Slumdog Millionaire is an adaptation of the Boeke Prize-winning and Commonwealth Writers' Prize-nominated novel Q and A (2005) by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup. Billed as the “feel-good movie” of the year, it has clean-sweeped the awards at this year's Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs.
Full of exciting twists and turns, Slumdog Millionaire is the story of love and betrayal, survival and destiny.
It opens with 18 year old call centre worker, Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) being tortured and interrogated about how he unwittingly made his way to the final question on India’s hit TV show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? As an uneducated orphan from the slums of Mumbai, both the show’s highly entertaining but jealous host (Anil Kapoor) and the Inspector of Police (Irrfan Kahn) do not believe Jamal has the knowledge or intelligence to answer the questions correctly without cheating.
Even the cinema audience questions Jamal’s innocence but, as he explains how he came to know the correct answers of the contest’s questions one by one, we are taken on a rollercoaster journey that is Jamal’s astonishing life story.
As a boy growing up in the slums of Mumbai, India, Jamal and his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) find themselves orphaned and left to fend for themselves when their mother is killed by a religious uprising between Hindus and Muslims. On the same day his mother is killed, Jamal meets Latika (Frieda Pinto), a girl orphan who he takes under his wing and forms a strong bond which will never be broken, despite the challenges that fall upon them.
Jamal, Salim and Latika find themselves living and working in the trash heaps where they fall into the evil clutches of Maman (Ankur Vikal) who they first believe will save them from their hardships but soon come to realise has other plans to use them to beg on the streets.
As Salim is groomed to become one of Maman’s right hand men, Jamal and Latika fall in love, with Jamal telling Latika it is their destiny to be together. However, during one terrifying evening, Salim realises his brother Jamal is in great danger and when asked to bring Jamal to Maman, Salim quickly instigates an unplanned escape, saving the life of his brother Jamal but spitefully leaving Latika to be recaptured by Maman and his mean crew.
This is not the first time we see Salim betray his brother or Jamal fight to find and be reunited with his true love Latika.
As the years pass, Jamal and Salim make their living selling goods on trains, acting as unauthorised tour guides at the Taj Mahal and pick pocketing. Filmed against the beautiful backdrop of rural India and to the upbeat sounds of Grammy nominee M.I.A’s Paper Planes, these scenes are in contrast to some of the more darker moments in the film and offer light relief.
As the boys grow older, Jamal never forgets his childhood sweetheart and eventually makes plans with Salim to travel back to Mumbai to find her. They eventually track her down working as a young dancer in a brothel. As they attempt to rescue her, Maman appears and in a nerve-wracking scene, Salim murders Maman with a gun hidden in his pocket. He then betrays Jamal again, threatening his life and stealing Latika away. It is several years before the three of them meet once more in a chance encounter culminating from Jamal’s work at a Mumbai call centre and the reason for him appearing on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is revealed.
Having heard Jamal’s story and believing his innocence, the last instalment of the film brings us up to date with the Police Inspector releasing Jamal to answer the final question on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and Salim and Latika trapped in a world of gangsters, violence and terror.
The ending to this tale is truly gripping, with Jamal choosing to “phone a friend” to help him answer the final question. The audience learns whether Jamal will win 20 million Rupees, and how he and Latika finally come to realise their true destiny together. Salim’s fate is also sealed.
The Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack was composed by Acadamy Award winning A.R Rahman and is a major part of the film. It mixes both old India and new India sounds.
Initially being turned away for funding in America and eventually securing capital from the UK film industry, Slumdog Millionaire is a rags-to-riches tale in itself. It has gone on to win many awards at the Golden Globes, BAFTA’s and The 2009 Academy Awards including the prestigious Best Film and Best Director. If you are a fan of Director, Danny Boyle’s other film masterpieces, Trainspotting and The Beach, you will enjoy Slumdog Millionaire. This film will have you on the edge of your seat up until the final credits roll.