Character analysis – Jamal from Slumdog millionaire

The movie Slumdog Millionaire is about an Indian boy, Jamal, who is from the Slum. He competes in the game show, who wants to be a millionaire? He will now play for 20 million rupees, more than any other person ever competing on the show. There is no doubt that he has been cheating and there is no doubt that someone from the slum can not know the answers to so many questions and win more money than any other person with an education. That is what they believe, and we see scenes from his childhood and from the game show, and from his time at the police station being in for questioning, to prove that he has been cheating.

I would call Jamal a round character with some development. Jamal starts as a little boy, growing up in the slum, together with his brother Salim. One day they lose their mother, and they are now on their own. Jamal’s purpose of life changes the day they meet little Latika sitting in the rain. Already in this scene we can see, and get to know the soft side of Jamal.  While his brother doesn’t want to let her sleep under the roof with them, Jamal says she can. From this day on Jamal is in love, and all his future choices are made to get Latika.

Because of the nonlinear structure of the film, we get to know Jamal in different ages and situations, and he is developing and we get to see him acting differently in different situations. This also shows the contrasts between his childhood and where he is now, and between how he is being threatened in the police station and how he is winning money in the game show.

For example, when he is in the hot seat at the show, we no longer see the little boy from the slum, but we see an independent boy being separate from his slum-life. He has now grown from being a poor little no one, to become a self-confident boy winning a lot of money and having become a familiar face to the whole country.

And then, it is important to mention the “it is written” scene. He is given the answer by the host, but still answers something else because of his mistrust to him. This is the point where the whole story changes, where Jamal’s future changes, because he doesn’t believe that his future is written. What will happen is in the hands of his answer, he will continue being a slumdog or he will be starting a life being rich and famous. Even thought his past made him a slumdog, it doesn’t mean that he has to be it for the rest of his life. His life wasn’t written like everyone seemed to believe, he had the possibility to make a change.

A lot of his development I will see is because of his childhood. He has seen his mother being brutally murdered because of religious differences, he was almost exploited by a rich man and he’s been searching for the love of his life. All his bad experiences have made him wiser and the answers to the questions are his experiences, and he competes in this show basically because he thinks Latika will watch him. There is no doubt that Jamal is a determined and sincere boy, showing us that life experience sometimes may be more important than book’s knowledge and that a life being given isn’t predetermined.

Helpful sources:

Pandalous “Cinema Room” : Last visited 21.01.2010 :–slumdog_millionaire_is–

Helium “Movie analysis: The hero’s journey in Slumdog Millionaire” :


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