There are a lot of movies I haven’t seen (and some I never plan to see) about which I have read A LOT about. Slumdog Milionaire is one of them. If you are a long-time Sahar’s Blog reader, you are probably not surprised since there was a lot of debate going around the central concepts of the movie that reflect my personal concerns and questions.
So of course I was curious to see what Maeve had to say about this movie.
Slumdog Millionaire — Love Overcomes Adversity
Slumdog Millionaire, 2008
Starring Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, and Frieda Pinto
(from Fox Searchlight Pictures):
The story of Jamal Malik (Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika (Pinto), the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show’s questions. Each chapter of Jamal’s increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show’s seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really doing on the game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out. At the heart of its exuberant storytelling lies the intriguing question of how anyone comes to know the things they know about life and love.
My Thoughts (SPOILERS!):
My first thought is this- if you haven’t seen this movie, do it, now. It is worth driving an hour to the nearest big city and going to an art-house theater, trust me. Also if you haven’t seen this movie, I warn you, this post may have spoilers. That being said if you want to continue reading I would be thrilled.
Now, onto the film. There are many spiritual themes in the movie, including love, destiny, and the need for the elimnation of poverty. The film focuses on the life of Jamal, a Muslim who grew up in the slums of Mumbai (may the city be in our thoughts and prayers due to the recent terrorism there). We learn of his story through his participation in a game show, and how the answers to the questions relate to periods throughout his life. Early on the film sets up the two major characters in Jamal’s life – his brother Salim, and his love Latika.
It is clear that he and his brother are tied together, two side of the same coin. Their teacher refers to them as “Athos” and “Porthos”, two of the three musketeers, that is how close they are. But, for how close they are they have radically different characters. Jamal is younger, more idealistic, hopeful, as well as pure, whereas Salim is older, an inherent schemer and survivor.
Early on we see their characters diverge when Salim locks Jamal in the outhouse for taking too long and costing Salim a customer. The biggest moviestar in India was landing in his private helicopter and Jamal is determined to see him, so he plunges through the hole to the vile muck below in order to escape. Covered in human waste he rushes to the crowd and his commitment is rewarded with an autograph. Jamal is ecstatic, but only briefly because Salim ends up stealing the prized signed photo and selling it for a buck. Devastated Jamal pleads to his mother, but there is nothing that can be done except to forgive his brother.
“Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.” ~Bahá’u’lláh
Their dependence on one another is solidified when acts of violence erupt in their slum as radical Hindus attack them for being Muslims and their mother is killed in the fray. This moment is incredibly sad, and more so when one thinks of all the unnecessary strife between people of different faiths when each religion holds similar principles such as the sanctity of human life and the golden rule. So often in the United States, especially post-9/11 we are shown the violence caused by radical Muslims, but I think this scene is incredibly important in showing that Muslims too can be victims of violence and persecution. If only we could all take to heart that:
“The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God’s holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife.” ~Bahá’u’lláh