If you’re looking for something a bit different to start off the year, Slumdog Millionaire is the way to go.

Beautifully put together by director Danny Boyle, this superior romantic drama set in Mumbai casts a spell from the outset. Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is a teenage slum-dweller who is one question away from winning 20 million rupees on India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Unfortunately, those who run the show believe that due to the youngster’s impoverished background and lack of education he must somehow be cheating.

Malik is adamant it’s because of lessons learned during a tough upbringing that he’s able to get answers right.

To prove his point the young contestant talks about his childhood, and through a series of flashbacks we learn about Malik’s stormy relationship with his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) and his love for a girl forced into prostitution, Latika (Pinto).

Slumdog Millionaire is an impressively visceral piece of work.

Powerful visuals are matched by a storyline about the nature of fate that’s tense, uplifting and poignant, especially in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Yes, there are a few moments that are contrived, and it’s not exactly subtle, but the cast and director are in such scintillating form it doesn’t really matter. An absolute winner. PIERRE DE VILLIERS