The Visionary Slumdog Millionaire

Steve Ahlquist has been writing his Mythographical Meanderings over at for two years now. If you haven’t been reading his column, you’re missing out. To catch you up we’ll be posting excerpts from his best essays with links back to FOB where you can read the rest. This essay was originally published January 18, 2009.

There’s not much I can add to all the hoopla and praise being poured onto Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. It’s a must-see film that delivers a story that literally left me breathless. It was a full on emotional workout. There’s so much to talk about in this film, but I’d like to concentrate on the less discussed.

In the film there are the two Muslim boys, Jamal and Selim, growing up in Hindu India living lives of extreme poverty. Unexpectedly, a group of rioting Hindus show up, their mission to kill Muslims. Fleeing from the carnage through a maze of back alleys, the boys see what appears to be the Hindu god Rama, in the form of a little boy. The confusion in many reviews is about whether or not what the boys saw was a hallucinatory vision or a child dressed as Rama for some sort of religious festival.

According to Chemco (and I’ve corrected his grammar here a bit): “The kid wasn’t a figment of their imagination. He was actually standing there… In India it is common for kids to dress up as a god during festive seasons and such. So somehow the kid dressed up as Rama happened to stumble across the riot scene and Jamal and Salim noticed him. Salim and Jamal are Muslims and the attacking people are Hindus. Rama is a Hindu god. I think the kid stood out to Jamal because of the bizarreness and irony of the whole picture: a kid dressed up as a god standing there watching his followers massacre everyone in their path.”

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