Slumdog Millionaire is loosely based on the fictional novel “Q and A” by Indian writer Vikas Swarup, which tracks the life of Jamal Malik, an impoverished child living in Mumbai’s sprawling slums. After losing his mother, Jamal (played as a teen by Dev Patel) and his brother Salim (played as a teen by Madhur Mittal) must do whatever necessary to survive. Jamal’s travels are filled with memorable encounters, good and bad, but along the way he meets another orphan child, Latika (played as a teen by Freida Pinto). When Jamal and Latika become separated, he becomes romantically determined to reunite with Latikaâ€¦ even if it means appearing on the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Jamal begins drawing on his past experiences to answer the questions that will inevitably lead him to vast wealth and lost love. But after lasting longer than anyone ever expected, Jamal is accused of cheating and must prove to the police and the show’s producers how he knows the answers by retelling his arduous childhood in a series of flashbacks. Providing a glimpse into the tough existence of homeless children in Mumbai while juxtaposing optimism and love, director Danny Boyle’s (Trainspotting, Millions) “beautifully rendered and energetic tale celebrates resilience, the power of knowledge and the vitality of the human experience” (Claudia Puig, USA Today). Featuring heartfelt performances by a largely Indian cast, Slumdog Millionaire stars Dev Patel (Skins), Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal (Say Salaam India), Irrfan Khan (The Namesake, Haasil) and Anil Kapoor (Taal, Pukar).
It’s not hard to see why Slumdog Millionaire picked up all the awards this year. This rag to riches story will without question touch your heart and have you on the edge of your seat.
Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is an orphan from the slums of Mumbai. He’s been picked to be a contestant on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” where he might just take home 20 million rupees and have his life changed forever. After his first night on the show, he’s picked up by the police who demand to know how he’s cheating, because an orphan from the slums surely can’t know the answers to the questions being asked on the show. From there the movie embarks on a series of flashbacks where Jamal explains the life experiences he had in which he learned the answers to the questions. Jamal’s life story is heartbreaking as he recounts his mother being killed in front of him during an anti-Muslim pogrom, the local gang that he and his brother encountered which deployed children as beggars as a way of profiting, and of course the story of a young girl, Latika (Freida Pinto), who he tried to protect despite the distances that often came between them. His sole reason for going on the game show was blind hope that Latika would be watching. The final night of the game show arrives, and Jamal is left in the chair with only one question separating him from a life he’s never known.
The thing that is so great about Slumdog is the way it pulls on your heartstrings and the feeling that you are left with once the film ends. The film itself is beautifully crafted and visually vibrant. If the film isn’t enough for you though, the Blu-ray version offers a nice set of special features including the ‘Making Of,’ deleted scenes, audio commentary, music videos, a short exclusive film – Manjha, and behind-the-scenes looks.
It’s the must own and must see film of 2008.
Review by Emma Loggins