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Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British drama film that is a loose adaptation of the novel Q & A (2005) by Indian author Vikas Swarup, telling the story of 18-year-old Jamal Malik from the Juhu slums of Mumbai.[6] Starring Dev Patel as Jamal, and filmed in India, the film was directed by Danny Boyle,[7] written by Simon Beaufoy, and produced by Christian Colson, with Loveleen Tandan credited as co-director.[8] As a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Jamal surprises everyone by being able to answer every question correctly. Accused of cheating, Jamal recounts his life story to the police, illustrating how he is able to answer each question correctly.

After its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival and later screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival and the London Film Festival,[9] Slumdog Millionaire had a nationwide release in the United Kingdom on 9 January 2009, in India on 23 January 2009,[10] and in the United States on 25 December 2008. Regarded as a sleeper hit, Slumdog Millionaire was widely acclaimed, being praised for its plot, soundtrack, direction, and performances (especially Patel's). It was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 2009 and won eight—the most for any 2008 film—including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It won seven BAFTA Awards including Best Film, five Critics' Choice Awards and four Golden Globes.

The Slumdog Millionaire team at the 81st Academy Awards in the US

Outside of India, Slumdog Millionaire was met with critical acclaim. The film holds a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 288 reviews, with an average score of 8.38/10. The consensus reads, "Visually dazzling and emotionally resonant, Slumdog Millionaire is a film that's both entertaining and powerful."[74] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating using reviews from mainstream critics, the film has an average score of 86 out of 100, based on 36 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[75] Movie City News shows that the film appeared in 123 different top ten lists, out of 286 different critics lists surveyed, the 4th most mentions on a top ten list of any film released in 2008.[76]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film four out of four stars, calling it "a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating."[77] Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern refers to Slumdog Millionaire as, "the film world's first globalised masterpiece."[78] Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post argues that, "this modern-day 'rags-to-rajah' fable won the audience award at the digital cinematography to win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, which was given to Anthony Dod Mantle.[33]

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 title sequence was nominated at the 2009 Rushes Soho Shorts Film Festival in the Broadcast Design Award category in competition with the Match of the Day Euro 2008 titles by Aardman and two projects by Agenda Collective.

In 2010, the Independent Film & Television Alliance selected the film as one of the 30 Most Significant Independent Films of the last 30 years.[73]

Outside of India, Slumdog Millionaire was met with critical acclaim. The film holds a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 288 reviews, with an average score of 8.38/10. The consensus reads, "Visually dazzling and emotionally resonant, Slumdog Millionaire is a film that's both entertaining and powerful."[74] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating using reviews from mainstream critics, the film has an average score of 86 out of 100, based on 36 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[75] Movie City News shows that the film appeared in 123 different top ten lists, out of 286 different critics lists surveyed, the 4th most mentions on a top ten list of any film released in 2008.[76]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film four out of four stars, calling it "a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating."[77] Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern refers to Slumdog Millionaire as, "the film world's first globalised masterpiece."[78] 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 w

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film four out of four stars, calling it "a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating."[77] Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern refers to Slumdog Millionaire as, "the film world's first globalised masterpiece."[78] 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."[79] 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."[80] 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."[81] 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".[82] Several other reviewers have described Slumdog Millionaire as a Bollywood-style "masala" movie,[83] due to the way the film combines "familiar raw ingredients into a feverish masala"[84] and culminates in "the romantic leads finding each other."[85]

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."[4]

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."[86] 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."[87]

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, 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."[88]

Adoor Gopalakrishnan, one of the most acclaimed film makers in India during the 1980s and 1990s and a five time Best Director winner of the Indian National Film Awards—the most prestigious film awards in India—lambasted Slumdog Millionaire, calling it in an interview to NDTV: "A very anti-Indian film. All the bad elements of Bombay's commercial cinema are put together and in a very slick way. And it underlines and endorses what the West thinks about us. It is falseh

Adoor Gopalakrishnan, one of the most acclaimed film makers in India during the 1980s and 1990s and a five time Best Director winner of the Indian National Film Awards—the most prestigious film awards in India—lambasted Slumdog Millionaire, calling it in an interview to NDTV: "A very anti-Indian film. All the bad elements of Bombay's commercial cinema are put together and in a very slick way. And it underlines and endorses what the West thinks about 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."[89]

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.[90][91] Ana Cristina Mendes (2010) places Boyle's film in the context of the aestheticising and showcasing of poverty in India for artistic (and commercial) purposes, and proceeds to examine "the modes of circulation of these representations in the field of cultural production, as well as their role in enhancing the processes of ever-increasing consumption of India-related images."[92]

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

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.[93]

Academic criticism has also been extended to the underlying philosophy of the film, with its apparent ends-justify-means message.[94] Many elements of the film, including the apparent redemption of Salim at the end of his life and the film's subjugation of the suffering of peripheral characters to the romantic aspirations of Jamal, are characteristic, say such critics, of a naïve, Providence-based vision of reality.[94]

The Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack was composed by A. R. Rahman, who planned the score for over two months and completed it in two weeks.[95] 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."[27] Rahman won the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and won two Academy Awards, one for Best Original Score and one for Best Original Song for "Jai Ho". Rahman had two songs nominated for Best Original Song – the nomination for "O... Saya" was shared with M.I.A., while the win for "Jai Ho" was 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.[96]

Notes