Slumdog Millionaire

Year: 2008
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Dev Patel
Proof that in the media, you've still very much got to give 'em what they want. Also proof that we all love a story where the underdog gets his shot, and the further up he has to climb, the more we love it. Maybe that was the whole point, and for that reaosn maybe this film is merely the fifteen thousand, eight hundred and sevenst second iteration of the Cinderella/Dumbo/Rocky motif.

A young man appears on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? But while the bright lights and excitement on set as Jamal (Patel) goes for the big prize capture the nation, after hours he's taken to a police station, tortured and beaten because as a Mumbai slum kid they're sure he's cheating somehow.

Neatly slotted into the narrative is the story of Jamal growing up poor and rough on the mean streets where trivial nuggets of knowledge arise out of random incidents and people who cross his path in life (from his brother to the girl he's always loved and is still searching for), trivia that will turn up later in life just when he needs it. Cute and heartfelt, but Best Picture material returning twenty times its budget? You be the judge. I tend instead to believe the whole world and the Academy got caught in a wave of sugary feelgoodness.

What's most interesting about it however is that this is an example of a movie that ran under its own steam. This is the age where (to put it bluntly) the shit is focus-grouped out of movies before they ever arrive, producers and studios crafting military-precision campaigns to return their money in the critical first weekend.

Slumdog Millionaire was released small, little apparently expected of it. But it grew like a snowball before it had cracked the hundred million mark and before long everyone was mentioning the 'O' word. It's nice to see a film make it by itself - quite thematic given the story - and Boyle is indeed one of the best directors we have today.

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