and-answer sequence.

Movie: A
Extras: A-minus

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize some have a tactic to release DVDs without the eventual extras and then sell a souped up version later. Sounds like this is a good one AND I'm happy to learn about the chocolate and peanut butter mix! Thanks.