The story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's Kaun Banega Crorepati? (2000) (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show's questions. Each chapter of Jamal's increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show's seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really doing on the game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out. At the heart of its storytelling lies the question of how anyone comes to know the things they know about life and love.
—Fox Searchlight Pictures
Jamal and his brother Salim were raised in the slums of Mumbai. Orphaned at a young age, they managed to survive as did their young friend Latika. Jamal becomes a contestant on India's version of Who Wants To Be A Millionnaire. He manages to get to 10 million rupees in his first appearance but is arrested by the police who want to know how an illiterate 'slumdog' - as children raised in the slum are called - could possibly know all of those answers without cheating. He explains how specific events in his life taught him the answers and all he can say that being asked questions to which he knows the answers is simply fate. He hopes that fate will give at least one more good turn as he had a very specific reason for going on the show in the first place.
The quintessence thirst to know and absorb the eesence of love and life, emulates through a story of a slum boy Jamal, participating in a Indian television reality show, Koun Banaga Cororpati. The staggering experience of real life enables him to cross all hardles of answering the questions, but only to be convicted of cheating before the last answering winning streak. The film evokes the climax, regarding how Jamal tackles the final question, to win the show and prove the superiority of one's surreal ability to comply a meandering journey, abiding Nature's pragmatic ethos of life.
Eighteen year old Jamal Malik is having an amazing answering streak on Kaun Banega Crorepati? (2000), the Indian version of the television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (1998). He's only one correct question away from the big prize. However, some, including those associated with the game show, question how someone like Jamal, a self confessed non-genius who grew up in the slums of Mumbai, can be doing so well on the show when others who are brighter, more educated and wealthier than him have failed. Is Jamal cheating? Is it purely luck that they have asked him the questions to which he knows the answers? Seeing Jamal's life journey to this point ultimately answers these questions. His life journey includes being orphaned at an early age; growing up with an 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. His motivation for being on the show also may provide some answers to his success. Perhaps it was all just meant to be.
In Mumbai, the eighteen year-old orphan from the slums Jamal Malik is tortured by the policemen in a precinct accused of cheating a game show. Jamal, who has no education and works in a call center serving tea, is close to wining twenty million rupees in the show Kaun Banega Crorepati? (2000) (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) hosted by Prem Kumar, giving precise answers to the questions and raising suspicion of fraud. The police inspector shows the videotape and after each question, Jamal tells 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.
—Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A Mumbai teen reflects on his upbringing in the slums when he is accused of cheating on the Indian Version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"
The synopsis below may give away important plot points.
- Slumdog Millionaire is the story of Jamal Malik (Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India¹s "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"
But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika (Pinto), the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show¹s questions.
Each chapter of Jamal¹s increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show¹s seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really doing on the game show?
When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out.
Slumdog Millionaire Summary
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup.
Slumdog Millionaire, by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup, follows the rags-to-riches story of an Indian teenager who becomes a millionaire by winning a version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” Swarup published the novel in 2005 with the title Q&A, to reflect the trivia show that reverses the poor boy’s fortune, but the story is far more recognizable by the title of the adapted movie Slumdog Millionaire (2008), which was a surprise blockbuster and major winner at the Oscars. Since 2008, Q&A is often sold as Slumdog Millionaire, though the novel has several major plot and character differences from the movie. The novel’s themes include compassion, perseverance, courage against impossible odds, and the true definition of “smart.”
Set in Mumbai, the novel follows Ram Mohammad Thomas, who is an orphan; his name represents the three religions his parents may have practiced: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The novel opens as Ram is being arrested and taken to the local police precinct. Hours before, he had won India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, called Who Will Win a Billion? (abbreviated as W3B). Allowing for currency adjustments, he actually won one billion rupees. The producers don’t have the money to pay Ram, so they bribe the Indian police to arrest Ram for cheating. After his arrest, he is interrogated. The officers ask him a series of general questions that he cannot answer correctly. They are convinced that he cheated on the game show, and they are determined to find out how. But then, a female lawyer, Smita Shah (a childhood friend of Ram), appears to defend him. She informs the police that what they’re doing is illegal, and demands to speak with her client in private. They let Ram go.
Having grown up in one of the world’s worse slums, Ram is skeptical of peoples’ motivations and cannot understand the worldview of optimists. He doesn’t understand why Smita wants to help him; she says she wants to help because when she saw his arrest in the paper, she knew the police had probably done it illegally. She wants justice for him, but she entreats him to tell her the truth of how he – an uneducated hood kid who rarely follows the news—was able to win such a difficult trivia show. Ram tells Smita that he just got lucky: he was only asked questions that he knew the answers to.
The rest of the novel is divided into 12 chapters. In each chapter, Ram tells a story from his life that explains how he knew the answer to all 12 questions that were asked on the trivia show. Each chapter also ends by showing how Ram’s “street smarts” prepared him to compete on Who Will Win a Billion? Ram was abandoned as a baby, and found in a donation box at a church in Delhi. Because of his dark skin, no parents were eager to adopt him. Ram spends his early life in the church, and grows close to Father Timothy, who becomes a mentor to him and teaches him the answer to the first question. As a young boy, Ram lives with his good friend and cousin, Salim, in an abandoned movie theater. One day, a family whose father recently lost his job, moves in. Ram overhears, and eventually sees, the father routinely beat and molest his daughter. It’s understood that this girl is none other than Smita. The father beats her so badly that she’s sent to the hospital. Ram, who has bonded with her and wishes to protect her like his own sister, vows to look after her cat, but the father soon kills Smita’s pet. At the end of the chapter, Ram pushes the father down the stairs, inadvertently killing him.
After the death of Father Timothy, Ram and Salim are forced to live in a foster home operated by a man named Sethji. It’s soon revealed that Sethji makes a living by making children perform sexual services for money. The two boys escape. Ram’s working life includes an encounter with an eccentric Australian, Colonel Taylor, and a period as a bartender, where he hears a confession from a weeping man who contributed to his own brother’s massive heart attack. Both of these stories give him information that allows him to advawnce in Who Will Win a Billion. Ram saves enough money to travel to Mumbai to see his best friend, Salim. But word gets around that he’s carrying 50,000 rupees, and a group of robbers attack them. He defends himself, and kills one of his attackers in the process, but all of his money is stolen.
Ram meets a beautiful young woman, Nita. Though she is forced to work as a prostitute, he quickly falls in love with her. She asks him not to call her beautiful, as her beauty is the reason her family selected her to be a sex worker in the first place. It’s soon revealed that Prem Kumar, the host of Who Will Win a Billion, has abused Nita. In fact, Ram wanted to be a contestant on the show in the first place to extract revenge on Kumar. As a young man, Ram worked for a formerly popular Bollywood star, Neelima Kumari. She is kind to Ram, though her husband severely mistreats her. She ends up committing suicide to preserve her youthful appearance. For sometime, he also works as a tour guide at the Taj Mahal. It’s one of his better jobs, and Ram has a great time getting creative with certain stories related to the history of the Taj Mahal. When he goes on the game show, he is a waiter. The novel concludes with Ram as a free and wealthy man. He marries Nita, and lives happily.