Release Year: 2008
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Simon Beaufoy, Vikas Swarup (book)
You shouldn't need to ask the audience to determine why Slumdog Millionaire is considered one of the defining films of the 21st Century. (It's not just because it nabbed a Best Picture Oscar… and seven other Oscars besides.)
You shouldn't need to use the 50/50 lifeline to figure out how Slumdog Millionaire broke box office records worldwide. (It's not just because it has the best soundtrack since Pulp Fiction.)
We guess you can phone a friend to talk more about this movie… but that's really up to you.
Just like the city in which it takes place, Slumdog Millionaire is full to bursting with sound, color, culture, and dramatic juxtaposition. (Yup: Slumdog Millionaire does not take place in Bridgeport, Connecticut.)
This flick runs the gamut of comedy, drama, melodrama, thriller, and romance, exploring issues from poverty and social status to destiny, morality, forgiveness, and love. It tackles crime, and corruption, wealth and power.
And—oh yeah: it also explores one man's backstory while he's being tortured by the cops, while he's a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. How much more nail-bitingly intense can you get?
Through each question on the show, we learn a new piece of protagonist Jamal Malik's fascinating past, piecing together the puzzle of his incredible life story as he goes from being an orphan in the Mumbai slums to a rich man who wins the heart of the love of his life.
Of course, this story has its gritty side—but you probably figured that out from the key phrases "tortured by the cops," "being an orphan," and "Mumbai slums." The film pulls no punches exploring the realities of slum life, in its staggering poverty, corruption, hardship, and heartbreak.
But at the end of the day, Slumdog Millionaire is not a story of despair and hopelessness. Instead it's a tale of resilience. It's empowering and uplifting… and super-crazy romantic.
In many ways Slumdog can be seen as a Dickens novel for the 21st Century, a rousing rags-to-riches tale for a multicultural, globalizing world.
And it's also a testament to our world changing for the better. Now that Hollywood isn't just only interested in stories about white kids who live in Western countries (although we've got a looong way to go before we get enough POC representation), movies like Slumdog can be made, succeed wildly… and force ear-worms like the Oscar-winning "Jai Ho" into our daily shower-singing regimen.
Slumdog Millionaire is no stranger to accolades. It cleaned up at the Oscars in 2009, winning eight total awards from Best Picture all the way down to sound mixing.
It's been praised by audiences and critics alike, from all over the world, as an inspiring, heartfelt, and extremely well crafted film. It has been no slouch financially either, grossing over $378 million—or about 25 billion Indian rupees—since its release.
But the most important reason to care about Slumdog Millionaire has—weirdly enough—less to do with what people love about this film, and more about all the controversy it stirred up.
Here are a few of the big issues:
And that "but" is where the question "Why Should I Care" gets answered…or at least complicated. Because there's a rebuttal for each of those talking points listed above.
Check it out:
We know: that's a lot of issues. That's a lot of controversy. And hey—that's the point. This is a controversial film, which is exactly why you should care. And you should also care about the big controversial questions it poses.
Slumdog Millionaire won a grand total of eight Academy Awards, tied for fourth all time. Not a bad showing. (Source)
Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, the actor from whom Jamal receives the autograph at the beginning of the film, is the real-life host of the Indian Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. (Source)
Director Danny Boyle reportedly lied to the production company about how much Hindi was going to be used in the film, after they told him to limit the inclusion of the language. (Source)
Fox Searchlight Presents…
The production company's webpage for the film.
Vikas Swarup's novel on which Slumdog Millionaire is based.
Ebert Gives "Two Thumbs Up"
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert writes a glowing review of Slumdog Millionaire.
Check out this piece written by screenwriter Simon Beaufoy about his inspiration for writing the film.
In this piece, a reporter from The Guardian speaks with Indian author Vikas Swarup, author of Q&A—the novel from which Slumdog Millionaire was adapted.
Danny Boyle Discusses "Destiny"
Director of Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle explains the idea of destiny as it relates to the film, and to India in general.
Dev Behind the Scenes
Watch leading man Dev Patel take on the press day for Slumdog Millionaire.
Dev on Dave
Check out Dev Patel's appearance on Dave Letterman's Late Show following the release of the film.
Slumdog Millionaire Complete Soundtrack
If you're in need of some great tunes, look no further.