Freida Pinto is reason enough to drop everything and see the new movie, “Slumdog Millionaire.”
The Indian actress is gorgeous in her starring role as Latika, the love interest of the main character in the Danny Boyle movie that is showing on just two screens in this corner of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Take the drive because this is the smartest movie of the year, one that is sure to be among those with Oscar nominations in 2009.
The movie is brilliantly shot and has a great soundtrack, as well. Its story touches on many of the problems facing India’s orphans who face anti-Muslim terrorism and grow up in garbage dumps, as does Jamal Malik, the story's hero.
As a young man, he is arrested after being one question shy of winning the Hindi television game show version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” The authorities are suspicious because he correctly answers so many questions as someone who is lacking a formal education.
In his defense, Malik explains to the police chief how his life’s experiences ironically provided him with the answers to the questions. The story unfolds after he survives extreme police brutality in an effort to force him to confess to cheating.
As it turns out, Malik had rescued Latika after she was kidnapped into life of prostitution. During their escape, Malik’s brother shoots her keeper with a Colt revolver. As fate would have it, that gun tips off Malik to the clue he needs to answer a question on the show seeking the identity of the inventor of the revolver. Pinto then disappears into another mysterious life as a kept woman. She is a goddess. She doesn't need a strong story line to steal her scenes.
She is central, though, to this amazing and riveting story built around the traditional theme of boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy gets girl in the end. What could be a better ending for this mild-mannered hero? He dances off with a relatively unknown journalist (in real life) who, because of this gem of a movie, is now worth a million bucks as the world's newest sex symbol.