Man Makes His Own Destiny
“Slumdog Millionaire” is one of the most heart-warming and inspirational stories in recent years. It takes place in Mumbai, India, where eighteen-year old Jamal Malik is a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Jamal is one question away from winning the top prize of the show, but the host can’t understand how an uneducated young boy from a slum knows the answers to the difficult questions in the show, so he has Jamal arrested and interrogated after being convinced that he’s cheating. The rest of the movie employs flashbacks to narrate the turbulent story of Jamal, his brother Salim, and Latika (a girl from their slum). Although Jamal’s life was far from easy, his life experiences gave him the knowledge to answer the tough questions on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and lead a life of integrity.
In the movie, Jamal and Salim choose two very different paths in their lives which leads to two opposing outcomes. Jamal ends up winning the Indian version of the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? while Salim dies at the hands of his gangster boss. Nevertheless, to say that Salim is a bad person who made all the wrong choices, whereas Jamal is the typical good-doer hero of the movie is an oversimplification of their characters. To understand how they ended up in these different situations, we must first understand the experiences that shaped their lives.
Salim and Jamal are both orphans who lost their mother on an anti-Muslim attack on the slum where they lived. They didn’t have the opportunity to attend school for very long. In fact, Jamal only learned the names of two of The Three Musketeers while in school. He referred to Latika as “the third musketeer” (Aramis), he referred to himself as Athos, and his brother as Porthos. His ignorance of the identity of the third musketeer is important at the end of the movie, as that is the final question of the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? But even the reference on the movie to The Three Musketeers is significant in understanding the characters. Despite the fact that Jamal didn’t know much about The Three Musketeers asides from two of their names, the allusion to them gives the watcher of the movie an idea of the character’s personalities.
As young children, Jamal and Salim are left to fend off for themselves. They resort to stealing, begging, and even posing as tour guides at the Taj Mahal to survive. Later on, Salim kills the gangster Maman, who they had escaped from when they were children. He does this to rescue Latika and protect his brother and himself. This action offers him the opportunity to work with another gangster, Javed. Javed hires him to work for him after learning that Salim had killed his rival. Salim sees this job as the only opportunity he has to get out of poverty.
On the other hand, we have Jamal. He only resorted to criminal activity when he was a child to satisfy his basic necessities. As a young adult he makes an honest living working as a delivery boy in a call center. Unlike Salim, he considers other options to get out of poverty. But we also have to consider how in the