This Year’s Best Picture Oscar Winner Out on DVD
Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) was just one correct answer away from winning 20 million rupees on India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” when the police decided to question him about his extraordinary string of luck. After all, no one ever lasted this long on the TV game show before, and the producers doubted that this dirt-poor, uneducated orphan from the teeming slums of Mumbai could have achieved his unlikely feat without cheating.
Therefore, the night before his return for his final appearance on the program, they arrange for the authorities to drag the innocent 18 year-old down to the station for a little Abu Ghraib-level interrogation away from the public eye. But despite being tortured by a couple of sadistic cops (Irfan Khan and Saurabh Shukla), Jamal matter-of-factly explains exactly how he came to acquire the answers to such seemingly obscure trivia questions.
For, all the unfortunate lad has to share is his sorrowful autobiography, an endless tale of woe which he reveals via a kaleidoscope of colorful flashbacks. Surprisingly, it turns out that he’s actually less concerned with taking home the grand prize than with using his TV publicity as a means of finding his long-lost love, Latika (Freida Pinto), a fellow street urchin and fan of the popular quiz show.
This is the engaging premise of Slumdog Millionaire, the independent flick from India which swept this year’s Academy Awards, garnering eight Oscars in all, including Best Picture. Credit co-directors Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan for cleverly interweaving the three non-simultaneous strands of Jamal’s life story into an absorbing, genre-defying romantic thriller.
Will the industrious protagonist die behind bars while being interrogated or will he give the right answer to that final question, win the loot and be reunited with his sweetheart? A dizzying and delightful spectacle well worth the investment for the kaleidoscope of colors from the Subcontinent alone.