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Slumdog Millionaire Movie poster

A 2008 movie directed by Danny Boyle

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Outsourced Dickens

  • Feb 12, 2009
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The camera pans the white monoliths baking in the glaring Indian sun as Jamal's street smart brother Salim waves his hand towards the burgeoning panorama of construction concrete and dust and in a manner of introduction (he has not seen his sibling for years) explains that the site of this savvy new business park in Mumbai's boomtown of finance and commerce once contained the unbelievable (from a Western stance) dichotomy of vibrant patchwork color and dingy garbage-fill filth that like a Bizarro-World sunburnt vision of Legoland constructs the mire mosaic slum in which the Brothers Malik were born.

In director Danny Boyle's 2008 film "Slumdog Millionaire" one gets the impression that as the apprehensive Jamal, the child-to-teenage protagonist, struggles to emerge as a viable force with which to be reckoned in his own right--he consistently overcomes one trial of urban treachery after another as all the mythic heroes from Hercules, Jason and Krishna do, literally rising from a sludge of excrement in a moment of quasi-lightness as he imperturbably pursues a coveted autograph from a Bollywood actor helicoptered into the capital amidst a scattershot of plastic and cardboard garbage fluttering as innocuously as autumn leaves--so does modern day India strive to reinvent itself, wishing to shed its reputation of over population and poverty with the apparent ease of a bulldozer flattening acres of slum dwellings to reveal a real-time optical illusion of power and prosperity shimmering with the promise of world-class commercial status after the dust settles.

Whether or not Boyle had this analogy in mind, "Slumdog Millionaire" fascinates with its vivid depiction of a transitional India in a twist on the typical rag-to-riches storyline where grossly-over-populated-slum boy makes good and, of course, gets the girl of his dreams. Jamal, a chai-wallah (tea maestro) for a large telecommunications firm inadvertently finds himself on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" complete with smarmy jokes and a slick Bollywood version of Regis Philbin. Unlucky Slumdog, with just one question to go to win 20 million rupees, is arrested for cheating and spends most of the film's running time in the police station explaining through life-lesson rather than lifeline vignettes just how he knows the answers to questions that have stumped far more educated contestants. Through the devise of flashback, the audience cringes as Jamal and his older brother Salim played initially by younger child actors, watch their mother murdered by a marauding group of Muslim-hating crazies and as orphans fend in a horrific stomach-churning world of harsh endurance that seems more hellish than anything Dante could imagine. Somehow they survive some downright disturbing almost vomit-inducing entrapments escaping from personifications of evil that Dickens would have loved to make you hate. On average Boyle dishes up an extra huge serving of fraternal devotion with zings as tangy as an expertly concocted chutney as the brothers and Jamal's love interest, Latika, barrel through the underbelly of their country undergoing two other actor reincarnations before the final denouement revolving around the television game show studio hot seat.

Bottom Line? "Slumdog Millionaire" gruesomely depicts an India that few would want to visit. Set in Mumbai's Dharavi slum, the otherwise could-be predictability of the boy-meets-girl, boy-conquers-adversity formula escapist fare takes on the additional nuance of the travelogue, introducing the viewer beyond the Pillars of Hercules to an unfamiliar world where dragons lie and commerce wants to reign. No one need `ask the audience' for the final answer on this flick--it surely entertains on a variety of levels despite its predictability and almost ruthless exploitation of the viewer's emotions. Recommended especially for young adults.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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More Slumdog Millionaire reviews
review by . April 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
There is an underlying sweetness to Slumdog Millionaire which is belied by its overt brutality. This movie is a nasty, gritty and very realistic depiction of the slums, but in the end it proves to be an uplifting, heartwarming, and inspirational fairy tale and love story in the vein of Walt Disney. The very hard life which Jamal, the main character and hero of Slumdog Millionaire, reveals before our eyes makes us root for him harder than most other protagonists over the last decade. Jamal is a very …
Quick Tip by . October 01, 2010
I read the advertisements and couldn't imagine why I'd like it, but it really does pull you in.
Quick Tip by . September 25, 2010
Excellent storytelling from a great director, fantastic cast and superb narrative
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie was phenomenal on every possible level. Breathtaking cinematography, heart wrenching human interest, engaging characters, unpredictable plot, sincere romance, original dialogue, and super super tense moments. I wish I could see a movie this good every time we go to the theater!!! If only ; )
review by . May 18, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
"…If you look hard enough, Life can give you all the answers." This is one phrase I've always been told and director Danny Boyle's adaptation of the novel by Vikas Swarup tells a very whimsical tale. The film has won several Academy film awards, most probably because of its portrayal of humanity. The film is a rousing crowd-pleaser, it is an excellent tale of life, love and delightful destiny. Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is a young man on the verge of winning a significant large fortune …
review by . November 16, 2009
   I enjoyed this film but I did not feel it was as great as all the hype it has received.  The director uses flashbacks in a confusing manner starting with an adult Jamal being tortured in a Mumbai police station.  We are then treated to all kinds of flashbacks with an adult Jamal playing the India version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and a very poor kid Jamal being abused by his bully brother Salim.  Salim locks Jamal in an outhouse when the local celebrity comes to …
review by . March 03, 2010
Slumdog Misogynist
This story is so well crafted that the viewer suspends their reason and disbelief, and by the end of the movie we all overlook the simple but persistant message of the film... women are stupid.        Having an almost entirely male cast (one of the two female characters is quickly bludgeoned to death in the beginning of the film,) the focus intensifies on the singular female character.  The writers and directors would have us believe that as a "helpless" little …
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
awesome movie..i love watching this movie over and over again
Quick Tip by . June 07, 2010
UNBELIEVABLE. What an incredible movie. Really moving, eye-opening, and overall entertaining. Can't wait to read the book as well.
review by . February 25, 2009
I know it's been said a million times already and I hate to sound cliché, but it's a statement that rings true every time you say it. Who would have thought Danny Boyle, a man from Manchester could have created such an award winning phenomenon. Slumdog Millionaire is a film I tried to keep away from as long as possible as I didn't want to seem like a person who jumps on the bandwagon. I guess it was inevitable that I was to see it eventually and tonight was the night. It has remained in my memory …
About the reviewer
Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #166
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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About this movie


Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British drama film directed by Danny Boyle, with co-director Loveleen Tandan, and written by Simon Beaufoy. It is an adaptation of the Boeke Prize winning and Commonwealth Writers' Prize nominated novel Q and A by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup.

An eighteen-year-old from the slums of Mumbai finds himself competing on the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," where the questions he must answer offer a look back at his earlier life. The show's host, however, insists that he must be cheating and takes steps to force young Jamal to admit that a boy from such an impoverished background could not possibly possess the knowledge necessary to win the show's top prize.

2008 Oscar Nominations
  1. Achievement in Cinematography
  2. Achievement in Directing
  3. Achievement in Film Editing
  4. Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
  5. Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song, "Jai Ho")
  6. Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song, " O Saya")
  7. Best Motion Picture of the Year
  8. Achievement in Sound Editing
  9. Achievement in Sound Mixing
  10. Adapted Screenplay
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Movies, Foreign Films, Foreign Movies, Reel Overseas, Bollywood, Indian Films, Oscar Winner, 2008 Oscar Winner, 2008 Best Picture Oscar Winner, Best Picture Oscar Winner, 2008 Oscar Nominee, 2008 Best Picture Oscar Nominee


Release Date: November 2008 (US)
Runtime: 120 Min

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