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Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British drama film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Simon Beaufoy, and co-directed in India by Loveleen Tandan. It is an adaptation of the novel Q & A (2005) by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup. Set and filmed in India, the film tells the story of Jamal Malik, a young man from the Dharavi slums of Mumbai who appears on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Kaun Banega Crorepati in the Hindi version) and exceeds people's expectations, thereby arousing the suspicions of the game show host and of law enforcement officials. The movie combines elements of crime and adventure. After its world premiere at Telluride Film Festival and later screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival and the London Film Festival, Slumdog Millionaire had a nationwide grand release in the United Kingdom on 9 January 2009 and in the United States on 12 November 2008. It premiered in Mumbai on 22 January 2009. Slumdog Millionaire was nominated for 10 Academy Awards in 2009 and won eight, the most for any film of 2008, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
On the other hand, few of Boyle's images are as instantly tasteless yet characteristic as a young Indian boy jumping into a swamp of feces in order to secure an autograph from Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan. The boy running around covered in excrement, some of which is his own, is young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar). Moments after that presentation, Jamal and his older brother Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail) become orphaned when their mother is murdered for being a Muslim. The two boys take up with another young orphan Latika (Rubina Ali) and join up under Maman, the Fagin of this revisionist Oliver Twist. Salim saves Jamal from being blinded by Maman and the duo make off in the night, leaving Latika to fend for herself.
The Oliver similarities hit a peak when older Jamal (Tanay Hermant Chheda) and Salim (Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala) begin pickpocketing tourists at the Taj Mahal. Salim gravitates towards a popular gang leader, for whom he murders Maman, after which he banishes Jamal and takes Latika as his prize. Years later, Jamal (now played by Dev Patel) hunts down Salim (Madhur Mittal) through his job as a chai boy at a telemarketing agency. A senior trigger man for the gang he initially ran with, Salim has offered Latika (Freido Pinto) to his boss and suggests Jamal forget about her. This, of course, puts Jamal on a course to win back Latika, the love of his life.
The film gets its title from the structuring mechanism of Jamal on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, with the sleazy Prem (Indian movie icon Anil Koopar) in for Regis Philbin. The timeline plays hopscotch, bouncing from the game show to flashbacks to flash-forwards of Jamal being questioned by a police inspector (the great Irrfan Khan, criminally underused) for allegedly cheating on the show. It's a mad dash, and the energy often disguises the fact that this is a worn-thin narrative arc. Edited for momentum rather than consistency, the seductive aura of India, so beautifully captured last year in Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited and Mira Nair's The Namesake, is rendered a blur of epileptic neon and swirling, loose-limbed action in an attempt to present the slums as alien terrain.
Since when has sheer energy been reason enough for critical praise? Boyle has proven himself able at mixing his style with several genres thus far, but here, his bold color schemes and hyperactive camera finds scraps for a story, and the buzzing production drowns out Beaufoy's structurally-intriguing script. Life-affirming and brazenly romantic, this rags-to-riches tale is, for better or worse, built for comfort, and Boyle, with co-director Loveleen Tandan, keeps things moving at all times; For all its flaws, Slumdog is not, by any means, boring. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantel, who has done some excellent work with Lars Von Trier and with Boyle on 28 Days Later, at least shoots the slums of India in a buoyant rush.
Boyle's most popular works are fitted with a contrast between narrative arc and a singular musical agent. What would Trainspotting's opening motor-mouthed salvo be without Iggy Pop howling over it? Slumdog's central montage is galvanized by M.I.A.'s 'Paper Planes' and it dutifully averts a lag in action as Salim and Jamal panhandle on the train away from Maman. The scene is endemic of the film's chief defect: As the flash and burn of Boyle's imagery loses its sugar high, the limp proposition that it's covering up becomes more and more evident.
The DVD and Blu-ray version of the film include a half-hour of deleted scenes, a short film called Manhja, two making-of vignettes, commentary with Patel and Boyle, and a digital copy of the film.
He's got a lust for trivia.