Mixing wit and romance, “Slumdog Millionaire” proves to be a well-rounded story of survival, of overcoming obstacles in unfortunate circumstances to find a love that was once lost. Director Danny Boyle (“28 Days Later” and “Trainspotting”) and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (“The Full Monty”) come together and manage to create a film depicting the brutal experiences in the life of an orphaned child growing up in the slums of Mumbai while managing to keep the film lighthearted with its witty dialogue and humorous tone.
Based on the novel by Vikas Swarup, this drama is based on Jamal Malik, played by Dev Patel (also in the 2007 British series “Skins”), a young boy from Mumbai. Jamal grew up in the slums, but he somehow manages to end up on India’s very own version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?—answering question after question correctly at that.
The film opens up with Jamal sitting in the “hot seat” with the show’s host making small talk, asking him where he is from and where he works. Upon discovering that Jamal is merely a chai wallah who serves tea at a call center, he pokes fun at the idea that this young man could possibly win the full lot of money—20 million rupee. Questions come and go, and the terrified Jamal has only used one “lifeline.” Suspicions of cheating are raised and, during the TV show’s overnight break, Jamal is tortured in interrogation to discover how he might know all the answers to the questions being given to him. The detective interrogating him cannot understand how Jamal could answer a question in reference to an American one hundred dollar bill but that he cannot correctly answer a question in reference to their own country without consulting the audience. Most of all, no one can understand what this “slumdog” wants with 20 million rupee, since it seems his motivation is not the money after all. The detective discovers this as well as he listens to Jamal’s story throughout the interrogation.