Starring Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, and Irfan Khan
Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting)
Rated R for some violence, disturbing images, and language
Appropriate for ages 13+
When Jamal, a young man from the slums of Mumbai, makes it to the final round of the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, he is tortured and interrogated by the police who are trying to discover how he cheated. While he is not book smart, he tries to convince the authorities that each question asked holds specific relevance to his life. Through the course of the game show, we discover Jamal’s journey from his childhood to present day, and what has really driven him to want to be on the show.
When I first heard about this film several months ago, I wasn’t too terribly interested. Most descriptions I saw, as well as the trailer, suggest a cheerful, happy film about a kid trying to prove himself to his love by going on a game show. This film is far from that terrible description. It turned out that this is an epic motion picture, masterfully directed by one of the greatest directors in the world, Danny Boyle, and beautifully written by Oscar nominated screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty). Sitting in the theater you never once get the hint of a frivolous Bollywood love story, but rather a coming of age film reminiscent of City of God (Boyle actually told me that they were so concerned with this parallel that they almost considered giving one of the young actors a different haircut because of the resemblance to one of City’s main actors). What gives this film an even greater depth is the quality of the romance and the dynamic between Jamal and the game show host.
Even though only Khan has appeared in American films, and many of the actors were very inexperienced, the performances were perfect. If you expect over-the-top Bollywood acting, you will be very much surprised. Danny Boyle has always been able to get great performances out his relatively unknown casts, and this film is no exception.
I think that it’s more than apparent that I really loved this film. I’ve seen it twice now, and can’t wait to go back again once it is released into theaters. I truly believe that this little film has the potential to score a big audience. At the very least, it should be a huge hit during the awards season. A+