Slumdog Millionaire is a movie adaptation of the book Q & A by Vikas Swarup.  It revolves around Jamal and his brother Salim, who grow up in the Juhu area of Mumbai. Jamal (played by Skins Dev Patel) and Salim are raised by their mother and are slumdwellers, inhabiting tin shacks and living in poor conditions, poor housing coupled with lack of sanitation and utilities such as water and electricity.

The movie begins with Jamal as a contestant on the show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and within reach of winning 2 Crore when he is arrested on suspicion of cheating and duped into a police vehicle by the envious host of the show played by Anil Kapoor.

Jamal is questioned about his ability of answering the questions on the show accurately – after all if he didn’t cheat how else would a slumdog get them all correct, when even literate individuals would find difficult to answer? Jamal then relates the interconnected stories behind the scaling questions – his life experiences, his hopes, aspirations, troubles, joys and tribulations and plays off the complicated, endearing, dangerous and ironic relationship between women, money, family and status. Slumdog Millionaire is an ingenious tale about remarkable coincidences.

I found Jamal to be an endearing character, soft andof a  sensitive nature in comparison to Salim who although was fond of his younger brother felt he was a hinderance and held him back from achieving the goal of being “someone” and “something”- someone with authority, power, and money even if all this was begotten through ill gains. Salim is best described as a hard character and Jamal soft – which given the climate and environment which the brothers grew up in and the hard knocks experienced in life would provide Salim with the advantage in the race for survival and Jamal as floppy and gullible.

Upon becoming orphans after Hindu’s stormed the Muslim dominant tinshacks and violently attacked the slum residents including their mother, Jamal and Salim come across Latika – a girl from their slum- and Jamal takes her under his wing. Jamal’s affection for Latika strains his relationship with Salim who views her as deadweight and a burden which unnecessarily Jamal wishes to pull along.

One more than one occassion Salim gets rid of Latika – by letting go of her hand aboard a travelling train when running away from the beggars ringleader from gouging out Jamal’s eyes in an attempt to profit from transforming him into a melodic singing blind beggar as was the fate for one of their peers, to pawning her off to the slum’s now wealthy gangster in exchange for working as part of his gangster ring – only for Jamal to painstakingly seek her out again. Eventually Salim succeeds and Jamal is left on his own. Jamal is often found fighting with Salim over Latika, Salim’s bossy nature and constant reminder of “being the elder” in an attempt to assert authority silences Jamal into giving into his brothers orders and hoping he is concerned about their welfare rather than just his own aspirations of revelling in having a name, power and status.

Jamal’s concern with Latika spans much of his youth and his intentions for appearing on the TV show were to attract Latika in the hope she would be in touch. Eventually Salim performs the noble act of aiding Latika’s escape from the gangsters clutches, at the unfortunate fate of being murdered by his co-gangsters for the betrayal. Latika and Jamal reunite, with Jamal as a winner of the show (does he ever find out Salim’s noble act resulted in his death?) and Salim, act as redemption for his sins.

Watch the movie if you can. You will enjoy it.

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