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From streets to studio

PUBLISHED: 14:12 21 January 2009 | UPDATED: 17:11 16 August 2010

MAKING TRACKS: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto.

MAKING TRACKS: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto.

COMBINING a traditional rags-to-riches tale with a modern pop culture love story, Danny Boyle s Slumdog Millionaire is a vibrant, citrus-hued trip through the litter-strewn backstreets of Mumbai that s life-affirmingly uplifting and breathtakingly origina

COMBINING a traditional rags-to-riches tale with a modern pop culture love story, Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire is a vibrant, citrus-hued trip through the litter-strewn backstreets of Mumbai that's life-affirmingly uplifting and breathtakingly original.

The film follows the travails of Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a wide-eyed, dirty-faced street kid who is accused of cheating and interrogated by the police after implausibly making it through to the final question on India's version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

His explanation of how he came to know the answers takes us on a whistle-stop tour through his short but eventful life in which we learn about the death of his mother during the Bombay riots and his subsequent hand-to-mouth existence eking out a living on the streets with his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal).

Together, the two boys befriend a sweet orphan girl named Latika (Freida Pinto) but are forced to leave her behind when they escape from the clutches of exploitative gangster Maman (Ankur Vikal). Later, when Jamal insists they go back to find Latika they discover her working in a brothel but their rescue attempt goes wrong and Salim ends up staying to work for a group of seedy gangsters whose threats force Latika to remain with him. The heartbroken Jamal then applies for the game show as a way of reaching out for Latika, hoping that the exposure of being on the primetime show will lead to their reunion.

Boyle throws everything he has got at the film. There are kinetic montages, shaky handheld chases through the richly-coloured jumble of the Mumbai slums and the director even finds room for a Bollywood-style dance number.

Patel's mesmerising central performance provides the film with a deeply nuanced emotional core which combines beautifully with the cascading narrative and arresting visuals to create a modern-day fairy tale about true love, destiny and the power of hope.

Slumdog Millionaire is out in cinemas now.

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