Going for the big jackpot

Danny Boyle has shown an affinity for switching genres, and Nov. 12's "Slumdog Millionaire" couldn't possibly be more different from the English director's last film, the sci-fi "Sunshine."

Where Boyle ("Trainspotting," "28 Days Later") previously wrestled with zero gravity and end-of-the-world special effects, his new movie delivered an entirely different set of challenges: filming in one of the world's most populous cities, often in its densest and poorest slums, with a cast of many first-time actors.

For six months, Boyle and about a dozen colleagues traveled to Mumbai, India, to create "Slumdog Millionaire," a sometimes intense but ultimately buoyant account of an orphan's remarkable performance on the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," where the top prize is actually closer to $4 million.

"They are the fourth largest nuclear power in the world and yet they don't have working toilets," Boyle says of the startling disparity between India's haves and have-nots. "It has all of this emerging technology and no clean drinking water."

Those dramatic juxtapositions form the backdrop of Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy's ("The Full Monty") adaptation of Vikas Swarup's novel "Q and A." Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) may be enjoying an incredible run on the quiz show but the question he most wants answered is: What has become of his one true love, Latika (Freida Pinto)?

Boyle says the movie's message is not unlike the spirit of the people he encountered making it. "They have this amazing belief in faith and the organic nature of life," Boyle says. "That things will happen."

-- John Horn

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