By: Jessica Turgeon
Jamal Malik, a slumdog from Mumbai, is just one question away from winning 20 million rupees on India’s famous game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” How does he know all the answers? Did he cheat?
Slumdog Millionaire is a story of life, loss, and love. Starring Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, and Prem Kumar, and under the direction of Danny Boyle, the movie won Best Picture at the 2009 Academy Awards just two weeks ago.
In an interview with Ryan Seacrest at the Academy Awards, actor Irrfan Khan described why the movie connected with the audiences. “I think the style of the film, the elements which Danny has
used very intelligently, the Indian film elements, and the power of the story…” said Khan, who played the interrogating police inspector.
For many viewers, Slumdog has changed their perceptions of the Indian culture. The main character, Jamal Malik, suffered many a year in the slums of India with little to eat. After losing his mother in a raid on his village, he and his
brother were taken to an orphanage where the children were sold to slavery and tortured.
The display of poverty, slavery, child abuse, murder, and more has left some viewers unhappy with the representation and portrayal of Indian culture. They say it is unfair to the country to show it in such a negative light.
On the other hand, Slumdog Millionaire told a story of perseverance, love, and destiny. No matter how many times Malik lost Latika, his true love, he would always find her again. He went on the game show because he thought she would be watching. And she was.
Because he’s a slumdog, the game show host suspects him of cheating. A slumdog couldn’t possibly know all the answers.
The answer to every question could relate back to something that happened to Malik while growing up in the streets of India. The final question, which landed him 20 million rupees, was about the Three Musketeers. Malik and his brother Salim spent their childhood calling themselves Athos and Porthos.
The truth is, poverty exists everywhere. In this case, there was a story to be told and a lesson to be learned; follow your heart and never give up. The trials and tribulations Jamal Malik went through growing up in the slums of Mumbai made him stronger.
“I was shocked that even today that’s how people live,” said Lauren Burda, a sophomore at Saint Joseph’s College on Long Island.
Some of the child actors in the movie were actually taken from the slums of India to play the roles. The actors playing young Jamal, Salim, and Latika all live in poverty with their families, struggling.
Now that the movie has become so popular, those children will receive recompense for their hard work on the movie, and hopefully will be able to get out of the slums. They are currently enrolled in school, one benefit to being involved in the movie.
However, their families still need help. “I am very happy the movie is doing so well but it is making so much money and so much fame, and the money they paid us is nothing. They should pay more,” said the father of Rubina Ali, who played young Latika.
“I believe the film changed the way people view Indian culture because you can see universal emotions and events that can occur anywhere and to anyone,” Burda said.