How is possible that an indipendent movie has won 8 Ocars?
This is the question we see on the screen when the Slumdog Millionare starts but is also the question we now do after the Oscar’s verdicts.
Slumdog Millionaire was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 2009 and won eight, the most for any film of 2008, including Best Picture and Best Director. It also won five Critics’ Choice Awards, four Golden Globes, and seven BAFTA Awards, including Best Film.
A predictable triumph realized by a predestinate director as Danny Bolye is.
We we can easily find the embryos of this success in some the Boyle’s previous works.
Since he burst onto the scene with “Trainspotting”, Danny Boyle has been one of the most innovative and groundbreaking filmmakers working in the business.
Working class’s stories are perfectibily combined with Gangster situations in an Indian metropolis.
A Mumbai teen, Jamal Malik, who grew up in the slums, becomes a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers. This is conveyed in a series of flashbacks documenting the particulars of his childhood. This includes scenes of him obtaining Bachchan’s autograph, the death of his mother during the Hindu anti-Muslim violence, rekindling the memory of the 1993 anti-Muslim attacks in Mumbai by Hindu nationalists in the slums,and how he and his brother Salim befriend Latika (Freida Pinto) (he refers to Salim and himself as Athos and Porthos, and Latika as the third Musketeer.)
The children are eventually discovered by Maman (Ankur Vikal) while they live in the trash heaps. Maman is a gangster (a fact they do not actually know at the time they meet him) who “collects” street children so that he can ultimately train them to beg for money. Salim is groomed to become a part of Maman’s operation and is asked to bring Jamal to Maman in order to be blinded (which would improve his income potential as a singing beggar). Salim rebels against Maman to protect his brother, and the three children try to escape, but only Salim and Jamal are successful as Salim purposely lets go of Latika’s hand as she tries to board a train they are hopping while trying to escape. Latika is re-captured by Maman’s organization and raised as a culturally talented prostitute whose virginity will fetch a high price.
The brothers eke out a living, traveling on top of trains, selling goods, pretending to be tour guides at the Taj Mahal, and picking pockets. Jamal eventually insists that they return to Mumbai since he wishes to locate Latika. When he finds her working as a dancer in a brothel, the brothers attempt to rescue her, but Maman intrudes, and in the resulting conflict Salim draws a gun and kills Maman. Salim then uses the fact that he killed Maman to obtain a job with Javed (Mahesh Manjrekar), a rival crime lord. Salim claims Latika as his own and when Jamal protests, Salim threatens to kill him and Latika intervenes, accepting her fate with Salim and breaking Jamal’s heart.
Years later, Jamal has a position as a “chai-wallah” (a boy or young man who serves tea) at a call centre. When he is asked to cover for a co-worker for a couple of minutes, he searches the database for Salim and Latika. He gets in touch with Salim, who has become a high-ranking lieutenant in Javed’s organization. Jamal confronts a regretful Salim on tense terms. Salim invites Jamal to live with him and, after following Salim to Javed’s house, he sees Latika living there. He talks his way in as the new dishwasher and tries to convince Latika to leave. She rebuffs his advances, but he promises to be at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station every day at five p.m. for her. She tries to discourage him, but on the first day that Jamal waits there, Latika attempts to rendezvous with him, but is recaptured by Salim and Javed’s men. One of the men then slashes her cheek with a knife, scarring her as Salim drives off, leaving Jamal with the onlooking crowd.
Jamal again loses contact with Latika when Javed moves to another house. In another attempt to find Latika, Jamal tries out for the popular game show because he knows that she will be watching. He makes it to the final question, despite the hostile attitude of the host who feeds Jamal a wrong answer during a break. At the end of the show, Jamal has one question left to win two crore, or 20 million rupees ($388,275 U.S.) and is taken into police custody, where he is tortured as the police attempt to learn how Jamal, a simple “slumdog,” could know the answers to so many questions. After Jamal tells his whole story, explaining how his life experiences coincidentally enabled him to know the answer to each question, the police inspector calls Jamal’s explanation “bizarrely plausible” and, knowing he’s not in it for the money, allows him to return to the show for the final question.
At Javed’s safehouse, Latika watches the news coverage of Jamal’s miraculous run on the show. Salim gives Latika his phone, and the keys to his car, and urges her to run away. When Jamal uses his Phone-A-Friend lifeline to call Salim, Latika answers his phone and they reconnect. She does not know the answer to the final question either but, believing that “it is written”, she tells Jamal in unsubtitled Hindi, “I’m yours” right before the phone connection is cut. Jamal guesses the correct answer (Aramis) to the question of the one Musketeer whose name they never learned, and wins the grand prize. Simultaneously, Salim is discovered to have helped Latika escape and allows himself to be killed in a bathtub full of money after shooting and killing Javed. Salim’s last words are “God is great.” Later that night, Jamal and Latika meet at the railway station and they share a kiss. It is then revealed that the correct answer to the opening question is: D) it is written. In a scene reminiscent of many Bollywood musicals, they then dance, along with dozens of bystanders and even the juvenile versions of themselves, in the train station during the end credits.