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Slumdog Millionaire: Lifestyles of the Broke and Unknown In 2009, the Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year was awarded to Christian Colson for the movie Slumdog Millionaire. This is the success story of an uneducated youth, raised in slums of India, who was granted the opportunity to compete in the Indian version of the popular US TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. In the end our main character, Jamal Malik (played by Dav Patel), wins the 20 million rupees.
A big question wondered by the game show host is how a young man from the slums knows the answers to every question when other worldly and scholarly men, in high ranking positions were never able to answer every question. By chance each question he is asked manages to pertain to an event of importance in his life. With every question we flashbacked to a time in Jamal’s life where something happened to him and he picked up some fact along the way.
Coincidentally those memories of the moments in his life would be the answers he would use to change his life.
Most of the experiences depicted in the film of Jamal’s life, starred a young girl named Latika (played by Freida Pinto). She became not only the love of his life but also his motivation that drove him to play the Who Wants to be a Millionaire in the first place. “Was she pretty? … I guess not. ” –Police Inspector “The most beautiful woman in the world.
”—Jamal Malik “He means “the bitch of the slums. ” [Laughs] –Constable His integrity and honesty are called into question the further he advances in the game.
A main focal point of this movie was Jamal’s social class status, his gender among his social class and the comparative to other classes. The background story to this movie also shows the status of Latika’s gender in her race and social class in comparison to the opposite gender in any other class. It is easily concluded that woman are treated far differently than men are in this societal class and race. From the early ages of childhood to the years of becoming a young woman, this movie shows how women are treated as materials to be bought, sold, and kept.
At best a woman could hope for is to be married and maintain a household. In the beginning of the movie the character Latika is shown as a young girl around nine years of age. Growing up and living in the “Slums” of India as an orphan she is ignored by the citizens in the town. Those more fortunate people pass by leaving her unclean, unsheltered, and unnoticed day in and day out. She is left to raise and provide for herself on the streets of India. That is until she meets the other main characters, Jamal and Salim.
Again her role would change when they later encounter by the character Maman (played by Ankur Vikal). In every poor man’s story there must be a wealthy character to compare the poor man’s misfortunes against. In this movie that character is portrayed by Maman. He is a well to do “business man” in India. In his life he has found a way to make money from exploiting the orphaned impoverish children that line the streets of the India slums. While in his care Latika is treated as a servant worker. She is put to work every day, pan-handling pedestrians and motorist at every given opportunity.
Along with the other young girls Maman as in his employ, she is to take turns carrying and tending to the infants he possesses. Maman provides her with a bit more protection than he does the young boys, stopping them from rough housing or hitting her. However, he does this with the pure intention of protecting his investment. He maintains his property that is her so that in the future he may benefit from her female assets. Unknown to Latika, she has yet another role change in her future In this film, females are depicted as possessions instead of as equals in India, even more for lower class women.
A direct quote from the movie helps to incorporate this idea. “You really thought you could just walk in and take my prize away? Have you any idea how much this little virgin is worth, bhen chod? ” – Maman. Once Jamal and his older brother, Salim, have located Latika they have it in their minds to rescue her from Maman, the man who has enslaved and subjugated her since early she was a child. He has taken Latika as a possession, to be used and sold for his profit. Ever since she was a child, Maman has raised (a term used loosely), clothed, sheltered, and fed her.
As a child she was ordered to pan-handle along the streets for monies to pay the way for these “luxuries”. Now as a blossoming young teen he intends to use her as a prostitute, using her untainted body as a way in to making money. Proving that a woman is only as good as the price a man will pay. Even Jamal’s older brother, Salim, would end up treating Latika with this same mentality. After rescuing her from the Maman’s whore house, Salim sells Latika to another crime boss of India.
Salim would take gainful employment under this man as one of his most trusted protectors in exchange for Latika’s companionship and servitude for his lifetime. As for the ideas, stereotypes, and personalities illustrated in this movie regarding Jamal’s character there are many. As a young boy he is began attending grammar school. Becoming unexpectedly orphaned, by the unfortunate slaughter of their mother, the boy’s lives were taken to the drab streets of India. Sleeping in tunnels and junk yards, they are soon approached by the “business man” Maman.
Being taken in by Maman they are expected to pull their weight. He puts them to the same work as the other children, including Latika, as street beggars. Taking an interest in Salim’s spirit, Maman assigns him the task of managing the children while they work in the city. The young boys owned by Maman are also expected to focus on their singing abilities. This would be Maman’s way of benefiting off the boys once they have matured losing their profitable innocent disposition. “Blind singers make double. You know that. ” – Jamal Malik “And what happened to the girl?
They blinded her too? ” – Police Inspector “They had other plans. Though it took me a long, long time to find out. ” – Jamal Malik Once the young boys have developed an adequate singing voice they are to move on to their next role for Maman. With no remorse, you see Maman reward the accomplished singers by intentionally blinding them. The young men from the slums of India serve no other purpose to Maman after this stage. One idea interpreted about Jamal’s character is that he is not capable of having the learned knowledge to answer the game show questions correctly.
Growing up in the slums of India would not have given him privilege to a higher education of any kind. In fact, he would be lucky to have received any formal education at all though out his destitute life. Being born into a life of poverty should have only left him with the future potentials of becoming a drug dealer, a thief, a con artist, or a panhandler. The niceties of a big house featuring expensive furnishings or even the comfort of a stable residence and three square meals a day were presumably out of his reach. “Jamal Malik is one question away from winning 20 Million Rupees. How did he do it?
Four answer choices are presented: (A) He cheated, (B) He’s lucky, (C) He’s a genius, and (D) It is written. ” This award winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire, has most certainly shown the viewer many examples of the lifestyles and behavior deemed morally and culturally acceptable in India. Impressively, every character casted exposes a side of both the male and females genders among both the upper and the lower classes. For the female gender in the lower societal class, Latika educates the viewer on the character role responsibilities, expected behaviors, and life accomplishment possibilities.
In India women are view as a piece of property to be bought and sold. Consequently, all the events and happenings in her life were designated by her male owners. It is intriguing to see how the gender roles differ so greatly from our own western culture to that of east India. The character Jamal, portraying the humbled male in the lower societal class, must overcome the stereotypical ideas being a “slum dog” has subjected him to. The movie also shows the male upper societal class character, Maman.
A few features representing the upper class are derived from Maman’s attitude, look, and way of living. His introduction points out the lack of quality in those such as Latika, Salim, and Jamal. “Doctors… Lawyers… never get past 60 thousand rupees. He’s won 10 million…. What the hell can a slum dog possibly know? ” – Police Inspector ”The answers. I knew the answers. ” – Jamal Malik Leading the many stereotypical ideas in this movie is that of the game show host, insistent upon his reservations that Jamal must be a cheater.
Stereotyping Jamal as only a “slum dog” and ought to be void of any higher knowledge leads to the game show host’s theory that Jamal is more than likely cheating. Being a “slum dog”, Jamal cannot give a list of books he has read or classes he has taken to explain how he knew the answers to the difficult game show questions. Instead he begins telling the story of his life and all the particular events he has been through. This movie shows us that stereotypes based on one’s place of up-bringing and societal class are just as often proved wrong as they are proved correct.
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