I talked to Danny Boyle on October 24, 2008, as the presidential campaign was in its final stretch, perhaps that was the reason politics was so much on Boyle’s mind during our talk about his latest film, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. From the innately American impulse to root for the underdog, to the practice of democracy in the most populous country to practice it, India. There was also time for a consideraton of production numbers, traditional Indian cinematic tropes, and the relative nature of intelligence.
Danny Boyle’s brilliant new film, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, is the improbable tale of how innocence triumphs against the most seemingly impossible odds. It begins and ends on the fateful night when Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a former slum resident, plaything of an indifferent world, and current tea-boy in Mumbai, is about to answer a question on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. The right answer will win him 20 million rupees. The wrong answer will strip him of the 10 million he’s already won. The thing is, Jamal could care less about the money. That’s his brand of innocence. After suffering poverty, the exploitation by strangers and his own wayward brother, and a series of blows literal and metaphorical that have rained down on Jamal more or less continuously in the course of his life, he still believes in destiny and that his own destiny is a girl named Latika.
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is a perfect rhapsody that within its confines of one seemingly small life, finds the key to life itself. Smart, entertaining, wildly romantic and bitingly gritty all at the same time, its haunting images, low humor, and giddy delight in true love make for a film that is one of the best of this or any other year.