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Movies are precisely a vivid account of real life situation, which is dissimilar to a written work. It is evident that every staged movie has its own intention, which is mainly to pass information to the target audience. Consequently, the audience perception of the subject, being addressed in the movie, changes. Similarly, Slumdog Millionaire portrays the Indian culture, though quite small but a considerable part. From the name of the movie, one can conclude that it is acted in slums of Mumbai. It is a story of a slum orphan who survives brutally and rises from rags to riches (Boyle, 2008). Minor thief, stuck in dreadful poverty, Jamal makes his way and succeeds. A keen observation into this movie will reveal how traditional this movie is underneath, implying that this film bridges the two Indian societies, both traditional and modern. India is one of the developing nations, characterized by the ever-increasing slum dwellers. Slumdog millionaire is a clear illustration of slum lifestyle in the modern lifestyle, bringing forth urban poverty in India. The Indian Diaspora had critical reception towards the movie; this is attributed to the rich Indian culture that is vastly recognized globally. It fetched both positive and negative response across India and the entire world. The film can be compared to those who assist in fighting for the poor. Additionally, it has been an area under discussion to academic criticism among scholars (Glover, 2001). Conversely, it is most likely to impart negative attitudes to slum dwellers, by supporting policies that deprive of slum dwellers self-respect, power and dignity. This paper evaluates the content in the movie and the culture of the region in all areas.
The action takes place in Mumbai, where Jamal Malik, a slum dweller, contests in “Who want to be a millionaire?” As he nears winning the prize, he is detained and questioned by the police. He is suspected of cheating since he knows all the answers. Jamal’s story with his brother, Salim, is revealed through flashback. At the age of five, he acquired an autograph of a star, which Salim later sells. Later, during the Bombay riots, his mother passed away and as they flee away, they meet Latika, another slum dweller. Salim is reluctant to take her, but Jamal finally convinces him. The three team up with Maman, who is a gangster and manipulates street children to become beggars. At some point, Jamal and Salim survived by hawking goods in train, pick-pocketing, dishwashers, and pretending to be tour guides at Taj Mahal, which vividly shows how street kids struggle to survive due to neglect of the society. Latika was trained to become a prostitute by Maman, and the brothers saved her, this portrays a rotten society that hosts the street kids. Jamal who had earlier lost contact with Malik makes another contact with Latika, when features in a show who wants to be a millionaire, intentionally knowing that Latika watches the show. He makes it to the final despite the hostility of the show’s host, who subjects him to police interrogation, accusing him of cheating. He is finally allowed back to the show because he gives honest explanations. Salim asks Latika for forgiveness, gives him his car keys, and asks him to go to Jamal.
Immense number of problems characterizes slums socially and physically. The most outstanding one is the lack of improper housing. The large population that resides in slums is a factor that leads to the emergence of immoral conduct in the society. Latika is a teenage girl, forced to engage in prostitution due to poverty. Indian tradition shows that high-class prostitution existed in the form of celestial demigods, also known as menaka rambha (India Dept. of Culture, 2002). Ancient times described prostitutes as feminine charms. Even historical Indian rulers like pandavas had many prostitutes during their reign. It is quite evident that prostitution is familiar in India, according to their myths, and slumdog borrows the idea to educate the entire Indian society on the dangers of prostitution.
There is an aspect of human manipulation and lack of self-respect, as portrayed by the film. Maman trains street kids to be beggars for his own selfish reasons. People like Maman represent the outside world that sees an opportunity in slum dwellers and seizes it to become wealthy. In the film, he trains Jamal and Salim to become beggars but they eventually escape after realizing they were being used. Therefore, it reveals the social manipulation that is rooted in the Indian culture. Additionally, slum dwellers are engraved in poverty because they are willing to do anything to earn a living, which, further, aggravates the rise of unsocial human behavior in the society. The movie is a typical representation of slum life not only in India but also in the entire world. It shows what this people believe in and how the outside world perceives them.
Humanity is the ability to allow others to be first and put aside your own self-interest, feeling other people’s pain (Glover, 2001). A modern world, which is changing at remarkably fast pace, has resulted to people, failing to understand themselves and even lack concern to study themselves and others. Humans are animals with matchless capability; people can think, understand and even express themselves. The Indian culture seems to have lost its humanity; the film depicts this from the way Maman handles street kids. Salim also lacks the virtue of understanding, though he constantly asks for forgiveness from his brother whenever he wrongs him. Jamal is viewed among Indians who are human, despite the fact that he loves Latika, he wishes well to her (Glover, 2001).
Another clear characteristic of the Indian community brought forth in the film, is hard work and struggle. Presently, India is one of the countries that are experiencing advancement in economic development, as shown by the increase inventions in technology and medicine. Jamal tries hard, until he makes his way up to be recognized by the world, his honesty proves him innocent and earns a chance to get back to the show, confirming his high level of intelligence.
In conclusion, India has a diverse and rich culture, perceived differently across the universe. The film was controversial to Indians who felt it was negatively influencing their culture. Some members of the public criticized the release of the film, saying that it exaggerates the poverty in India. Just as any other developing nation, India faces social problems similar to the film content; therefore, the situation in India is most likely to be in other third world countries. Prostitution is one of the significant social problems in the society. Prostitution erodes humanity and makes immorality thrive at a faster rate. It is a culture that should be abandoned and the state needs to improvise regulations that curb prostitution. Self-esteem needs to be cultivated among the society that trades on dangerous grounds of human and social manipulation for self-gain. The improvement in India’s economy is attributed to the hard work of Indians, as portrayed by Jamal in the film. The film is a comprehensive image of how the Indian culture is viewed by the world and serves to expose the weakness of the Indian culture.