Slumdog Millionaire- Health Studies review
Slumdog Millionaire, a film released in 2008 by director Danny Boyle explores the lives of two young brothers, Salim and Jamal from the slums of Mumbai, India.
Throughout the duration of the movie, the lifestyle and health of the boys vary drastically due to individual aspects and environments influencing these changes. At the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to Salim and Jamal as young boys living with their mother in the Indian Slum of Bombay, characterised by a high population of low income settlers and poor living conditions.
The physical environment of Jamal and Salim is poor. Living in poverty and squalor, Jamal and Salim face issues such as inadequate access to clean fresh water, poor infrastructure and quality of housing, overcrowding, a poor education with large numbers and few resources and poor sanitation facilities. The economic environment in Bombay is extremely poor.
Residents do not have access to healthcare and hospitals, nor do many have work, which means they cannot afford healthy, sustainable food and medication to improve physical health.
Bombay’s political environment is sketchy; the criminal justice system is all but withdrawn and with the social division of Hindi and Muslim religions, riots and attacks towards the other has made the city unsafe. Socially, Jamal and Salim have a close family relationship with each other and their mother who cares solely for the boys herself. The brothers, despite unlikely circumstances, do not seem to struggle with physical or mental health conditions and emotionally are happy, energetic children.
Following a violent religious clash against Muslims, Jamal and Salim witness the killing of their mother and many other residents and are forced to flee for their lives. This terrifying experience undoubtedly affected the young boys’ mental and emotional health, as seen by Jamal’s anxious flashbacks during the screening of ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ when he revisits the traumatising memories.
Once fleeing to the outskirts of Bombay, the brother’s physical environment deteriorates further and they are forced to live and hide in large pipes with inadequate food. It is at this stage,
Jamal meets Latika, a young Indian girl whose family also disappear in the riots. Jamal makes friends with Latika and she contributes to the improvement of his emotional and social wellbeing, growing to love her as he matures. After the killing of their mother, the brothers now no longer attend school, which sacrifices their education and future prospects of obtaining a decent career and stable income. This is a regular occurrence for children raised in Slums. The physical health of Jamal, Salim and Latika is endangered as they are forced to rely on seconds foods and abandoned materials to shelter them from the Indian weather conditions.
Dehydrated, starving, weak and dirty, the luck of the young children seems to change when they are found by orphanage operator Maman, who invites them to stay with him. The following weeks indicate improving health of the children. Jamal and Salim are given a place to sleep, food to eat, a place to shower and are surrounded by many other orphans who though at times bully each other with harsh pranks, seem to get along quite well. To ‘earn their keep’ Jamal and Salim are taught to sing and spend their days begging on the streets to provide an income for Maman.
Unknown to Jamal and Salim, Maman is essentially a child kidnapper who once satisfied with the singing ability of his children, brutally blinds them before thrusting them back onto the streets, believing they would “make double. ” Salim’s progressively aggressive behaviour towards the people in his social environment attracts the attention of Maman who orders Salim to direct the orphans under his instruction.
This is when Salim learns of the fate of the orphans and Jamal and Salim, with Latika, flee to a departing train.
Salim however lets go of Latika’s hand as she tried to climb aboard, leaving her behind and devastating Jamal who was affected emotionally with feelings of guilt and sadness. For the next few years, the brothers live on the train. They earn money to survive by selling stolen goods, pickpocketing and stealing food. They are in constant physical danger of falling off the roof of the train, by taking risks such as jumping from carriage to carriage, climbing along the train roof and are eventually thrown off the train after being caught pinching food. Jamal and Salim re-emerge no longer as children, but adolescents and are able o earn money for basic human essentials such as food and shelter by giving unofficial tours of the Taj Mahal to tourists and stealing items such as shoes and car tyres, before eventually acquiring jobs as a dishwashers in a restaurant.
The movie indicates the tourism industry provides the economic environment with many job opportunities for this region of India. Furthermore, Boyle provides an excellent representation of the social environment difference of India in comparison to countries like America and Australia, as seen by the shocked and disgusted reaction of tourists following the beating of Jamal.
This brutal treatment of human life, especially to adolescents is generally despised of in first world societies but is displayed as a regular, overlooked norm of Indian life. Despite the improvements of overall physical and environmental health, Jamal continues to long for Latika, his sadness impacting his mental and emotional health and Salim agrees to return to Bombay (Now called Mumbai) in search of her. When Salim and Jamal find Latika, they discover Maman has raised her to become a prostitute, with the expectation her virginity would be sold for a high price.
The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual consequences of a life in prostitution are devastating. Quite often means of protection are disregarded, meaning Latika could have unprotected sex, leading to sexually transmitted infections or diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV or Aids, which could result in death. Latika could have possibly become pregnant and at such a young age the physical demands of childbirth could harm her body as it would not be fully developed.
As developing countries like India have a poor economic health care system for those living in poverty, she would not have received the help she required and the birth could kill her. If she were to deliver a child, gain an STI or have been raped, she could be mentally and emotionally unstable. She would quite likely have been too young and therefore immature to raise a child, sacrificing the needs of herself and the baby.
Latika may also face depression, anxiety or other mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder from her ordeals.
Having sex may have contradicted her spiritual health, as she may have contradicted her sexual beliefs, leading to further emotional distress. Salim shoots and kills Maman to free Latika, possibly causing emotional trauma to the Jamal, Latika and himself before seeking shelter in a hotel room. At this stage, the physical environment is an improvement to previous living conditions, providing the boys and Latika with a more hygienic, safe and sheltered home. Jamal has a sudden lifestyle change and decides to obtain a job with Javed, a gangster and rival of Maman.
Salim then sacrifices his social relationship with Jamal by ordering him away with a gun, claiming Latika for Javed.
For the next few years, the brother’s lifestyle choices send them in different directions. Salim continues living a gangster life with the extreme risk of physical attacks. Jamal, continually saddened by the loss of Latika is employed as a tea-boy in a call centre. The incomes the brothers earn allow them to escape from the slum residency, Jamal covering the costs of a home, food and clothes and Salim occupying an impressive lifestyle with ample funds to even purchase a phone and car.
A scene of Salim praying shows the viewer that religion has become an important aspect of his Spiritual heath. Javed abuses Latika resulting in physical dangers such as bruising and lacerations, and emotional/mental consequences like depression and anxiety.
If she had not eventually escaped, prolonged untreated suffering of these mental health issues may have impacted her social health, as withdrawing from relationships is a common outcome and this may have further affected her self-esteem.
Her untreated conditions may also have caused physical health problems including insomnia, digestive or bowel problems or damage to the kidneys, blood vessels and heart. When the opportunity arises for Jamal to participate as a contestant in the widely popular ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ he accepts, not caring for the physical materialistic options if he were to succeed, but instead hoping Latika would be able to find him.
The portrayal of the television show exhibits the role of media in Indian culture, revealing the widespread appeal for a meaningless competition in comparison to the Country’s overlooked inequalities. Jamal blitz’s the first screening, drawing the attention of the Indian police who suspect fraud is involved in the success. Physically, Jamal is beaten by the interrogators, depicting the very different laws that in Australia would have Jamal protected.
Jamal’s name is cleared though and as expected, Latika watches.
Salim, conveniently with Latika and Javed allows her to leave and he finally fulfils his spiritual beliefs for what is just, turning against Javed. For breaking the gangster commitment, Salim is aware Javed will kill him, as he does. Latika does escape; reuniting with Jamal whose winnings will allow them to live a life without poverty and slum residency. Jamal is able to be with Latika and fulfil the emotional and social desires for a relationship. Throughout the film, Boyle presents Jamal and Salim in many different statuses of health.
He affectively reveals the impact of the moral and spiritual consequences of poverty and the recognisable case system and social environments on individual health. The misuse of power in economic and political environments affected Jamal and Salim and the social exclusion and physical vulnerability they faced as orphans impacted the future lifestyle choices of the brothers, which are all factors of determining the overall health of an individual.