slumdog millionaire by v swarup

An eighteen-year-old boy is arrested. Because how can a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper or gone to school correctly answer all twelve questions on the television game show Who Will Win a Billion? — unless he has cheated? As the story unfolds the boy explains to his lawyer how he knew the answer to each question by telling a chapter of his amazing life.”

I hesitated to write an entry about the recent film, Slumdog Millionaire, mostly because of how much attention and overflowing recognition it has already gotten world-wide. The reviews I read online and positive comments from my friends only drove me crazier because the movie has not been released in Seoul yet. So, to alleviate my curiosity (and barely making it before closing time) I elatedly purchased the book, previously titled Q&A and finished it in one setting (over four cups of milk tea; yes, milk tea- no coffee for me). How ingenious! The book was an easy read and it kept me hooked with a string of surprises. My eyes rolled from page to page like that crazy grandmother from Requiem For A Dream. I immediately googled various Slumdog search words to visually match the images I imagined of the characters from the book. I was beaten when I noticed the main character’s name was altered toJAMAL (in the movie)!

What’s in a name (Shakespeare once said)? But the original name of the boy is Ram Mohammed Thomas, which is an insane yet humorous combination of three different religions: Hindu, Muslim, and Christianity. That name symbolizes his clash of experiences and encounters. It symbolizes his struggle of faith and beliefs. Ironically, it also symbolizes his life as a compromising entity. So yes, Shakespeare, there is a WHOLE LOT in a name. But Jamal?? Seriously?

I might sound a bit obsessive but I’m saddened that the media is reluctant to hail the author for aspiring the movie, especially after winning all those GG. Vikas Swarup. He is an Indian diplomat currently serving his term in South Africa. Although the book is fictional, it draws closer attention to the severity of poverty issues in developing countries. It scares me to know that the brutal situation of living conditions and the unethical ways that some poor people use to simply survive still exists today. I respect Swarup as a diplomat more because of how convincingly he integrates his fiction to the real world.

Ram’s best friend Salim is portrayed as Ram’s brother in the movie. This extracts the substance from the friendship that was brought together by a series of hardships. Blood is thicker than water and family struggles can be dramatic as well, but Ram and Salim hold an envious and notable innocent friendship-like the one from The Kite Runner. And I guess the movie script also elaborates the romance level of Ram’s love life… Of course I’m still anxious to watch it as soon as it is released over here, and I’m not criticizing badly about the movie. Eight out of ten times (maybe even nine out of ten) books are better than movies. And how can you squeeze in every detail and incident to merely two hours? But my point is-can you imagine how good the book is when the movie continues to get highly acclaimed??! :)

dee’s recommendation: 5/5