Urban Film Review “Slumdog Millionaire (2008)”

The film Slumdog Millionaire directed by Boyle Danny was released in the year 2008 and co-directed by Tandan Loveleen. The film has won at least eight Oscar awards due to its excellence in areas such as editing, sound, composition, and cinematography. The film is a primary version of the popular novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup. The movie is set within an Indian based background where the story is centered on an illiterate young Muslim boy by the name Jamaal and his rather challenging journey from the slums up to the typical standards of the wealthy. The film begins with the boy and his brother living in the slums a place that is particularly crowded due to the high populace of people in the City of Mumbai. The slums are the representation of the existing segregation within the urban landscape amid the wealthy and those that are poor (LeGates and Stout, 2016).

Jamal and his brother struggle within the poor setting to survive after being left homeless following the Hindu-Muslim uprising that took the life of their mother. The boys are involved in a movement that can be referred to as urbanization to different cities and finally settlers in Kaun Banega a place which is perceived to be creating millionaires. In Slumdog Millionaire, the film portrays the poverty and segregation themes that have been created due to urbanization. Jamal wins the contest due to the knowledge that he holds not because he is learned but based on his life experiences. His life is rather challenging having to survive in the slums with his brother without any support. Unlike the learned fellows living in the suburbs of the city where they have access to everything and their knowledge is based on the opportunities they have acquired in life for his life has offered him more lessons. India is the second largest in the global context in regard to population and the most emerging developed economy.

However, based on its general status as a freshly commercial and urbanized nation, India remains to be the most segregated nation globally as it accommodates the overwhelming poverty and the fabulous wealth. In Slumdog Millionaire the concept of society and class within the urban setting is well portrayed. It is through Jamaal’s story that settlement patterns, urbanization, and segregation themes are exposed. In that while, most individuals in the cities are situated in the slums which are characterized by high rate of poverty and social economic challenges the wealthy live in the suburbs in places where the population is sparsely situated. Both sides of urbanization, segregation and unequal settling patterns within major cities can be seen in the film. For instance, Jamaal as the Slumdog embodies the determination and robustness of the country’s poor who despite the prevailing challenges establishes different survival approaches and ultimately succeed (Boyle & Tandan, 2008).

Slumdog Millionaire demonstrates that even in the utmost hardships there is always an existence of hope to desire better and be successful. Since the issues of poverty, riches and societal class within the urban setting that has segregated the rich and those that are poor are the centers of the story in the film the characters are particularly connected to their societal status. Jamaal is dismissed by the competition audiences and the crowd of the competition since he comes from the lowest level in the society. For example, even the police officer makes the assumption that based on his socio-economic status he is a trickster and foolish (Boyle & Tandan, 2008). However, he proves this notion to be wrong throughout the entire movie as he is not only noble, bright but also intelligent. Throughout the story of moving from the slums to the wealthy setting, the story that is explored is based on the dishonest stereotype and the theme of urbanization and segregation. It is the same setting that influences Salim his brother to focus on crime as his only way to escape the prevailing poverty. Without a doubt, he is able to acquire substantial wealth via his morally deprived activities which led to his death. This scene creates the notion that the lifestyle adopted in the cities has its value (LeGates and Stout, 2016).

It is through actions and dialogue that the viewer’s get to understand that Jamal is a quick thinker and intelligent despite his uneducated and poor background. The urbanized landscape in the film is essential in demonstration various issues such as segregation, urbanization and settlement patterns. This is a story that can be mistaken to be of misery and hopelessness but it is however a story that portrays resilience, empowerment and inspiration. The film is often viewed as a postcolonial take on Dickens, with plot illustrating him being transformed from rags to riches and subplot portraying negligence and abuse of the urban poor and especially children. It is clear that the film transforms from a depressing vision of a disastrous city that can heal its wounds of migration, state division and inequality. Slum dog Millionaire film is all about the present day India. It is a clear reflection of the western aesthetic fondness that includes matching down of the melodrama related with bollywood, casting of the Diaspora actors and an appearance of the social realist themes in a highly simplified good versus evil behavior. These choices widen the movie’s depiction of India.

The central character is employed in a call centre and this is perhaps the most immediate standard for visualizing globalization rate in India. The informal settlement in India is illustrated in a manner that may strike more with that of the western viewers perceptive of India than the lived realism. It is for a fact that the Mumbai informal settlements have the highest numbers of literacy rates in the entire India. However, the film illustrates Dharavi as the one that has a high rate of illiteracy (Gehlawat 2014). The movie illustrates its western idea on how India is and what it means to be an Indian. This film is an example of risk management and its capitalism and orientalism is in its most pure form. In order for the central character, Jamal to become successful and lead a better life, then he must be involved in a western game in which the winner has the opportunity to ask for money from the capitalism society (Gehlawat 2014). Two different scenes in the play are used by the writer to portray globalization and capitalism in our societies. One of the scenes is when Salim and Jamal are offered Coca- Cola by Maman the gangster with an aim to gain their trust and also be able to train them.

Through the use of the Coca Cola beverage it is a clear indication that it is representing the western American state. By gangster, Maman tricking them into taking the beverage shows that he is offering them a better life a life that is similar to those of the west as they get to drink the Coca Cola brand (Gehlawat 2014). Capitalism and globalization is also portrayed in the scene where Jamal and Salim after staying for a long time without seeing each other they decide to meet on top of buildings. Below them is what use to be a slum. The slum has already been replaced by high buildings and a high population of people who used to occupy the place is also removed from this place. The expansion of cities leaves behind restricted space for housing and limited opportunities (Gehlawat 2014). It is thus clear that these people who used to live in these places are not usually in great homes and jobs but they rather are still in the poor state as they had migrated to form other slums.

Intelligent urbanization therefore, enables the people to improve their quality of life, unlock productivity in areas such as the social amenities and city organization and fosters sustainable growth (Richard & Frederic 2016). The film ignores India’s recent economic success. India is not composed of slum problems as portrayed in the play but in reality there has been some economic uplift over the years. In conclusion, it is quite relevant to note that Slumdog Millionaire film is one of the interesting examples of a growing capitalism and globalization and its affects to the Indian society. According to the review illustrated in the previous discussion in the paper, it is evident that there are both negative and positive elements of globalization and capitalism in the film. This film is therefore all about achievement of human spirit against great adversity and therefore, intelligent urbanized world will be victorious for a large population in their determination for better living.


Bottom of FormBoyle, D. & Tandan, L. (2008). Slumdog Millionaire. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1010048/Gehlawat, A. (2014). The slum-dog phenomenon: A critical anthology. London: Anthem Press. Richard T. LeGates and Frederic Stout. (2016). the City Reader 6th Edition. Routledge Urban reader series.