Slumdog Millionaire is a movie released late in 2008. It was directed by Danny Boyle (of Trainspotting, The Beach, 28 days later and Sunshine fame). It is set in Mumbai, and tells the story of Jamal Malik, a young man who chances his way onto the Indian version of Who wants to be a millionaire – or ‘Whowantstobeamill-in-air’, as the presenter hilariously continues to call it, after an 18-year old life as an orphan trying to get by in the Indian slums.
As alluded by the movie’s title, Jamal does quite well in the game show, much to the surprise of the presenter – but not because he is particularly clever or well-read. By using the Who wants to be a millionaire game show as a story-telling device, the story is driven forward, with the various questions – often by very tenuous links - coinciding or having an effect on the with many (often deeply tragic) events that happen to Jamal in his life. One particularly tragic story explains, for example, how he knows who is pictured on the American 100-dollar bill (Benjamin Franklin), but not on the Indian 10-rupee bill (Mahatma Ghandi).
The movie is colourful, gorgeously shot, and full of vibrancy in a style which bears some resemblance to Ying xiong (marketed as Hero in English-speaking markets).
While the ending could be argued to be somewhat predictable and a bit of a let-down, the movie as a whole is a significant piece of art, brilliantly paced, with strong multipolar scenes, swinging from the incredibly funny via the deeply tragic and genuinely moving to the faintly ridiculous. It’s a film made up of extremes, among which are elements of extreme beauty.
All in all, it’d be rude to miss it – so go on, treat yourself...