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Formative Writing – Slumdog Millionaire Essay

The film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ by British born director Danny Boyle, gives a particular insight into life in India, and more specifically the city of Mumbai through the use of setting. It is this cultural backdrop presented through the perspective of foreigner that not only makes the film special, but also sparked a lot of debate whether the image revealed is an accurate portrayal of India. The film attempts to show the shocking and disturbing realities that occur in India, including poverty, injustice, slums, gang culture and prostitution. An example of one of these realities being depicted is in the scene where Jamal and Salim have been captured by the gangster Maman who plans to blind Jamal in order to make him a profitable beggar as he will evoke more sympathy if blind.

The setting of the scene is outside a remote building where the gangsters keep the children at night. These children are placed away from the rest of civilisation showing how they are unwanted and are outsiders. The lighting is minimal making it dark, eerie and scary which is also coupled with fast pace camera shots which are predominantly close-ups on things such as the acid, Maman’s face and one of his accomplices cracking his knuckles. All of these features work together in order to create an intimidating impression on the viewer as we don’t get the full perspective echoing how the children are being tricked and deceived.

Salim watches one of the boys eyes being burned yet the viewer doesn’t get to see this, instead the horror is echoed through Salim’s physical reaction as he vomits. It appears that the director wants to shock the audience and present the horrors present in Indian culture, yet he doesn’t show it physically being done, creating a barrier which shields the western audience at all times. Maman asks Salim whether he wants ‘the life of a Slumdog or a man?’ This gives the impression that all Indian men should want to be and are like Maman who is evil and corrupt, giving a negative representation of men in India.


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