Released 2009. Director: Danny Boyle
WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE? JAMAL MALIK, 18 YEARS OLD, uneducated, a coffee boy at a call centre in Mumbai, defies all odds and gives the correct answer to every question, inching his way to the glittering cash prize. How does he do it? Is he cheating? Is it luck? Is it destiny?
The narrative construction of Slumdog Millionaire shows how Jamal learns his answers. Within this structure is a story of two brothers and a girl who comes between them. Beginning when Jamal is only an 8-year-old running around shoeless in dirt, the movie shows the changing face of Mumbai from the maze of slum dwellings to a bustling city of highrises in the space of a decade. In that transformation we meet gangsters, child-beggar syndicates and witness how impoverished children survive by all means, stealing, cheating, working, whatever it takes to feed themselves.
At the heart of this modern take on a Dickens tale is a love story, the puppy love between Jamal and Latika. Though apart, he has never forgotten her, and has always tried to find his lost love.
Without comparison, Slumdog Millionaire is the most vibrant and dynamic movie all year. Danny Boyle truly has style to burn. Such pulsating energy and rhythm even when the setting is knee-deep in crushing poverty. Boyle is also a master of the language of cinema. He seizes you with emotions building up from his skilful use of colour, music and editing. Let your heart sing, for Slumdog Millionaire is joyous and exhilarating. Call it Bollywood sensibility meets Hollywood know-how. Even the big song-and dance sequence at the end doesn’t feel out of place.
After lifting the audience on an emotional crescendo to a spectacular happy ending, there’s really no other way to end other than a party. A celebration of a new beginning as one brother finds love and wins 20 million rupees while another brother dies buried in a bathtub full of dirty money. Pop the champagne, release the balloons and rain down the confetti, Slumdog Millionaire is a feel-good movie that rises quite literally from a shit hole.