Slumdog Millionaire: Jamal, a slum kid done good, is just trying to get back with his girl. The universe seems to have other plans for him, and it involves appearing on the Indian Who Wants to be a Millionaire? – where, despite his slum upbringing, he knows a streak of answers. This however makes the host suspicious, and he calls the cops to take him away for a shake-down.
A film adaptation of a novel, Q & A by Vikas Swarup, Slumdog Millionaire is up for serious Oscar contention. Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting), it’s little wonder a story like this is being considered a dark horse for Best Picture. Timelines are interspersed, but each subtly clear and distinct, though it does like to meander. Told mostly in English, the plot manages to keep its thread, though there are moments of credulity that the suspension of disbelief is required to overcome. Scenes of the slums can be confronting, and occasionally it appears to be exaggerated to make the point, but it’s all in there, and then some.
Much of the cast appear to be first-timers or near-unknowns, with the exception of the host (Anil Kapoor, former Bollywood heart-throb), and the police detective (Irfan Khan, last seen by me in The Namesake a week ago), who both fill their roles admirably. The newcomers and child actors do well, though not without the occasional moment of heavy-handed direction.
Stylistically told, well acted and with a brilliant soundtrack by A. R. Rahman (featuring M.I.A.), Slumdog Millionaire should definitely surprise. ★★★★