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Slumdog Millionaire wins British film awards

Arthur J Pais | December 01, 2008 11:10 IST


A scene from Slumdog Millionaire.

Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, an art house hit in America and Canada [Images] and which will roll out of across the United Kingdom next month, grabbed a trio of top awards at the British Independent Film Awards.

The film, which is slowly adding extra theatres each week, was No 11 on the North American box-office chart for the weekend, earning $1.36 million, taking its total to $3.6 million. It is in 49 theatres, having added 17 over the weekend.

Many shows went full over the weekend, and at several theatres in New York, the audiences sought out Indian viewers, telling them the film had moved them considerably especially since they were watching the terrorist war on Mumbai .

The film, which has received some of the strongest reviews of the year, got another boost when Fareed Zakaria recommended it on Sunday at the end of his one hour long weekly show on CNN which focused on the Mumbai siege and related mayhem.

The film shot in Mumbai for most part and revolving around three slum kids and their grown up lives, was named the best film at the British awards, and Boyle walked off with the best director nod while London-based Dev Patel received the most promising newcomer award.

Patel, son of an immigrant Indian family in London [Images], is the only actor in the film who was not raised in India.

His only screen credit till Boyle spotted him about 18 months ago was in a few episodes of the raunchy British series, Skins. In his first movie role, he plays the street kid who manages to win the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

Among the challenges he faces in the film come from the egoistical show host (Anil Kapoor) and a tough police inspector (Irrfan Khan [Images]) who thinks the young man  is cheating on the show.

The competition in London was fierce and other top winning independent films included Hunger, a riveting portrait of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands; Michael Fassbender played Sands and was named the best actor. The harrowing but life affirming concentration camp The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas also received the best actress nod for Vera Farmiga.

Noting how the Boyle film began attracting attention first at Telluride and then at the Toronto International Film festival in September, the influential trade publication Variety said it 'has been generating frenzied buzz since it world premiere.'

Boyle, 52, has repeatedly said Mumbai for him offered the best of the contrasts in everything but he was most impressed with the resourcefulness and wit of the most vulnerable and marginalized of its citizens.

He shot the film which cost $15 million (his previous movie Sunshine, a flop, had cost $50 million) with high-definition digital video cameras. It  turned out to be a life-changing experience. Suddenly those 'odd words' like serendipity and destiny began to make sense, he said in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer last week.

'I had not had a lot of respect or time for those ideas, but you begin to appreciate [them] a bit,' he added. 'And serendipitous things did just happen on the film constantly. You think, how is that happening?'

He had not expected the film to be an audience pleaser in America, he admits, and now there are speculations that it could end its run with more than $30 million, and if it gets major Golden Globe and Oscar awards, it could fly beyond $40 million.

'We never made it (the film) with that (awards) in mind,' he has said. 'You can imagine, it's the furthest thing from your mind - although the Indian crew did used to say, because it's so far away from Hollywood and they love Hollywood, they'd go, 'Oh, this will definitely get an Oscar...' It was laughable."


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