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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
"Slumdog" beautifully bridges life in India and Western film
It doesn't seem like a stretch to suggest that America might now be ready to embrace films in the style of India's Bollywood films. While "Slumdog Millionaire" is far from a Bollywood tragic love story filled with singing and dancing, the way director Danny Boyle will rivet audiences with his film that is authentic to Indian culture while using a distinctly Western style of film-making might be enough proof that there is a profit to be made here.
"Slumdog Millionaire" is a drama exposing the tragic effects of poverty in gigantic Indian cities like Mumbai that is also fused with a modern day Indian fairytale. Jamal Malik is a young man on India's "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" and is a question away from one million dollars when he's arrested on suspicion of cheating. Because Jamal is from the slums of India and has no educational background, it seems entirely improbable if not impossible that Jamal could make it this far, but each question is connected with distinct and sometimes painful memories for Jamal. It's as if he is destined to win, even though he only went on the show to impress a girl he has loved his whole life, Latika.
Danny Boyle ("28 Days Later," "Sunshine") takes us from memory to memory as Jamal advances question by question toward the million dollars. These memories offer vivid insight into poverty in India as well as the lives of Jamal, Latika and Jamal's older brother Salim. As children they are left parentless and taught how to swindle tourists, leading to lives of little fulfillment or even corruption. Despite being separated, Jamal and Latika are reunited several times and in fact Jamal's only motivation in life is his love for her.
While the young, unknown, Indian actors are absolutely amazing in this film, the biggest kudos go to director Boyle, who creates an astonishing film. For Boyle to go from science fiction and zombie thrillers to taking on a project as daring and unusual as "Slumdog Millionaire" proves that he's not only a brave director, but a versatile one. His great success with making this film intense, eye-opening and full of heart all at the same time prove that he's also an incredible one. "Slumdog" is just the beginning for Boyle who might be one of the most progressive and talented directors working today.
It's hard to be completely blown away by a film whose core message is about destiny and leans on the fact that Jamal is simply fated to do this well in explaining what has unfolded, but like any good film ought to, Boyle makes you a fan of the characters and not care as much about the logistics as you might normally do. The fact that this film starts out so dramatic and real makes it hard to embrace the fairytale it blossoms into, but it's the great visual storytelling along the way that makes it so enjoyable.
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