The Case of 'Slumdog Millionaire' and the Endless Headlines

This week, we'll swap April for May -- making "Slumdog Millionaire" a nearly five-month-old release, something you'd never guess by the headlines. Not a week goes by that the '09 Best Picture isn't atop entertainment sites' "LATEST" queues and sidebars, for all manner of good and evil. Last week, we watched captivated as the father of the film's eight-year-old star Rubina Ali was accused of trafficking his daughter for a six-figure sum -- to undercover journalists. Then we heard that "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?", the game show that forms the basis of the film's storyline, will be revived on American televisions for a summer run -- perceived by some as a network nod to the film's popularity. And this week, we were elated to find out that Freida Pinto and Dev Patel are officially dating, per an exclusive interview that Patel's mother gave to the UK's Daily Mail. This all comes months after other, bigger "Slumdog" headlines and controversies, covering everything from the use of language in the film and the questioned compensation of its child actors, to its mixed reception in India or theglaring lack of fairytale endings in the real Mumbai slums, to the lack of Oscar nominations for its non-white stars.

What gives? The film grossed $300 million worldwide, but that's not extraordinary for a popular film or even a Best Picture. Just as many people saw "The Departed" as saw "Slumdog;" many, many more people saw "Gladiator" and "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King." Those films also nabbed top honors at the Academy Awards. And yet, their related headlines petered out around the time the Vanity Fair party closed its bar.

Maybe we can source this sustained enthusiasm to the Brits. It was their News of the World journalists, posing undercover as child-shoppers, who started the Rubina rumors. And their Daily Mail journalists who somehow coerced Mama Patel into revealing her son's relationship status. And their country that spawned the directorial and writing talent (half of it, at least) behind the film.

Or maybe it's China! The film's early April debut in that country netted the best opening (nearly $3 million) of a non-Chinese or non-American film in a decade, according to Box Office Mojo.

Or maybe it's just a captivating film.

What do you think?