Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Danny Boyle|
|Produced by||Christian Colson|
|Screenplay by||Simon Beaufoy|
|Based on||Q & A
by Vikas Swarup
|Music by||A. R. Rahman|
|Cinematography||Anthony Dod Mantle|
|Edited by||Chris Dickens|
|Box office||$377.9 million|
Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British drama film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Simon Beaufoy, and produced by Christian Colson. It was co-directed in India by Loveleen Tandan. It is a loose adaptation of the novel Q & A (2005) by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup. Set and filmed in India, the film tells the story of Jamal Malik, a young man from the Juhu slums of Mumbai who appears on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and exceeds people's expectations, thereby arousing the suspicions of cheating; Jamal recounts in flashback how he knows the answer to each question, each one linked to a key event in his life.
After its world premiere at Telluride Film Festival and later screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival and the London Film Festival, Slumdog Millionaire had a nationwide grand release in the United Kingdom on 9 January 2009 and in the United States on 23 January 2009. It premiered in Mumbai on 22 January 2009.
A sleeper hit, Slumdog Millionaire was widely acclaimed, being praised for its plot, soundtrack and direction. In addition, it was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 2009, winning eight, the most for any film of 2008, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also won seven BAFTA Awards including Best Film, five Critics' Choice Awards, and four Golden Globes.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Release and box office performance
- 5 Reaction
- 6 Soundtrack
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In 2006, eighteen-year-old Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a former street child (child Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, adolescent Tanay Chheda) from the Juhu slum, is a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (see Kaun Banega Crorepati), and is one question away from the grand prize. However, before the ₹20 million (US$300,000) question, he is detained and tortured by the police, who suspect him of cheating because of the impossibility of a simple "slumdog" with very little education knowing all the answers. Jamal recounts, through flashbacks, the incidents in his life which provided him with each answer. These flashbacks tell the story of Jamal, his brother Salim (adult Madhur Mittal, adolescent Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, child Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail), and Latika (adult Freida Pinto, adolescent Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, child Rubina Ali). In each flashback Jamal has a point to remember one person, or song, or different things that lead to the right answer of one of the questions. The row of questions does not correspond chronologically to Jamal's life, so the story switches between different periods (childhood, adolescence) of Jamal. Some questions do not refer to points of his life (cricket champion), but by witness he comes to the right answer.
Jamal's flashbacks begin with his managing, at age five, to obtain the autograph of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, which his brother then sells, followed immediately by the death of his mother during the Bombay Riots. As they flee the riot, they run into a child version of the god Rama. Salim and Jamal then meet Latika, another child from their slum. Salim is reluctant to take her in, but Jamal suggests that she could be the third musketeer, a character from the Alexandre Dumas novel (which they had been studying — albeit not very diligently — in school), whose name they do not know. The three are found by Maman (Ankur Vikal), a gangster who tricks and then trains street children into becoming beggars. Maman attempts to recruit Salim, but when Salim discovers Maman is blinding the children in order to make them more effective beggars, he flees with Jamal and Latika to a departing train. However, when Latika catches up to the train and takes Salim's hand, he purposely lets go, and she is recaptured by the gangsters. Over the next few years, Salim and Jamal make a living travelling on top of trains, selling goods, picking pockets, working as dish washers, and pretending to be tour guides at the Taj Mahal, where they steal people's shoes. At Jamal's insistence, they return to Mumbai to find Latika, discovering that she has been raised by Maman to become a prostitute and that as a virgin she is expected to fetch a high price. The brothers rescue her, and Salim draws a gun and kills Maman. Salim then manages to get a job with Javed (Mahesh Manjrekar), Maman's rival crime lord. Back at their room, Salim orders Jamal to leave him and Latika alone. When Jamal refuses, Salim draws a gun on him, and Latika persuades him to go away to protect him.
Years later, while working as a tea server at an Indian call centre, Jamal searches the centre's database for Salim and Latika. He fails in finding Latika but succeeds in finding Salim, who is now a high-ranking lieutenant in Javed's organization, and they reunite. Jamal attacks Salim, who pleads for forgiveness, and lets him stay in his luxurious apartment. Jamal then bluffs his way into Javed's residence and reunites with Latika. While Jamal professes his love for her, Latika asks him to forget about her. Jamal promises to wait for her every day at 5 o'clock at the VT station. Latika attempts to rendezvous with him, but she is recaptured by Javed's men, led by Salim. Jamal loses contact with Latika when Javed moves to another house, outside Mumbai. Jamal becomes a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, knowing that she watches the show regularly. He makes it to the final question, much to the consternation of the show's host, Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor), and becomes a wonder across India. Kumar feeds Jamal the incorrect response to the penultimate question and, when Jamal chooses the correct answer instead, turns him in to the police on suspicion of cheating.
Back in the interrogation room, the police inspector (Irrfan Khan) calls Jamal's explanation "bizarrely plausible" and allows him to return to the show. At Javed's safehouse, Latika sees Jamal on the news and Salim, in an effort to make amends for his past behaviour, gives Latika his mobile phone and car keys, and asks her to forgive him and to go to Jamal. Latika is reluctant out of fear of Javed, but agrees and escapes. Salim fills a bathtub with money and sits in it, waiting for Javed and his men. Jamal's final question is, by coincidence, the name of the third musketeer in The Three Musketeers, which he never learned. Jamal uses his Phone-A-Friend lifeline to call Salim's cell, as it is the only phone number he knows. Latika answers the phone, and, while she does not know the answer, tells Jamal that she is safe. Relieved, Jamal randomly picks Aramis, the right answer, and wins the grand prize. Simultaneously, Javed hears Latika on the show and realizes that Salim has betrayed him. He and his men break down the bathroom door, and Salim kills Javed before being gunned down by his men. With his dying breath, Salim gasps, "God is great." Later that night, Jamal and Latika meet at the railway station and kiss. The movie ends with a dance scene on the platform to the song "Jai Ho".
- Dev Patel as Jamal Malik, the protagonist, a boy born and raised in the poverty of Bombay/Mumbai. Boyle considered hundreds of young male actors, and he found that Bollywood leads were generally "strong, handsome hero-types". Boyle's daughter pointed Dev Patel out from his role in the British television ensemble drama Skins.
- Freida Pinto as Latika, Jamal's love interest. Pinto was an Indian model who had not starred in a feature film before. Regarding the "one of a kind" scarf she wears, designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb says, "I wanted to bookend the journey—to tie her childhood yellow dress to her final look."
- Madhur Mittal as Salim K. Malik, Jamal's elder brother.
- Anil Kapoor as Prem Kumar, the game show host. Boyle initially wanted Indian actor Shahrukh Khan to play the role, but things did not work out. Khan had hosted the 2007 series of Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Kapoor has also starred as a guest on the show with Amitabh Bachchan and won Rs 5,000,000.
- Irrfan Khan as the Police Inspector
- Saurabh Shukla as Head Constable Srinivas
- Mahesh Manjrekar as Javed Khan, the crime boss and the main antagonist.
- Ankur Vikal as Maman
- Rajendranath Zutshi as the Millionaire show producer
- Sanchita Choudhary as Jamal and Salim's mother
- Mia Drake Inderbitzin as Adele, American tourist
- Shanjei Ramanathan as Arvind, blind beggar boy
- Arfi Lamba as Bardi
- Shruti Seth as Voice Accent Trainer
Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy wrote Slumdog Millionaire based on the Boeke Prize-winning and Commonwealth Writers' Prize-nominated novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. To hone the script, Beaufoy made three research trips to India and interviewed street children, finding himself impressed with their attitudes. The screenwriter said of his goal for the script: "I wanted to get (across) the sense of this huge amount of fun, laughter, chat, and sense of community that is in these slums. What you pick up on is this mass of energy."
By the summer of 2006, British production companies Celador Films and Film4 Productions invited director Danny Boyle to read the script of Slumdog Millionaire. Boyle hesitated, since he was not interested in making a film about Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, which was produced by Celador. Then Boyle learned that the screenwriter was Beaufoy, who had written The Full Monty (1997), one of the director's favourite British films, and decided to revisit the script. Boyle was impressed by how Beaufoy wove the multiple storylines from Swarup's book into one narrative, and the director decided to commit to the project. The film was projected to cost $15 million, so Celador sought a US film distributor to share costs. The $2 million offered by Fox Searchlight Pictures fell far short of what producer Christian Colson was asking for. Warner Independent Pictures stepped up with $5 million and won rights to the picture.
Gail Stevens came on board to oversee casting globally. Stevens had worked with Boyle throughout his career and was well known for discovering new talent. Meredith Tucker was appointed to cast out of the US. The film-makers then travelled to Mumbai in September 2007 with a partial crew and began hiring local cast and crew for production in Karjat. Originally appointed as one of the five casting directors in India, Loveleen Tandan has stated, "I suggested to Danny and Simon Beaufoy, the writer of Slumdog, that it was important to do some of it in Hindi to bring the film alive [...] They asked me to pen the Hindi dialogues which I, of course, instantly agreed to do. And as we drew closer to the shoot date, Danny asked me to step in as the co-director." Boyle then decided to translate nearly a third of the film's English dialogue into Hindi. The director fibbed to Warner Independent's president that he wanted 10% of the dialogue in Hindi, and she approved the change. Filming locations included shooting in Mumbai's megaslum and in shantytown parts of Juhu, so film-makers controlled the crowds by befriending onlookers. Filming began on 5 November 2007.
In addition to Swarup's original novel Q & A, the film was also inspired by Indian cinema. Tandan has referred to Slumdog Millionaire as a homage to Hindi commercial cinema, noting that "Simon Beaufoy studied Salim-Javed's kind of cinema minutely." Boyle has cited the influence of several Bollywood films set in Mumbai.[i] Satya (1998) (screenplay co-written by Saurabh Shukla, who plays Constable Srinivas in Slumdog Millionaire) and Company (2002) (based on the D-Company) both offered "slick, often mesmerising portrayals of the Mumbai underworld" and displayed realistic "brutality and urban violence." Boyle has also stated that the chase in one of the opening scenes of Slumdog Millionaire was based on a "12-minute police chase through the crowded Dharavi slum" in Black Friday (2007) (adapted from Hussein Zaidi's book of the same name about the 1993 Bombay bombings). Deewaar (1975), which Boyle described as being "absolutely key to Indian cinema", is a crime film based on the Bombay gangster Haji Mastan, portrayed by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, whose autograph Jamal seeks at the beginning of Slumdog Millionaire. Anil Kapoor noted that some scenes of the film "are like Deewaar, the story of two brothers of whom one is completely after money while the younger one is honest and not interested in money." Boyle has cited other Indian films as influences in later interviews.[ii] The rags-to-riches, underdog theme was also a recurring theme in classic Bollywood movies from the 1950s through to the 1980s, when "India worked to lift itself from hunger and poverty." Other classic Bollywood tropes in the film include "the fantasy sequences" and the montage sequence where "the brothers jump off a train and suddenly they are seven years older".
The producer's first choice for the role of Prem Kumar was Shahrukh Khan, an established Bollywood star and host of the 2007 series of Kaun Banega Crorepati (the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?). However Khan turned down the role, concerned that he did not want to give his audience the impression that the real show was a fraud by playing a fraud host in the movie. Despite the subsequent success of the film, Khan has stated that he does not regret turning the role down and has been a vociferous supporter of the film to its critics.
Paul Smith, the executive producer of Slumdog Millionaire and the chairman of Celador Films, previously owned the international rights to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Release and box office performance
In August 2007, Warner Independent Pictures acquired the North American rights and Pathé the international rights to distribute Slumdog Millionaire theatrically. However, in May 2008, Warner Independent Pictures was shut down, with all of its projects being transferred to Warner Bros., its parent studio. Warner Bros. doubted the commercial prospects of Slumdog Millionaire and suggested that it would go straight to DVD without a US theatrical release. In August 2008, the studio began searching for buyers for various productions, to relieve its overload of end-of-the-year films. Halfway through the month, Warner Bros. entered into a pact with Fox Searchlight Pictures to share distribution of the film, with Fox Searchlight buying 50% of Warner Bros.'s interest in the movie and handling US distribution.
Following its success at the 81st Academy Awards, the film topped the worldwide box office (barring North America), grossing $16 million from 34 markets in the week following the Academy Awards. Worldwide, the film has currently grossed over $377 million, becoming Fox Searchlight Pictures's highest-grossing film ever (surpassing Juno).
The Australian 2008 release of Slumdog Millionaire was produced by Icon Film Distribution.
Slumdog Millionaire was first shown at the Telluride Film Festival on 30 August 2008, where it was positively received by audiences, generating "strong buzz". The film also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2008, where it was "the first widely acknowledged popular success" of the festival, winning the People's Choice Award. Slumdog Millionaire debuted with a limited North American release on 12 November 2008, followed by a nationwide release in the United States on 23 January 2009.
After debuting on a Wednesday, the film grossed $360,018 in 10 theatres in its first weekend, a strong average of $36,002 per theatre. In its second weekend, it expanded to 32 theatres and made $947,795, or an average of $29,619 per theatre, representing a drop of only 18%. In the 10 original theatres that it was released in, viewership went up 16%, and this is attributed to strong word-of-mouth. The film expanded into wide release on 25 December 2008 at 614 theatres and earned $5,647,007 over the extended Christmas weekend. Following its success at the 81st Academy Awards, the film's takings increased by 43%, the most for any film since Titanic. In the weekend of 27 February to 1 March, the film reached its widest release at 2,943 theatres. The film has grossed over $140 million at the North American box office.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on 31 March 2009. The film opened at No. 2 in the DVD sales chart, making $14.16m off 842,000 DVD units. As of 12 November 2009, an estimated 1,964,962 DVD units have been sold, translating to $31.32m in revenue. This figure does not include Blu-ray sales/DVD rentals. It had previously been announced that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment would be starting a new marketing program with two versions of each release: a stripped-down minimal version for the rental market, and a traditional full version with "bonus extra" features, such as commentary and "making of" material for the retail market. The release production was mixed up; some full versions were shipped in rental cases, and some retail versions were missing the extras despite their being listed on the outside of the box. Public apologies were issued by Fox and Amazon.
The film was released in the United Kingdom on 9 January 2009, and opened at No. 2 at the UK box office. The film reached No. 1 in its second weekend and set a UK box office record, as the film's takings increased by 47%. This is the "biggest ever increase for a UK saturation release," breaking "the record previously held by Billy Elliot 's 13%." This record-breaking "ticket surge" in the second weekend came after Slumdog Millionaire won four Golden Globes and received eleven BAFTA nominations. The film grossed £6.1 million in its first eleven days of release in the UK. The takings increased by another 7% the following weekend, bringing the film's gross up to £10.24 million for its first seventeen days in the UK, and up to £14.2 million in its third week.
As of 20 February 2009, the film's UK box office gross was £22,973,110, making it "the eighth biggest hit at UK cinemas of the past 12 months." In the week ending 1 March 2009, following its success at the 81st Academy Awards where it won eight Oscars, the film returned to No. 1 at the UK box office, grossing £26 million as of 2 March 2009. As of 17 May 2009, the total UK gross was over £31.6 million. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 1 June 2009.
The film's success at the Academy Awards led to it seeing large increases in takings elsewhere in Europe the following week. Its biggest single country increase was in Italy, where it was up 556% from the previous week. The takings in France and Spain also increased by 61% and 73% respectively. During the same week, the film debuted in other European countries with successful openings: in Croatia it grossed $170,419 from 10 screens, making it the biggest opening there in the last four months; and in Poland it opened in second place with a gross of $715,677. The film was released in Sweden on 6 March 2009 and in Germany on 19 March 2009.
In India, the premiere of Slumdog Millionaire took place in Mumbai on 22 January 2009 and was attended by major personalities of the Indian film industry, with more than a hundred attending this event. A dubbed Hindi version, Slumdog Crorepati (स्लमडॉग करोड़पति), was also released in India in addition to the original version of the film. Originally titled Slumdog Millionaire: Kaun Banega Crorepati, the name was shortened for legal reasons. Loveleen Tandan, who supervised the dubbing, stated, "All the actors from the original English including Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and Ankur Vikal dubbed the film. We got a boy from Chembur, Pratik Motwani to dub for the male lead Dev Patel. I didn't want any exaggerated dubbing. I wanted a young unspoilt voice." The film was also dubbed in Tamil as Naanum Kodeeswaran, with Silambarasan dubbing for Patel, while S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Radha Ravi dubbed for Kapoor and Khan respectively.
Fox Searchlight released 351 prints of the film across India for its full release there on 23 January 2009. It earned ₹23,545,665 (equivalent to ₹35 million or US$520,000 in 2015) in its first week at the Indian box office, or $2.2 million according to Fox Searchlight. Though not as successful as major Bollywood releases in India during its first week, this was the highest weekend gross for any Fox film and the third highest for any Western release in the country, trailing only Spider-Man 3 and Casino Royale. In its second week, the film's gross rose to ₹30,470,752 (equivalent to ₹45 million or US$680,000 in 2015) at the Indian box office.
A few analysts have offered their opinions about the film's performance at the Indian box office. Trade analyst Komal Nahta commented, "There was a problem with the title itself. Slumdog is not a familiar word for majority Indians." In addition, trade analyst Amod Mehr has stated that with the exception of Anil Kapoor, the film lacks recognisable stars and that "the film... is not ideally suited for Indian sentiment." A cinema owner commented that "to hear slum boys speaking perfect English doesn't seem right but when they are speaking in Hindi, the film seems much more believable." The dubbed Hindi version, Slumdog Crorepati, did better at the box office, and additional copies of that version were released. Following the film's success at the 81st Academy Awards, the film's takings in India increased by 470% the following week, bringing its total up to $6.3 million that week. As of 15 March 2009, Slumdog Crorepati had grossed ₹158,613,802 (equivalent to ₹230 million or US$3.5 million in 2015) at the Indian box office.
The film's success at the Academy Awards led to it seeing large increases in takings in the Asia-Pacific region. In Australia, the takings increased by 53%, bringing the film up to second place there. In Hong Kong, the film debuted taking $1 million in its opening weekend, making it the second biggest opening of the year there. The film was released in Japan on 18 April 2009, South Korea on 19 March 2009, China on 26 March 2009, Vietnam on 10 April 2009, and 11 April 2009 in the Philippines.
In particular, the film was a major success in East Asia. In the People's Republic of China, the film grossed $2.2 million in its opening weekend (27–29 March). In Japan, the film grossed $12 million, the most the film has grossed in any Asian country.
|Academy Awards record|
|1. Best Picture, Christian Colson|
|2. Best Director, Danny Boyle|
|3. Best Adapted Screenplay, Simon Beaufoy|
|4. Best Cinematography, Anthony Dod Mantle|
|5. Best Original Score, A. R. Rahman,|
|6. Best Original Song – "Jai Ho", Music by A. R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar (lyricist)|
|7. Best Film Editing, Chris Dickens|
|8. Best Sound Mixing, Resul Pookutty, Richard Pryke, and Ian Tapp|
|BAFTA Awards record|
|1. Best Film, Christian Colson|
|2. Best Director, Danny Boyle|
|3. Best Adapted Screenplay, Simon Beaufoy|
|4. Best Cinematography, Anthony Dod Mantle|
|5. Best Film Music, A. R. Rahman|
|6. Best Editing, Chris Dickens|
|7. Best Sound, Glenn Freemantle, Resul Pookutty, Richard Pyke, Tom Sayers, Ian Tapp|
|Golden Globe Awards record|
|1. Best Picture – Drama|
|2. Best Director, Danny Boyle|
|3. Best Screenplay, Simon Beaufoy|
|4. Best Original Score, A. R. Rahman|
|Goya Awards (Spain)|
|1. Best European Film|
Slumdog Millionaire was critically acclaimed, named in the top ten lists of various newspapers. On 22 February 2009, the film won eight out of ten Academy Awards for which it was nominated, including the Best Picture and Best Director. It is the eighth film ever to win eight Academy Awards and the eleventh Best Picture Oscar winner without a single acting nomination. At the same time, Taare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth), India's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, failed to make the short list of nominations and was frequently compared with Slumdog Millionaire in the Indian media.
The film also won seven of the eleven BAFTA Awards for which it was nominated, including Best Film; all four of the Golden Globe Awards for which it was nominated, including Best Drama Film; and five of the six Critics' Choice Awards for which it was nominated.
The much acclaimed title sequence has been honoured by a nomination at the prestigious 2009 Rushes Soho Shorts Film Festival in the 'Broadcast Design Award' category in competition with the likes of the Match of the Day Euro 2008 titles by Aardman and two projects by Agenda Collective.
Reactions from outside India
Slumdog Millionaire was met with near universal critical acclaim. As of 25 April 2015[update], Rotten Tomatoes has given the film a 92% rating with 244 fresh and 20 rotten reviews. The average score is 8.4/10. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 86, based on 36 reviews. Movie City News shows that the film appeared in 123 different top ten lists, out of 286 different critics lists surveyed, the 3rd most mentions on a top ten list of any film released in 2008.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film 4 out of 4 stars, stating that it is, "a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating." Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern refers to Slumdog Millionaire as, "the film world's first globalised masterpiece." Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post argues that, "this modern-day 'rags-to-rajah' fable won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, and it's easy to see why. With its timely setting of a swiftly globalising India and, more specifically, the country's own version of the 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' TV show, combined with timeless melodrama and a hardworking orphan who withstands all manner of setbacks, 'Slumdog Millionaire' plays like Charles Dickens for the 21st century." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times describes the film as "a Hollywood-style romantic melodrama that delivers major studio satisfactions in an ultra-modern way" and "a story of star-crossed romance that the original Warner brothers would have embraced, shamelessly pulling out stops that you wouldn't think anyone would have the nerve to attempt any more." Anthony Lane of the New Yorker stated, "There is a mismatch here. Boyle and his team, headed by the director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantle, clearly believe that a city like Mumbai, with its shifting skyline and a population of more than fifteen million, is as ripe for storytelling as Dickens's London [...] At the same time, the story they chose is sheer fantasy, not in its glancing details but in its emotional momentum. How else could Boyle get away with assembling his cast for a Bollywood dance number, at a railroad station, over the closing credits? You can either chide the film, at this point, for relinquishing any claim to realism or you can go with the flow—surely the wiser choice." Colm Andrew of the Manx Independent was also full of praise, saying the film "successfully mixes hard-hitting drama with uplifting action and the Who Wants To Be a Millionaire show is an ideal device to revolve events around". Several other reviewers have described Slumdog Millionaire as a Bollywood-style "masala" movie, due to the way the film combines "familiar raw ingredients into a feverish masala" and culminates in "the romantic leads finding each other."
Other critics offered more mixed reviews. For example, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film three out of five stars, stating that "despite the extravagant drama and some demonstrations of the savagery meted out to India's street children, this is a cheerfully undemanding and unreflective film with a vision of India that, if not touristy exactly, is certainly an outsider's view; it depends for its full enjoyment on not being taken too seriously." He also pointed out that the film is co-produced by Celador, who own the rights to the original Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and claimed that "it functions as a feature-length product placement for the programme."
A few critics outright panned it. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle states that, "Slumdog Millionaire has a problem in its storytelling. The movie unfolds in a start-and-stop way that kills suspense, leans heavily on flashbacks and robs the movie of most of its velocity.... [T]he whole construction is tied to a gimmicky narrative strategy that keeps Slumdog Millionaire from really hitting its stride until the last 30 minutes. By then, it's just a little too late." Eric Hynes of IndieWIRE called it "bombastic", "a noisy, sub-Dickens update on the romantic tramp's tale" and "a goofy picaresque to rival Forrest Gump in its morality and romanticism." Adam J. Seebach lambasted the film, the praise it received, and the Academy Awards for giving it the most attention over other movies he personally favoured that year (particularly The Dark Knight), criticising various coincidences in the storytelling and using the theme on destiny as an excuse for the plot structure to be all over the place, underdeveloped characters, generic cinematography, inaccuracies to the requirements necessary to participate in Who Wants to be a Millionaire? in real life, compared Danny Boyle's directing style to that of Michael Bay (a filmmaker that he has a strong hatred for), and the fact that it was advertised as a feel-good movie despite the subject matter it portrayed.
Reactions from India and the Indian diaspora
Slumdog Millionaire has been a subject of discussion among a variety of people in India and the Indian diaspora. Some film critics have responded positively to the film. At the same time, others objected to issues such as Jamal's use of British English or the fact that similar films by Indian filmmakers have not received equal recognition. A few notable filmmakers such as Aamir Khan and Priyadarshan have been critical of the film. Author and critic Salman Rushdie argues that it has "a patently ridiculous conceit."
Adoor Gopalakrishnan, arguably the most acclaimed film maker in India, a five time Best Director award winner of the Indian National Film Awards—the highest film awards in India—lambasted Slumdog Millionaire, calling it in an interview to NDTV: "A very anti-Indian film. All the bad elements of Mumbai commercial cinema are put together and in a very a slick way. And it underlines and endorses what the west thinks about of us. It is falsehood built upon falsehood. And at every turn is fabricated. At every turn it is built on falsehood. I was ashamed to see it was being appreciated widely in the west...Fortunately Indians are turning it down."
The film has been subject to serious academic criticism. Mitu Sengupta (2009 and 2010) raises substantial doubts about both the realism of the film's portrayal of urban poverty in India and whether the film will assist those arguing for the poor. Rather, Sengupta argues the film's "reductive view" of such slums is likely to reinforce negative attitudes to those who live there. The film is therefore likely to support policies that have tended to further dispossess the slum dwellers in terms of material goods, power and dignity. The film, it is also suggested, celebrates characters and places that might be seen as symbolic of Western culture and models of development.
However, there are others who point to the changing urban aspirations and prospects for mobility that can be seen in Indian cities such as Mumbai in which the film is set. The film is seen by D. Parthasarathy (2009) as reflecting a larger context of global cultural flows, which implicates issues of labour, status, ascription-achievement, and poverty in urban India. Parthasarathy (2009) argues for a better understanding of issues of dignity of labour and that the film should be interpreted in a more nuanced way as reflecting the role of market forces and India’s new service economy in transforming the caste and status determined opportunity structure in urban India.
The Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack was composed by A. R. Rahman, who planned the score for over two months and completed it in two weeks. Danny Boyle has said that he chose Rahman because "not only does he draw on Indian classical music, but he's got R&B and hip hop coming in from America, house music coming in from Europe and this incredible fusion is created." Rahman won the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and won two out of three nominations for the Academy Awards, including one for Best Original Score and one for Best Original Song for Jai Ho. The song "O... Saya" got a nomination shared with M.I.A., and the song "Jai Ho" won the Oscar, which Rahman shared with lyricist Gulzar. The soundtrack was released on M.I.A.'s record label N.E.E.T.. On Radio Sargam, film critic Goher Iqbal Punn termed the soundtrack Rahman's "magnum opus" which will acquaint "the entire world" with his artistry.
- i Specifically, in the Kumar article, Boyle referred to Deewaar (1975) by Yash Chopra and Salim-Javed, Satya (1998) and Company (2002) by Ram Gopal Verma, and Black Friday (2007) by Anurag Kashyap.
- ii Some of the other Indian films cited by Boyle as reference points for the film include Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali (1955), Mira Nair films such as Salaam Bombay! (1988), Ashutosh Gowarikar's Lagaan (2001), and Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par (2007).
- "Slumdog Millionaire (2008)". Screen International. 6 September 2008.
- "Slumdog Millionaire (2008)". British Film Institute.
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- Official website
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- Slumdog Millionaire at Metacritic
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