After being orphaned, little Jamal Malik has to rely on his wits to survive on the streets and slums of Bombay with his older brother Salim. Victims of child exploiters, they eventually escape along with a little girl, Latika, but are separated while being chased. He never forgets Latika, and after many dangerous escapades, he and Salim return to Mumbai and find her, again in the clutches of a gang. The teenage brothers fall out over her, and are separated for some years before Jamal’s quest once again leads him to her - a helpless captive in a gangster’s world, where his brother is now a sidekick. Knowing her favourite show is Who Wants to be A Millionaire, Jamal enters the tv contest, hoping she will see him and understand his love for her … and starts winning. Suspected of cheating – how could a slumdog know all the answers - he is arrested and during the harsh interrogation he explains the series of dramatic and life threatening events that – coincidentally - gave him the information.
Review by Louise Keller:
'Money and women are the reason to make the most mistakes in life,' says arrogant TV quiz show host Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor) to Dev Patel's teen Slumdog contestant Jamal Malik. Slumdog Millionaire is about both - money (lots of it) and one woman. Danny Boyle has hit the jackpot with this wonderfully uplifting rags-to-riches story that has so much of everything, I felt as though I had won 20 million rupees myself. Above all, it's a love story, but also one about lost children, the relationship between two brothers and a story of survival. Throughout, we walk on a tightrope between the joyous and the devastating, with spectacularly rewarding results.
When the film begins, we meet Patel's Jamal, sitting in the hot seat as he spits out correct answers for the TV quiz show. He is on the brink of winning a fortune. Or is he? At the same time (thanks to effective editing), we meet Jamal at the police station being interrogated and tortured. Is he a cheat? A genius? Is he lucky? Or is it written? Simon Beaufoy's clever adaptation of Vikas Swarup's novel whisks us back into Jamal's childhood, to discover - through his extraordinary and often traumatic life experiences - how he is able to come up with the right answers. The unsettling nature of these flashbacks are emphasised by jerky images of a handheld camera.
Patel is superb in the leading role as the 18 year old Jamal, whose obvious disdain for money is a contradiction in terms for the aspiring talent quest winner while Freida Pinto is alluring as Latika ('the most beautiful girl in the world') and who he considers his destiny. The youngsters who play Jamal, his brother Salim and the young Latika at two different ages are exceptional. How can we forget that moment when the three youngsters decide to become 'The Three Musketeers' as they huddle on a floor after great hardships, rain teeming down in torrents outside.
Boyle has captured the essence of the real India and we can smell the chaos in the dirty, noisy streets and colourful markets, where children scurry down narrow alleys and clothes are beaten into cleanliness on the river banks. We jump from the present to the past with great alacrity as we become involved in stories that alternate from funny to tragic, often with fatal consequences. The drama mounts as the countdown begins to the final showdown, when the stakes become higher and higher. The tension is almost unbearable. I wiped away tears of joy at the end of this unashamed crowd pleaser that has been winning audience awards everywhere and deservedly so.
Review by Andrew L. Urban
Appropriately enough, Slumdog Millioniaire is a rich and enriching film teeming with life, death, love and pain. The story of Jamal (Dev Patel) and his brother Salim (Mdhur Mittal) is one of surviving by the thinnest thread as orphans in India. Based on a novel, Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay is a standout of economical storytelling. Brilliantly directed and edited, Slumdog Millionaire reaches into our hearts and minds with its confounding juxtaposing of human tragedy and nobility of spirit.
The tender romance that blossoms gradually through the story is its heart, but there is so much of the human condition around it as the brothers defy the odds to survive.
The performances are absolutely riveting, from the little boys as the young brothers – and the young Latika – through to all the adults and of course, Dev Patel as Jamal the contestant and romantic, with Freida Pinto as the lovely Latika. Also excellent is India’s famous movie baddie, Anil Kapoor, as the host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, whose outward bonhomie hides a jealous and treacherous heart.
The film captures the essence of India in a tangible way with its combination of cinematography and music adding to the sum of its parts. Compelling and moving, bitter sweet and haunting, it’s one of the best films of the year – any year.
Email this article
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (MA)
CAST: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Mia Drake, Imran Hasnee, Faezeh Jalali, Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan, Madhur Mittal
PRODUCER: Christian Colson
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
SCRIPT: Simon Beaufoy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anthony Dod Mantle
EDITOR: Chris Dickens
MUSIC: A.R. Rahman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Digby
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 18, 2008 (special advance screenings Dec 12, 13, 14, 2008)