So, my sister Verity and I went to see the film Slumdog Millionaire at the weekend. We loved it.
For those who have not seen the film yet, I am not going to spoil it for you by talking too much about the plotline. It is enough to say that we came away with big smiles on our faces and a warm glow inside - despite it being -7C in York on Saturday evening.
What is it about these rags-to-riches, anything-is-possible stories that is so hypnotic? It’s the reason that, all around the world, we are still clamouring to watch TV series such as ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ and ‘The X Factor.’
Some reviews have pointed out that the real star of the film is the city of Mumbai itself. Yes, there is some amazing cinematography of the many layers of the city and its inhabitants. The story of Mumbai is a story of triumph over adversity; and there are several million smaller stories of personal victory inside that.
However, what I think is most interesting about the film is the ’slumdog’ himself, Jamal the ‘chai wallah,’ who finds himself, almost by accident, at the centre of the unfolding drama. It could happen to you… Oh, yes… And it could happen to you.
So who cares if the plot is a little implausible in places? There was just no room in the cinema on Saturday night for such hard-hearted cynicism.
Yes, it could be you. Or me.
The power of Jamal’s belief, his refusal to let go of his dream, sweeps you along to the final, joyous Bollywood-style climax.
Doesn’t the film’s enormous success with the public and critics alike show that dreams are not indulgent or silly? They are essential to our well-being. And right now, we need dreams more than ever.