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Major industry awards put Slumdog in lead for Oscar

With the entire cast of Slumdog winning the top prize at the 15th Screen Actors Guild awards, film forged ahead in the race for the best picture Oscar.

entertainment Updated: Jan 27, 2009 18:57 IST

With the entire cast of Slumdog Millionaire winning the top prize at the 15th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, the rags-to-riches saga of a Mumbai slum dweller, the film has forged ahead in the race for the best picture Oscar.

"It was overwhelming enough to be nominated. But to win this is unbelievable," said Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, receiving the "best ensemble cast" award on behalf of the actors at Los Angeles' Shrine Exposition Centre.

"They deserve this award. They set our performances," he said. "It's the children who've done it, not us." The film, apart from the main players, involves a host of amateur young actors in Mumbai's slums.

"It is historic where India is concerned," Kapoor said.

Another Bollywood star, Irrfan Khan, British Indian Actor Dev Patel and newcomer Freida Pinto took the stage with Kapoor to receive the prize from Anthony Hopkins. Patel who plays the protagonist, and Pinto his ladylove also introduced the film clip.

The Oscar-nominated film tells the heart-warming story a young man from the slums of Mumbai who risks it all for love and a shot at instant wealth as a contestant on the Indian version of the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

The SAG win comes after the film took home the top prize from Producers Guild of America Saturday and two weeks after it won the Golden Globe award for best drama. The film has been nominated for 10 Oscars, including for best picture.

The top award from the Producers Guild of America, or PGA, goes to the movie's producer, in this case Christian Colson, whose previous feature credits consist of three relatively obscure thrillers.

Meanwhile, following its 10 Oscar nominations and expansion into more theatres, Slumdog Millionaire has jumped into the North American Top Five for the first time in its 11-week run with its weekend gross soaring by 80 percent to $10.55 million.

At $7,4770, it also generated the highest per-theatre average for any film release during the Jan 23-25 weekend.

Now running in 1,411 theatres across America, up 829 from last weekend, the film has to date grossed a total of $55.92 million, according to the movie website

The Producers Guild award is considered an important bellwether for Oscar success as its members make up an important constituency of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Oscars.

In its first 19 years, 12 of the PGA's top film picks went on to win the Academy Award for best picture, including last year's champion, No Country for Old Men, although the producers missed the mark for three straight years starting in 2005.

First Published: Jan 27, 2009 18:55 IST