Police Inspector: Doctors... Lawyers... never get past 60 thousand rupees. He's won 10 million. What can a slumdog possibly know? Jamal Malik:[quietly] The answers.
A 2008 film directed by Danny Boyle based on the novel Q and A by Vikas Swarup.Jamal Malik is on the verge of winning 20 million rupees on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. There's just one problem: he's a "slumdog," working at a minimum wage job, and nobody can see how he knew any of the answers. As they go through each question, he shows how events in his childhood and life contributed to his knowing almost every single one.Please note, that apart from the dance number at the end, this is not a Bollywood film. It's a Western movie made in Mumbai. It does, however, have several references to Indian culture and Bollywood movies—including songs that have been used in other movies, a credits sequence made to look like old-fashioned movie posters and a reference to legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan (not to mention using two well-known Bollywood actors in the film).Even though critically acclaimed internationally, over the next few years the movie attained widespread Hatedom and Snark Bait status in India, with numerous Take Thats from other Indian movies; mostly because Danny Boyle managed to hit just about every single Bollywood cliche in it, while turning the "Violent Mumbai" stereotype Up to Eleven to create the film's dark and cynical atmosphere. It didn't help that the word "Slumdog" became a kind of euphemism for not just Indians but South Asians in general, (Community, anyone?) never mind the fact that it's an insult, even to people who live in slums.
This film has examples of the following tropes:
Adaptation Distillation: Though there are a lot of things different from the book (including the main character's name - in the book it's Ram Mohammad Thomas), the film manages to condense most of it down and still be good.
The book could not use the actual Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but the film version could, due to it being made by the original producers of the series. (However, they had sold the rights to the franchise by the time the film was released.)
Berserk Button: Jamal is probably one of the sweetest, kindest, and most honest and trusting people you could ever have the fortune to meet. Nevertheless, if you ever insult or harm Latika, he will do his level best to kick your ass.
Bilingual Bonus: There are a lot of curse words in the beginning the subtitles decided to leave out.
The Hindi song Ringa Ringa, which plays when Jamal and Salim find Latika in their teens is about a woman who was forced into sex by a sleezy guy, fitting as Latika was about to become a prostitute and have her virginity sold off.
Book Dumb: Jamal and Salim, literally due to poor schooling. They know the names of two out of the Three Musketeers, and can pick up enough history of the Taj Mahal to sound convincing, and run a small racket at age 13 or so; see Informed Flaw.
Disproportionate Retribution: Latika plays a prank on Salim, putting chillies on his privates as he sleeps. Salim, in revenge, abandons her to a life of slavery, sexual harassment, and abuse at the hands of an evil gangster.
The Dulcinea Effect: Given the amount of time the film covers vs. the amount of time Jamal and Latika are together, plus the lengths Jamal is willing to go to find her, this trope fits.
It's not entirely clear how long the kids spent together the first time, but it seems to have been a while. Given how things were left off (with her in the hands of the vicious slavers), it's perhaps not surprising that Jamal would be obsessed with rescuing her. Now, Jamal and Latika's romantic devotion developing over the course of a few hours in their second time together is a better fit.
Establishing Character Moment: When we first meet Jamal, he's trying to catch a ball playing cricket. Salim is yelling at him to catch it, then Jamal fails from no fault of his own. Salim yells at him. They high five a few seconds later.
Eye Scream: The beggars get their eyes burned out to make more money.
Feigning Intelligence: The two brothers feign expertise on all sorts of stuff to get by (and learn what they didn't know in the process). Thing is, both are actually pretty smart, if unlettered.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Despite being attacked by a group of gangsters who obviously intend to disfigure her, Latika receives a single elegant slash across her face which heals cleanly, and actually accentuates her cheekbones. Logically, of course, no one would want an ugly prostitute. Concept art even shows the artist clearly trying to find the prettiest version of the scar.
Imagine Spot: When Jamal meets his brother again after a few years, he imagines rushing him off the roof and killing them both.
Informed Flaw: Jamal's supposed lack of education and knowledge as a slumdog is lampshaded so many times, despite all evidence to the contrary it goes beyond Book Dumb into this. (heck, with their smarts the brothers could get jobs working in the Bollywood equivalent of a spy film. Or an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's Kim)
Knowledge and intelligence are two different things. That's likely the point. And remember, no one expects much from a "slumdog". Neither brother is dumb, but everyone thinks they are unless they prove otherwise.
Ironic Echo: When Maman is first torturing the children he says "Maman never forgets". Later, when he's grovelling for his life, Salim throws this back at him. Maman says that he can make an exception but Salim ignores him and blows his head off.
They're Mumbai Police. They DO do this all the time. But sorta, kinda, understandable as they get paid peanuts to put their lives on the line against ruthless gangsters who usually have political connections.
Jerkass: Salim was a total dick to Jamal when they were younger, like locking him in an outhouse to prevent him from seeing his favorite actor, and stealing Jamal's autograph of said actor and selling it. And that whole business of dooming Latika to prostitution.
The Millionaire host has signs of this. He happily mocks Jamal for being an assistant at a call center and calls him a "chaiwalah" (approximately it means tea maker but is used as a derogatory term here), all in the name of entertainment. He later starts to approach monster territory after he intentionally gives Jamal a wrong answer to try and slip him up, and then falsely accuses him of cheating and has him sent to be tortured, just because he wanted to be the center of attention.
Last Stand: Salim in a bathtub filled with money. Two reasons; it gives him a chance to get the drop on whoever was coming in first(likely his boss) as they take a few seconds to try and figure out what's going on, and if he has to go out, he'd prefer to go out in a manner people are going to talk about for years.
Neutral Female: Latika, especially when they're kids and Jamal and Salim are fighting.
Never Trust a Trailer: It takes long for Jamal's suffering to be overcome by the happiness promised by the previews and blurbs...
Nobody Poops: Subverted. Heavily. Specifically, Salim locks Jamal in an outhouse above a river as revenge for losing him a few bucks, just when a movie star shows up. Jamal is forced to jump into crap higher than his head to get out.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Dev Patel as Jamal tries an Indian accent (Dev Patel is ethnically Indian but English) but often his English accent comes through.
One Steve Limit: Averted. Jamal searches the name "Latika" in the phone listings and gets over 26 000 results. Even when he searches "Salim K Malik" he gets about ten results.
Operator from India: Jamal works at one of these places. The English cultural teaching is portrayed with some accuracy.
Ordered to Cheat: The host of the show attempts to gets Jamal out of the game by deliberately giving him the wrong answer on a mirror during his bathroom break. Suspicious of his motives and with only two possible answers left, Jamal chooses the other answer instead of the one given to him.
Painting the Medium: The portrayals of the main characters get more and more realistic as Jamal gets older. This is because as he matures, he better understands what is going on instead of turning it into caricature.
Shown Their Work: The movie star in the beginning who Jamal gets an autograph from is played by a double of the actual actor. Both the real actor and double sign with their left hand. The director mentions it in the commentary.
Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Salim, despite having more screentime than Latika. When Madhur Mittal, who plays the adult Salim, was asked about this he said the studio wanted to promote the film as a love story.