DIR: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan • WRI: Simon Beaufoy • PRO: Christian Colson, Paul Ritchie • DOP: Anthony Dod Mantle • ED: Chris Dickens • DES: Mark Digby • CAST: Dev Patel, Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor, Madhur Mittal
Based on the bestselling book Q&A by Vikas Swarup, Slumdog Millionaire is the latest film from Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later).
The film is set in 2006. Jamal Malik is one question away from winning the jackpot on India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He has gotten further than any lawyers, doctors and university students who have been on the show. This is made even more unbelievable by the fact that Jamal is from the slums of Mumbai and works as the tea-maker in a call centre. Jamal is accused of cheating and arrested. Then Jamal tries to explain how he has gotten so far on the show. Has he cheated? Or was he meant to win the show?
Jamal takes us through his childhood, growing up in the slums with his brother Salim and his friend Latika. We see the journey that he has been on and the experiences he has lived through. The film gives a great insight into life in the slums and what it is like; Boyle drops us right into the middle of it. We can see that while there is a dark side that there’s also a great sense of community in these places.
Jamal, (played by Dev Patel from E4’s Skins) is an endearing character and Patel is excellent in his role. The scenes of him and his brother as children are, I think, the best part of the film. The fact that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has such a major place in the film does date it a little; maybe a few years ago it would have seemed more relevant. But I suppose everyone knows the rules of the show and how it works so there’s no confusion. I haven’t read the book Q&A so I can’t say if Boyle has remained faithful to it or not so it’s difficult for me to say whether or not fans of the book will be fans of the film.
The film is visually stunning; it is full of colour and life. Boyle (co-directing with Loveleen Tandan on the Indian shoot) lets us experience life in India from the perspective of those living in the worst conditions but he manages to do this without being depressing. I think a sign of a great film is one which takes you to another place, one which makes you forget you’re in a cinema. It’s been a while since a film has done that for me, but Slumdog Millionaire did. It is definitely one of the must-see films of this year.