Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire Study Guide

Slumdog Millionaire is a British film from 2008, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and was one of the biggest hits of 2008. It won eight Academy Awards in total, including Best Picture and Best Director. Its Oscar-winning screenplay by Simon Beaufoy was based on the book Q&A by Vikus Swarup, and with Boyle’s trademark kinetic visual flair, the story of the young "slumdog" Jamal is realized in larger-than-life tones.

The vivid colors, infectious music, and the non-linear construction that reaches backward and forwards in time to bring its many narrative threads together into a coherent whole has all the excitement of a music video. Additionally, the film has been lauded for its thematic depths and heartfelt performances. The story follows Jamal Malik answering to the police after they accuse him of cheating on the gameshow Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. While the authorities cannot fathom how a "slumdog" could possibly have fared so well on the trivia show, Jamal's story confirms that he learned each answer based on his own highly unique personal journey. It is as though the game show was tailor made to fit his individual experience, an extension of his biography, something that is "written," as an early subtitle suggests.

In addition to taking home many trophies at the Academy Awards, Slumdog Millionaire also swept the British Oscars and the Golden Globes. While critically acclaimed and a box office hit in the English-speaking world, those living in the country in which it is actually set—India—were not nearly as unanimous in heaping praise. The more vocal critics complained about its Anglo-centric approach to telling a story about Indian citizens and culture. Others pointed out that Slumdog Millionaire was somewhat ironically the most successful “Bollywood movie” outside of India that was not actually a product of Bollywood.