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Slumdog Millionaire’ is a winner in every way

Adriana Platt | Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In the heart of Mumbai’s overwhelmingly impoverished and overcrowded slums lives orphan Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), the 18 year-old hero of “Slumdog Millionaire” who brings hope to his lost childhood love and the millions of Mumbai’s destitute inhabitants when he lands a spot on India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” As he answers more and more questions correctly, suspicions mount that this barely educated boy who has lived on the streets the majority of his life might be cheating and he is taken in for governmental questioning when the show breaks for the evening. After being physically tortured and intimidated by the impatient Indian police, he finally confesses to how he knew each answer and the revealing anecdotes he shares covering events from his childhood to the present day show how honest and how pure this gem from the slums really is.Irish director and Golden Globe winner Danny Boyle calls this masterpiece his “love letter to Mumbai,” and does his best to capture the prominent role the belief in destiny plays in the Indian culture by using it as the motivating factor that drives the actions of his protagonist. In an interview with Fox Searchlight Pictures, he says of the multitude of Indians living in poverty, “They accept, you know, maybe what we would regard as a terrible condition of life… They accept that – that that is their destiny.” The Indian belief that they are in the place they are supposed to be allows them to accept and cope with their living conditions and the situations they are placed in and it is this belief in destiny fused with the Western belief in controlling your own destiny that drives Jamal Malik’s pursuit of a better life. The pursuit of his fate begins shortly after being orphaned when young Jamal realizes that all he has to rely on for his survival is his older brother Salim (Madhur Mittal). While he and his brother flee the Hindi-Muslim conflict in his village that was responsible for the death of his mother, they come across a dirty lonely girl abandoned in the streets and from the moment Jamal’s eyes fall on this intriguing and innocent orphan named Latika (Freida Pinto), he knows she is the third musketeer he and his brother Salim have been missing.  He is quick to fall in love with her in the most innocent and childlike of ways and, though separated from her multiple times throughout his life, manages to find his way back to her even though as time goes on, it gets more and more dangerous to do so. Because Jamal knows he is destined to be with Latika, he refuses to give up his pursuit of her and it is this belief in destiny that drives his final desperate attempt to reunite with her by appearing on and determinedly winning “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.””Slumdog Millionaire” is a tale that enlivens the human spirit while teaching valuable and important lessons about human nature and one’s responsibility for his or her own actions. The personalities of each character remain consistent from childhood to adulthood, revealing the concept that actions taken as a child are often good indicators of the type of person someone will grow up to be.  This winner of four Golden Globes, including Best Director, Picture, Screenplay and Score truly deserves every award that comes its way. The roles were perfectly cast, the plot and screenplay indulged the audience with a bittersweet taste of life on the Mumbai streets, and the fusion of Indian beats and American hip-hop mirrored the audiences’ desire to run with Jamal, Latika, and “Slumdog Millionaire” away from life’s hardships and into the winner’s circle