Sunday, January 18, 2009


This is a terrific film. Terrific. If you haven't seen it, go right now. Slumdog Millionaire is simply the best film I have seen in a long time - from its visceral, barnstorming opening, to its gut-wrenching feel-good ending, it is a terrific film.

I was asked, "what kind of film is it?" and I found the question hard to answer. There is a love story, but it's not a romance. There is a police investigation, but it's not really a crime story. There are gangsters, but it's not a gangster film. Rags to riches? Maybe, but the riches are not especially the 20 million rupees on offer.

What kind of film is it? A really good one.

As a TV quiz show winner, it did strike a chord of realism with me. The reason Dev Patel knows the answers to the questions the slimy quiz master poses him lies in various experiences of his life which we see unfolding during the course of the film. For me, I think the first question that took me to my slender Weakest Link winnings was a similar experience - though no gangsters, police cells or strangely attractive Indian dancing girls were involved.

The night before I was due to drive to London to film the show, I discovered that the collar on my blue shirt was frayed. I couldn't possibly wear it on TV. But to win that show you have to wear a blue shirt - so no-one notices you against the set. At the time my finances were particularly weak (I was still paying off the debt of my Cambridge year) and buying a new shirt was not in my budget. Plus, the only place open at that time was Tesco. So I went to the store at Upper Boat, found a light blue shirt, stared hard at its £3.50 price tag, and said to myself: "Well, you have to speculate to accumulate."

Cut to the studio. Anne Robinson all in black stands behind her swivelling podium and rounds on me in the first set of questions. No-one wants to go out first. "Marcus," she snarls, "you have to what to accumulate?"

On the video you can see me smile slightly as inwardly I am fingering my cheap Tesco shirt and screaming out buy one of these.

"Speculate," I reply.

Watch Slumdog. It's a fantastic film. And you'll see why that memory came back to me.

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