Getting to the Bottom of Slumdog Millionaire

Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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Getting to the Bottom of Slumdog Millionaire

"The answers… I knew the answers," Jamal muttered to the policemen. From the beginning Slumdog Millionaire sends home a central point in the film. Slumdog Millionaire is set in India, and centered around an orphan named Jamal from the slums who is on the television show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?". He is reliving his past to help show that he knew all the answers to the questions on the show. He has flashbacks to many life events, that not only were horrific to simply imagine happening to any small boy, but the lack of action by the police is truly terrifying.

Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle, is a movie that is hard to understand all at one time, until you reflect on it. There are themes around every corner and messages throughout every scene. There are, in fact, too many to count, which in turn makes it harder to narrow it down to the most important message, or most prominent theme. Throughout the movie the viewer comes across prominent messages like destiny, determination, triumph, as well as loss. Though the one that is the most prominent is the greed, corruption, and misuse of power that occurred in the film and was noticeable in just about every single scene.

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Toward the beginning of the movie, one of the first scenes demonstrates the corruption in India at the time- and especially the slums. The scene began with Hindus raiding the slum young Jamal called home and starting to kill people at random because they were Muslim. They even killed Jamal's mother. Then Jamal, his brother Salim, and their acquaintance Latika, ran away. At first, they went to a crowd of policemen playing cards, but received no help and were told to go away. They then must make their own way through the mayhem, and the police do nothing, even when they see the attack. This not only demonstrates how easily raids can happen, but it also shows the corruption of the police. Though they could see it happening, right before their eyes the officers did nothing about it. Instead, they just allowed the citizens to fight for themselves, and watch people they love die. This corruption wasn't just focused on India, either, but the idea was brought to the attention of the world when this movie was released.

Though corruption is one of the reoccurring messages of this movie, greed and money are other very noticeable messages. There are many situations that one must watch in disbelief because it seems impossible for people to that harsh. One main example of this is the make shift "orphanage" that the three kids were sent to. Even more gruesome was the methods used there. Not only were the many children taught to beg and steal, they were shown ways of making themselves look weaker to get more. The masters used the children to get what they wanted and make more money for themselves. They would even go to the extremes of burning out children's eyes because blind singers made double. At first one wouldn't think that this was greed, but pure torture. Yet looking back at it, one can see that they forced the kids to go out and beg, and even when they did well the owners would hurt the children so they could make more money. This also shows the ugly side of the world that we turn a blind eye to more often then we'd like to think.

In America, we make sure that no one takes too much control, and if they do we as a population, overrule them. That can't be said for the rest of the world. Slumdog Millionaire is able to show multiple situations in which someone misuses their power because they knew they could do it without being punished. Jamal's own brother, Salim, takes control over him. Salim is even able to force Jamal out of his life, even to the extreme of putting a gun up to his head. Jamal is also the victim, when the host of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" overused his power to suspect Jamal of cheating and call the police to take him away. Even the policemen misuse their power to torture and question Jamal to no end, even though he did nothing wrong. He knew the answers yet, they didn't believe him. This shows that no one is above misusing the power they're given.

Slumdog Millionaire is able to portray very difficult topics and themes, but does so in a way that is entertaining and interesting. The core issues that develop into themes are easy to identify because these topics are still painfully prevalent in our world today. Greed, corruption, and misuse of power are still things that we are noticing and trying to fix in today's world. Danny Boyle makes it easier to watch, while incorporating some hard truths, and does it in a very relatable way by using all stages of life to explain them as they are affected. The narrative driving those hard truths is a powerful, gripping love story that gives the viewer no choice but to become attached to the characters. Overall, the film had every aspect it needed to demonstrate its themes and make them resonate long after the credits rolled.

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Getting to the Bottom of Slumdog Millionaire. (2018, Apr 08). Retrieved from

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