Wildly silly but entirely watchable, the film is best enjoyed when you aren’t taking it too seriously, merely submitting yourself to its roller-coaster ride of exhilarating romance and heightened drama. It is after all a film with a big beating heart, a film that feels such affection for its characters.

Indeed Slumdog Millionaire is that rare foreign film that uses the Bollywood idiom to tell a simple, even clichéd underdog story with remarkable success.

18-year-old Jamal Malik (played by Dev Patel) is an orphan who has spent his life scavenging on the streets, until he lands a spot as a contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati, where he makes a killing. The host of the show (played by a bullying, bellowing Anil Kapoor) mocks Jamal for his low-class roots, and has him arrested on suspicion of cheating – after all, how could an ordinary chai-wala know the answers to all these tough questions?

Sitting there tied up and being thrashed around by the cops, Jamal reveals how each question corresponds to a specific life lesson from his tragic past. His is a horrific tale of watching his mother being killed in front of his eyes, narrowly escaping mutilation himself, and losing his childhood friend to a prostitution ring.

In all fairness, there are few surprises in this movie – you can predict in the first ten minutes itself more or less how the entire movie will play out. What is surprising, however, is the unashamed, unabashed energy that the director devotes to his pursuit of the obvious. Into this convenient story bursting with coincidences and creative liberties — where slumkids speak in accented English and Kaun Banega Crorepati is a live television show – Danny Boyle injects his uniquely vibrant, kinetic shooting style, and delivers a visual riot of a movie.

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Slumdog Millonaire Review

January 22, 2009

Hope within squalor, humour within violence – they’re all thematic trademarks of the British director of druggie drama ‘Trainspotting’ and zombie saga ’28 Days Later’. This time, Boyle takes his wildly high-energy visual aesthetic and applies it to a story that, at its core, is rather sweet and traditionally crowd-pleasing.
Unassuming Dev Patel stars as slumdog underdog Jamal, an 18-year-old who comes from nothing but is on the verge of winning more money than anyone has ever won before on the Indian version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’. The game show’s host (ideally smarmy and egotistical Anil Kapoor) grows unshakably suspicious as Jamal prepares to face one last question for the top prize of 20 million rupees and has him hauled in for police questioning (by ever-imposing Irrfan Khan).
Simon Beaufoy’s complex script, based loosely on Vikas Swarup’s novel ‘Q&A’, glides effortlessly among Jamal’s interrogation, his unlikely success in the television hot seat and his rough-and-tumble upbringing that provided the life lessons serving him so well now.