Critical Review Of The Film Slumdog Millionaire

A famous movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, that has won eight Oscars, directed by Danny Boyle in 2008, surrounds a character named Jamal Malik, who was raised in slums of India and his destiny turned his life in such a way that he becomes king from rags of the slum by winning a show named, who wants to be a millionaire? This is not only a breathless and exciting story but also it is heartbreaking and exhilarating. It highlights the pitiable condition of people living in slums and their such hapless circumstances due to extreme poverty, generates empathy in the eye of viewers. It helps the viewers to understand different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fear of people living in slums. The film was praised for its exceptional artistic talent, consisting of noticeable music and memorable performances. Ashwini Haridkar and Laurel Mei Turbin reflects this movie as “a globalization-era fairy tale, Slumdog millionaire has exposed millions of viewers to a story of redemption amid grinding poverty and hardship in urban India”. Mitu Sengupta opines “The film earned effusive praise not only for being an enjoyable work of fiction, which it arguably is, but for its potential to give voice to poor and marginalized children such as ‘Jamal’, the ‘Slumdog’ born and raised in India’s slums”. After scrutinizing this movie, I opine that 'Slumdog Millionaire' bridges a slum boy with a different millionaire world of richness and physical threats that are faced by children along with the horrifying situations through which they underwent and extreme levels of poverty shown in the movie, had evolved some type of empathy in humans for reasons of survival. 

‘Slum’ word itself depicts the images of dirt, trash in one’s mind and the living in this kind of area will be quite difficult, so extreme hardship along with the hapless condition of people living there, is an empathy-arousing scene. Like at the starting of the movie, there was a scene in which one child was shown to be plunged in the latrine to get Amitabh Bachan’s autograph from Amitabh himself as these people are deprived of even the happiest moments of their life. Right from childhood, Jamal and Salim were unable to attend school for long due to financial circumstances. Boyle tried to show that the poor people do not want to steal from rich, it’s their circumstances that force them to do so. As in the movie, Jamal is portrayed as an honest boy, but later he is shown to steal belongings of rich when he is unable to earn bread for himself. Although, slum people do a lot of hardship for their livelihood but still they are only able to grab one meal of the day and fulfilling other things such as education of children is such an impossible thing for them.

The film is about the story of a boy named, Javed, who was born in slums of Bombay and live under the poverty line. At an early age, he became an orphan, and he lives with Salim, his elder brother and another orphan girl named Latika, a young female and all these three character’s life stories are heart touching, and has hit the box office score, grabbing the audience’s empathy. Jamal’s destiny pushed him towards a life-changing show ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ and he is just one step far away from winning show. But the host of show questioned his intelligence and ability to answer as everyone wonders that how can a boy who even did not have money for survival can know all the answers correctly. He was arrested by police where he described all his miserable journey and proved his innocence by telling that how his miserable life teaches him all the answers to the questions and his that miserable story is such a miserable that audience and everyone who sees it is, is unable to control his/her emotions. Thus, it is capable of grabbing empathy from a large number of people.

The gap between rich and poor made a host of the show as well as others to think that, Jamal, who was supposed to be a Slumboy, a poor chia-wallah, with no knowledge and common sense, how he can answer all questions correctly. This difference between rich and poor made others think that persons who are used to live in slums like Jamal are of no importance and thus, a question was put on his intelligence and knowledge. This shows that rich people thought that the poor people do not have any knowledge and are useless for anything and due to this, they become empathy seekers for the viewers of this movie.

Slumdog Millionaire presents money as something of great value that shows, one who has money in hand can be able to control others. It is also money, for which Salim and Jamal chooses different paths in their life. For the money, small children are shown to be kidnapped and further their eyes are taken out, as it is believed that blind beggars can earn more than others. It shows that the pursuit of having money can force anyone to do anything. In India, it has become a way to earn money by kidnapping children and forces them to do begging and further, the collected money from begging is taken away from them, and all these things are really heart throbbing that brings tears in everyone’s eyes.

This movie surrounds the survival battle of kids who constitute a large portion of the population that are only able to dream of a better life but cannot fulfill this dream of a better life. One among those kids, Jamal, gets the opportunity to achieve what he dreamt by entering show ‘who wants to be a millionaire’. “Jamal was able to answer all the questions as the richness of life experiences have provided him with unique, invaluable education, demonstrating the popular education principle that learning can happen anywhere and most often happens simply through the process of living”. This shows that the thing one learns from daily experiences is more valuable than the knowledge gained by other sources and learning does not necessarily need classroom and books, as learning can be done anywhere or anytime, even while doing household chores. But in the case of poor people, this kind of knowledge is not accepted in this world that is really heavy-hearted fact. 

Jamal fell in love with girl Latika. “At a cursory glance, the viewers can easily see that Latika portrays limited agency in whirlwind of fairy tale, a feature must unique to slum millionaire”. It shows that Latika had not any influence of herself over her destiny. She was an orphaned kid and she has accepted this as part of her life. From childhood, she was under the control of Javed, who was used to treat her in his cruel way. She is targeted throughout her life as also by Maman who treats her to earn money. This women’s life story made every women viewers to relate Latika to their own story that fill their eyes with tears. 

Violence can always be seen in the movie even when Jamal and Salim are not mature. One of the consequences of violence is the death of Jamal’s mother in anti-muslim riots along with many others, due to which he becomes an orphan. Jamal and Salim made it possible to save their lives by running away. “The experiences that have taught Jamal the answer to the first four questions are almost uniformly squalid or violent”[footnoteRef:5]. In one of the questions related to god, he was able to answer it due to the anti-muslim riots that he had experienced, and three other answers are also related to his experience. The riots shown in movie inspire all communities to realize that the riots based on communities hurt and harm a lot to every individual. 

The three main characters named Jamal, Salim and Latika are three musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, respectively. It is the most heart-warming story and had won 2008 Oscar and everyone who sees it, starts feeling empathy for people living in slums. Moreover, most of the scenes of the movie make viewers not only angry but emotional and empathetic as well. The main reason that why this movie earned so much is that it helps the people of all the world to understand the issues related to contemporary Indian society and help them to empathize and realize their duty towards these backward communities. It shows how two brothers choose different roads to derive success, one wants to have money, the other wants love and finally a good lesson and love wins. 

So, to conclude, I can say that this is a perfect movie to help people realize that how people live in such harsh conditions, and thus empathy develops within viewers towards slum people and due to this movie many NGOs and other people had come forward to help them. So, this is a perfect empathy-arousing movie.

16 December 2021
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