In what is probably the best movie of the year (I guess we’ll have to wait for this year’s Oscars to validate that statement), eighteen year old Jamal Malik (played by Dev Patel) is shown as in the midst of an amazing answering streak on the Indian version of the television game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. As the plot evolves, showing flashes from his difficult life all along the way, Jamal finds himself only one correct question away from 20,000,000 Rupes. The flashes that make up most of the plot of this movie show an uncanny and inspiring glimpse into the Indian capital of Mumbai.
As the plot arrives at the 20,000,000 Rupe question, the game show has run out of time and has to pause for a day before resuming with the final question. During the break, however, some people, including those associated with the game show, question how someone like Jamal, a self confessed non-genius who grew up in the slums of Mumbai, can be doing so well on the show when others who are brighter, more educated and wealthier than him have failed to do so in the past. The plot has you asking the question of “is Jamal cheating?” Or is it purely luck that the game show host has asked him the questions to which he knows the answers? Seeing Jamal’s life journey to this point ultimately answers these questions. His life journey includes being orphaned at an early age when religious rioters kill his mother; growing up with an older brother, Salim, who was both his guardian/protector and antagonist; and having a relationship since childhood with another orphaned child, a girl named Latika (played in her older age by beautiful Indian supermodel Freida Pinto). Jamal’s motivation for being on the show provides some answers to his success…its because “it is written.”
Overall a highly inspiring movie that makes you leave the theater searching for your own life’s meaning. Five stars for sure.