Guest Movie Commentary: Slum dog Millionaire by Robert Blake


Slum dog Millionaire: A commentary

 

By Robert W. Blake

 

Recently, my wife and I viewed Slum dog Millionaire. We love India and everything about it, so one more film that helps us understand this nation was imperative to us.

 

I had read many reviews about the movie, knew that it was highly rated. I was not disappointed at all in watching the film. It is so highly rated it became the Oscar winner in the Best picture category.

The question is what it informs the viewer about India and what the commentary about people is in general.

 

The movie is a brilliant snapshot of the issues that face India. The nation is still dominated by the caste system and abject poverty. The film attacks these issues, showing how cruel those of higher standing can be to the lower caste. Specifically, the main character is Muslim and would be deemed as an untouchable, the lowest of the low.

The main character and his brother are orphans and have only themselves to depend upon and one friend, Latika, the main character loves and believes it is destiny that they should be together.

 

The basic plot is the main character is on a game show, and knows a lot of answers that he should not. In explaining how he knew the answers the viewer is given a recounting of events and circumstances of the main characters life. The events helped him to know the correct answer for almost every question. It comes in a flashback technique of the question being read on the show and the main character remembering the events for the Police to explain how he got the answer. What occurs is a brutal depiction of the main characters life.

 

The film does not sugar coat life of the poor and orphaned of India. Several scenes from actual slums are presented, as they are not cleaned up or sanitized in any fashion. One may think it cannot be that bad, but it is and worse. The viewer for example can see the conditions of heavily polluted water that residents of the slum must drink from and other things.

 

The main character and partners grow up and head in different directions due to their condition in life. Trying to find a way out of the slum in various ways, sometimes they chose how to survive and on other times it is forced upon them.

 

But, outside of this being an excellent film to watch. What is there to learn from this? What is there that can be gleaned out of this for the American Christian?

 

First, realize that the events are fictional but very realistic of the conditions and issues of India. What do you do with realizing the wealth that Americans have from the poorest to the richest? It should in some way move us to a softened heart for the world around us. The poorest person in America is much better off than the poorest of poor from India. For example, people living in slums throughout India are not even recognized as human. They have no birth certificates; there is no record of them existing with the government of India.

 

Second, the film is excellent in portraying the end result of a society apart from Jesus. It demonstrates with great clarity the depravity of man. What happens when a nation of 1 billion people knows almost nothing about Jesus? India is a nation of great contrasts and extremes. Depicted time to time in the film you should be aware of the contrasts. Like a new luxury apartment goes up where the slum used to be that the main character grew up in. But, in seeing the apartment building from a distance, you still see the poverty abounding around it. Or the gangster parked in a limousine in the middle of the slum during the opening scenes where a chase scene is occurring. You could easily miss these depictions without an understanding of the contrasting nature of India. You could also miss how it represents the results of Hinduism in the nation.

 

Third, the film portrays common spiritual themes of India. The main character and brother are Muslim. Other than a few occasions it is down played in the film. However, when it is portrayed it is giving a clear message on the need for man to find forgiveness and freedom from guilt. The main characters brother becomes more devout to Islam as the film progresses. It is clear the more violent the brother becomes the greater his need is for forgiveness. Several occasions in the film he takes an action to pay for a sin/wrong he committed against the main character or others. It depicts the need for redemption.

 

It does not stop there. Another theme as mentioned earlier is the main character and Latika. The main character begins to believe that “destiny” is the reason that they have been together since they were children. As the main character moves into adulthood, the destiny turns into love for Latika. It clearly depicts the concepts of karma that are infused into the society of India. What happens to you is what you deserve be it good or bad. In relation to India for example, if you are poor, it is deserved and nothing should be done to remedy it.

 

How do these themes apply to us? Do we live the same way, seeking self-redemption or living as if you have a destiny that cannot change? The answer to both is found in Christ, where I no longer need to redeem myself from my sin and my destiny is changed.

 

Finally, if you are interested about India, how can you learn more? I suggest the following:

 

Films that can be found in the USA:

Water

Monsoon Wedding

The Namesake

Vanaja

 

Books:

 

Being Indian: Inside the Real India by Pavan K. Varma (Not Christian but excellent if you can find it.)

The Quest for Freedom & Dignity: Caste, Conversion & Cultural Revolution by Vishal Mangalwadi

(Actually, any of numerous books by this Indian Christian.)

 

 

Short-Term Summer Project

London Evangelism and Prayer Conference http://www.whm.org/leap

A one week conference learning about India and its culture along with reaching out to the South Asian immigrants living in London.

 

Music:

Aradhna  www.aradhnamusic.com

Aradhna means worship in Hindi. This is taking Indian styled worship and applying it to worshipping Jesus. A mix of Classical Indian music and western music.  

 

 

 

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One Response

  1. hii actually i have debate on this slumdog millinaire//can ne1 help ma

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