It’s the moment of truth in the studio of India’s smash hit TV show ‘‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ Before a hushed studio audience, and standing under the blazing studio lights, 18-year-old Mumbai slum kid Jamal Malik faces his final question – and the chance to win a staggering 20 million rupees. 

The show’s host Prem Kumar has little sympathy for this rags-to-riches contestant.  Having clawed his own way up from the streets, Prem doesn’t like the prospect of sharing the Millionaire limelight, and refuses to believe that a kid from the slums could know all the answers. 

When the show runs out of time and breaks for the night, Prem already has the police waiting outside the studio to arrest Jamal, who he is sure must be cheating. 

Interrogating the contestant through the night, the Inspector of Police finds that Jamal is as confused as anyone else by how far he has come in the contest.  They revisit the questions one by one; Jamal explains how he came to know each answer.  As he does so, the extraordinary story of his young life begins to emerge. 

Jamal’s is a story of modern India. Growing up in the slums of Mumbai, as a young boy his mother is killed in a religious uprising.  Jamal finds himself living by his wits on the streets with Salim, his older brother, and Latika, an orphaned girl Jamal comes to care for, and as they grow older, to love. 

Jamal’s picaresque childhood, lived out on the poorest fringes of the city doesn’t tarnish his good-hearted nature.  But his brother Salim hungers for wealth and power.  Tensions and rivalries between the brothers intensify as they grow into young adults, until a betrayal forces the three friends apart, and Jamal loses Latika, just as he realises he truly loves her.   

When he finds her again, things have changed irrevocably.  Salim is working for a violent gangster – and this gang lord has married Latika.  Jamal puts everything on the line to free the love of his life, only to lose her, and his brother, again. 

Despite himself, gradually the hostile Inspector is drawn into Jamal’s story – and starts to believe that this ‘slum dog’ is actually telling the truth. In a final exchange we learn the real reason behind Jamal’s decision to appear on the show in the first place. Finally convinced, the Inspector releases him to go back onto the show, to answer the final question. 

Overnight the story of Jamal’s dream run on the show and his subsequent arrest has turned him into a media sensation.  On the other side of the city, Salim and Latika see Jamal on the news. 

Shocked into conscience, Salim sets Latika free from her violent husband’s imprisonment, knowing full well that this seals his own fate.  Latika drives across the city to the studio, while Jamal returns to the hot seat for the final question, but she is caught up in Mumbai’s gridlocked traffic. 

As the whole of Indai watches, breathless, Jamal asks if he can phone a friend, He dials the only number he knows – his brother’s mobile phone.  The phone, which Salim gave to Latika for her escape rings… and Latika picks up. The lovers are, at last, together.



January 09, 2009


Danny Boyle & Loveleen Tandan


Simon Beaufoy (screenplay) & Vikas Swarup




Crime, Drama, Romance




120 minutes