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Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

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Slumdog Millionaire may be one of the best film’s of the year.

MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. Slumdog Millionaire follows Jamal Malik, a teenage orphan from the ghettos of Mumbai who is one question away from winning 20 million rupees on the Indian version of the trivia game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. As a “slumdog,” though, there are those who believe that Jamal must have cheated to have come so far on the show, namely the police.

As Jamal is relentlessly grilled by a no-nonsense police inspector and his brutal, porcine subordinate, the young man relates how he knew the answer to each question. Proving that life experiences count for as much if not more than learned knowledge, Jamal recounts how he and his older brother lost their mother when they were children to an anti-Muslim mob. Left to fend for themselves on the streets of Mumbai, Jamal and Salim turn to hustling and petty crimes to survive. Along the way they meet another young orphan, the fetching Latika, whom Jamal falls in love with and will spend the next several years chasing.

Jamal and Salim encounter a benefactor who turns out to be a ruthless criminal and they soon make a desperate escape from his clutches. Latika, however, is not as lucky and, as he matures, Jamal makes it his mission in life to locate and save her. His brother Salim, meanwhile, grows more brutal with age, eventually becoming an outright gangster while Jamal gets a legitimate job as a tea boy at a call center. It is while working there that Jamal lands a spot on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

It becomes clear As Jamal relates his story to the inspector that the youth has no real interest in the fortune that he stands to win. So what’s driving him? As Jamal gets closer and closer to the jackpot, he becomes an overnight celebrity and a beacon of hope for the millions of viewers who live the same hardscrabble life he has thus far led.

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