As such, Slumdog Millionaire strikes me as a hugely important film in contemporary cinema.
It's an advertisement for the dramatic potential of the non-Western city.
Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire is the film equivalent of Usain Bolt's performance at the Olympics: funny, shocking, spectacularly turbo-charged.
It takes your breath away at the same time as it makes you want to holler with joy or to grab the person next to you: "Yes!
Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
” But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much?And so, in a piece of plotting both nimble and schematic, one that involves lots of dramatic flashbacks, Malik reveals to the officers the train of events by which he amassed all sorts of facts.He can answer a question about film actor Amitabh Bachchan because when he was younger he had dived into a public latrine in order to get the Bollywood legend's autograph.But through a series of exhilarating tales Ram explains to his lawyer how episodes in his life gave him the answer to each question.Ram takes us on an amazing review of his own history—from the day he was found as a baby in the clothes donation box of a Delhi church to his employment by a faded Bollywood star to his adventure with a security-crazed Australian army colonel to his career as an overly creative tour guide at the Taj Mahal.Yet the film, which for all its breathless intensity rarely subverts our expectations, and which in its final section sticks closely to the conventions of modern action drama, never fails to grip or to delight.It's easy to sense the excitement that Boyle – and his cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle – felt when shooting in Mumbai.Intrigued by Jamal's story, the jaded Police Inspector begins to wonder what a young man with no apparent desire for riches is really doing on this game show?When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out..." It creates a scary and beguiling electricity by allowing opposites to collide – horror and joy, colourful fantasy and grimy reality, history and hyper-modernity.It is itself many different kinds of film: thriller, romance, picaresque, a Western stab at Bollywood.