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The story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's Kaun Banega Crorepati? (2000) (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show's questions. Each chapter of Jamal's increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show's seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really ... Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
The little movie that will wow audiences this year.
There has already been some talk coming from Telluride that this film is set to be this year's 'Juno.' It does have the same distributor and it is set for the same release period, and for anyone who hears this buzz, they will definitely not be disappointed.
During the premiere of the final cut (in the words of director Danny Boyle) at the Toronto International Film Festival, the audience gave the film an incredibly enthusiastic response, and it went on to win the People's Choice Award. Boyle, who is somewhat like a British Richard Linklater for yet again surprising the audience with such diverse subject matter, worked his magic. He transcended genres and created a truly unique and energetic picture.
Just about every aspect of this film deserves merit, and above all it belongs to Boyle, who managed to assemble such a massive achievement. The score by A.R. Rahman, with contributions from M.I.A., perfectly accompanies the action on screen. Still, it is great enough to be listened to on its own. With India as a backdrop, Boyle and his cinematographer have composed some remarkable images. The acting is roundly impressive, especially coming from the younger cast, almost all of which has never acted before.
The film begins as Jamal (Skins' Dev Patel) is under interrogation by Mumbai police for cheating on India's version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, being only one question away from winning it all. As the inspector says, even doctors and lawyers cannot come close to the 20m rupee prize, and so Jamal, having grown up on the streets of Mumbai, cannot possibly know these things. As Jamal tries to avoid further torture, he begins to explain to the police how he knew each of the answers. Flashbacks present Jamal's boyhood and explain how he got to the show.
At the centre of his journey is his brother, Salim, and a girl, Latika, who is left a homeless orphan after an attack that took Jamal's mother as well. After running from a man who exploits the trio for labour, Jamal replays the incident when Latika left his life when she was unable to catch a moving train. His uncertainty of her fate on the streets of Mumbai and his intense desire to see his first and only love again lead him to the interrogation room where the film began.
Like 'Juno,' Slumdog Millionaire is by genre a comedic drama, but it becomes much more. The film asks questions about fate, righteousness, greed, and even urban sprawl. Above all, however, it asks about love in the face of the most dire obstacles, and if it can truly prosper. Jamal's story is a tragic and unfortunate one, but as seen through his eyes, it is still beautiful. The vast colour palate of India overwhelm any negative feelings, and Jamal's hope of finding and being with Latika overwhelm despair. For Jamal, 20m rupees isn't his prize. It would be nearly impossible for there to be a better picture this year.
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