Slumdog Millionaire Cultural Issues Essay

| Slumdog Millionaire| || 02 102010| Slumdog Millionaire. Dir. Danny Boyle. Co-Dir: India. Loveleen Tandan. Perf. Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor Ayush, Mahesh Khedekar, Tanay Chheda, Rubina Ali, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala Distributor, United Kingdom: Pathe Pictures 2008 United States/Canada: Fox Searchlight PicturesWarner Bros. Pictures 2008 Australia: Icon Film Distrubution 2009 “Slumdog Millionaire”, a film set in the Twenty-first century of modern day India, is a great case for the Cultural and Economic Globalization theory.

This movie has at its core a western influence and a quest for freedom through economic empowerment (capitalism), utilizing the love of western culture and modern technology. The film has as its central character a young Indian man name Jamal Malik, who was born into misfortune, which is to say he was born into absolute poverty. He was an orphan, and he was from the slums of Mumbai. He grew up with his older brother, Salim, who was both his guardian/protector and antagonist; and having a relationship since childhood with another orphaned child, a girl named Latika.

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Jamal, had no education and worked in a call center serving tea. However, his resourcefulness and street smarts helped him to adapt to his ever challenging environment and navigate his way through his very difficult life. According to India’s traditional (albeit disappearing) caste system, he is expected to remain in abject poverty until death. This young Indian mans life was forever altered by western culture and technology, through the popular Indian version of the American Television show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”.

With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees. But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating. Throughout the film, the young man is constantly exposed directly or indirectly to western culture (American and European Tourists, Western Currency, even European Literature “The Three Musketeers”) which brought with them valuable life lessons, and provided the answers to many of the questions which he had to answer correctly, to win the game show challenge and become a millionaire.

The police inspector shows the videotape and after each question, Jamal recalls parts of his childhood with his brother Salim, his crush for Latika and their fight to survive on the streets to justify each correct answer, guided by his common sense and past experience, and prove his innocence. Ironically, but consistent with globalization the winning question which brought the young Jamal his fortune and changed his financial standing in society. The question from western literature about the “Three Musketeers”, penned by French writer Alexander Dumas.

High Context Communication The film depicts cultural bias but the message that is communicated is high context communication because it is understood between both parties. India’s characteristics reveal the social practices of the cultural systems. Because their communication takes place in a long term relationship between two people who are often able to interpret even the slightest gesture or briefest comment. The message does not need to be stated explicitly because it is carried in the shared understanding about the relationships.

Jamal was an office jockey or coffee runner, yet he worked in a call center, which handled calls from all over the world. The young man Jamal, because of his social-economic standing, was thought to have cheated when he answered the questions correctly. It was believed that this lower class Indian (“A Chia-wallah Slumdog”), should not have been able to answer such questions because they were not relevant to his world. He was from the streets or slums of Mumbai. The questions could only have been answered correctly by a better educated more widely exposed (middle or upper-class) Indian.

This was apparent in the way the game show host taunted and mistreated the young contestant, humiliating him and talking to him in a very inferior and condescending manner. However, in a very specific setting: the angry police inspector, when he is violently interrogating Jamal, whom he suspects of cheating on the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” show states, “What can a slumdog possibly know? ” At this point in the movie, the inspector is the antagonist and certainly not a character with whom we are expected to agree with.

By the end of the movie, the inspector has changed his attitude toward Jamal completely. He believes him, sets him free and roots for him to win. For example, as mentioned earlier, the caste system is one which is very prejudicial and oppressive to a certain class of Indian people. Collectivism The challenges which Jamal faced, in some ways is familiar to most of us, but in other ways it is very far from our reality. The children in this movie were family, although they were abandoned and left alone to provide for themselves, they were apart of a bigger family which was the slumdog community.

When Jamal and his brother went to school the teacher taught them about the Three Musketeer’s which symbolize collectivism because they represent “all for one and one for all”. Jamal invited Latika to come and stay with him and Salim because he recognizes that she was a slumdog and she was alone like them, and all slumdogs stick together. When Jamal won the game, he just didn’t win it for him self, he won it for the whole slumdog community. He showed everyone that has a higher rank in the caste system that is doesn’t matter where you come from, you can still gain knowledge.

Cultural Patterns They suffered great abuses because they were a part of the lower caste. Everyone who was higher in the caste system had the right to abuse you, simply because you were a slumdog. In the movie the police constantly abused and tramatised the slumdogs. Because the Indian police can not imagine that a kid from the slums could have the intelligence to answer the questions correctly. And why should he? His entire background is one of hard work, no education and nightmarish conditions that are unbearably and sadly true for so many of India’s children at the lowest caste level.

If you were a pretty girl from the slumdog community you could be used to entertain men for money (prostitution, belly-dancing, singing, etc. ). In the Indian culture, generally the age threshold for womanhood is much younger than it is in the western culture. In the movie they washed their clothes and played in the same water because as a slumdog it didn’t matter to them. Cultural Biases The cultural bias in this movie was when the Hindis went to fight the Muslims. When this occurred, the cultural riot killed Jamal’s mother. This is what left a lot of children homeless and without parents.

In the beginning the studio audience had a bad view of Jamal because he was a slumdog, but as he began to answer questions correctly the audience changed their view of him. The questions that were ask on the game show were cultural bias because they were a part of the western culture, for instance when the host ask him about what was on the face of the hundred dollar bill, he learned it from a blind boy that he knew. The only reason the host asked him those questions was because he thought that Jamal shouldn’t know the answer because he was a slumdog from India.

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