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Danny Boyle's Movie Slumdog Millionaire: Analyzing Jamal's Experience

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Slumdog Millionaire is a film that is based in India and surrounds the life of the main character Jamal Malik. Jamal has had a very experiential life that has made him wise. He is a boy in love, and life leads him to compete on game show, for his woman.

At the beginning of the movie we immediately meet Jamal, he is being tortured physically to confess how he had gotten so far on the game show, which is a trivia one similar to jeopardy, and this torture is being done by what appear to be some kind of institutional authority, the cops. If he has cheated then it is fraud. Eventually the torture turns into interrogation because Jamal is so smart and honest the authorities have stopped pressing him for the answerers they want to hear and switch over to listening to Jamal’s story. His story proves to be of great intrigue, it involves his whole life and how he unconventionally stooped across all the knowledge that he needed to be successful on the show.

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Jamal has an abusive older brother, Kalim, we learn this once Jamal starts telling his story. Kalim is jealous of his little brother, this is perfectly illustrated when Jamal gets an autograph from his idol, Abitah, and Kalim steals and sells the autograph to spite him. Another example occurs later in the story after we meat Latika, the girl who Jamal has been in love with all his life, it seems pretty obvious that Latika gets raped by Kalim. While they are growing up, Kalim calls all the shots and is bossy not only on Jamal but he is this way with his peers too. Kalim is the big brother and he wants everyone to know that he’s the boss and isn’t kind on his brother being more amiable than him.

Kalim seems to feel that his abusive actions are justified or okay because he is as he put is early on, the new elder in the family. When the two boys are young, after the autograph incident, they are orphaned because people who believe in Allah ravage their town and in that their mother is murdered, Jamal witnessed this. Slumdog Millionaire is a work depicting the lives of children without mothers or real parents. As the audience we learn that the orphan life is a dangerous life where the children are vulnerable. There’s a scene in the movie where Jamal is giving a tour in the slums for some tourists, when they come back from the tour, the tourists car has been robbed in parts, the cop thinks it’s okay to just brutally beat Jamal. At this time Jamal screams at the tourist, “you wanted to see a real side of India”. Had Jamal’s mother been alive for that she may have provided some protection in that situation, had she been there Jamal would not be hustling for money.

Because Jamal, Kalim and Latika are all orphans, they are faced with adult like freedom while still being children. At this point being an orphan they have to face the responsibility of deciding what kind of person they will become without the guidance of parents. The work illustrates that anything can happen, the orphan can grow into a kindhearted man like Jamal, become a delinquent like Kalim or end up in a controlling submissive environment like Latika. This is significant because the need for guidance and protection of a parent is clearly made obvious through means of all the suffering the children experience.

Personal Reflection

I chose to watch this film because I’d heard of it for years and never seen it. I was also intrigued that there would be someone who had grown up in the slums be so wise and know so many things without a formal education. Having been in foster care most my life the story has some significance to me because it allowed for me to recognize how ridiculously lucky and privileged I have been all my life in comparison to orphan children in India in the movie and the world.

The information in this film confirms that parents’ interaction is an essential need for children emotionally in order for them to be happy and sheltered from evil while they don’t need to be a part of it. The experiences these children have had help us see how they see, the whole film itself is about how Jamal is kind hearted and mostly independent even though he could have easily become evil like his brother, or pretty much someone’s pet like Latika. These children were all in the same place and the same time but then things changed and they were entirely different people, the film is very clear on letting the audience know that the perspective of children is different than ours. I believe that this would be a great film for the youth to watch when they feel overwhelmed in the system, not as a scare or to be mean but just as something that could help boost confidence and appreciation for their particular lives in children that are part of the foster youth.


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