One of the scenes that most attracted the audience’s attention in the movie Slumdog Millionaire, a movie directed by Danny Boyle, is the scene in which the blue painted boy appears wearing and standing like God Rama. The movie won eight academic awards. It tells the story of eighteen years old boy, Jamal Malik, who is orphan from one of the largest slums of Mumbai called Dharavi. Jamal Malik, when he is looking for his love, he registers for one of the famous American TV show called “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in Mumbai to win twenty million rupees. No one was able to win the competition even the educated ones except Jamal Malik. Because of this, the police is annoyed how an uneducated slum can answer all the questions and detained Jamal Malik. He answers the questions by remembering the situations he had faced when he was a child. He acquired an amazing experience in his life when he was growing in the slums of Mumbai. The metaphor behind the scene and the movie, Mumbai’s social problems like politics, poverty, and ethnic fear are reflected.
Through the analysis of the scene at which the blue painted boy appeared in the movie, this essay argues how in this particular scene Mumbai’s identity issue, ethnic violence and prejudice against Muslims are reflected. The scene begins with, two slum Muslim boys are splashing water in the river. They are Jamal Malik and his brother Salim. Their mother is washing clothes a short distance away from them. The mother is washing the clothe bending down to the river. She hears a very loud voice coming to her from the other side. When she turns around the place is surrounded by the Hindu mobs chasing innocent Muslim citizens. Then, she panics and shouts softly to her impoverished children. She doesn’t run to escape rather she saves her children by sacrificing her life. This is the moment Jamal and Salim are separated from their mother forever. She is hit by rod by the Hindu mobs and then dies. Jamal and Salim see when their mother is hit and starts to run away to protect themselves. They run through the crowded place as the people are hitting one another and the Hindus are throwing a fire to the Muslims. Without being sure of what would happen next when they are escaping through the people fighting one another they meet a magic, blue painted boy dressed like God Rama. It creates a magic horror here. The audience is worried about them whether the magic will burn, kill or magically destroy them.
They immediately stop running as if the magic holds them. They swallow their breath and stare at the magic. It seems like they are going to start violence with the blue painted boy. For the moment they forget the Hindus that are chasing them. The blue painted boy stands confidently raising his left hand to the sky. It looks brave enough to destroy all the Muslims from Mumbai. Jamal and Salim stare at him and see holding a bow and an arrow in his right hand. Since Jamal and Salim are Muslims thinking that he will kill them they start running some more away from him. Now, the flashback turns to the TV show where Jamal is being asked a question. The question says, “In the depictions of God Rama, he is famously holding what in his right hand?” Jamal answered, “D. a bow and arrow. ” The questioner says, “You are absolutely right. ” Jamal answers this question when he remembers the blue painted boy that he encountered on the day his mother was killed. He remembered the day not because he loves or hates the Hindu people but it was the day he saw his mother for the last time. This is the scene when the mobs killed Muslims coming with a blue painted boy symbolizing their God and Jamal lost his mother.
The reason why the blue painted boy appeared in this particular scene is that, to show that the ethnic violence between Muslims and Hindus has become very serious. The Hindus have created a big tension among the Muslims. They have pushed Muslims out of home by threatening them that they would be killed unless they leave Mumbai. They want Muslims to leave Mumbai. Appadurai in his book Spectral Housing and Urban Cleansing writes as, “The deliberate effort to terrorize Bombay’s Muslims, to attack their vending stalls, to burn their shops and homes, to Hinduize their public spaces through violent ritual innovations, and to burn and maim their bodies can hardly be seen as a public policy solution to Bombay’s housing problems” (649). This is one of the evidence that shows how the Hindus want to defend their land by creating violence against Muslims. They want to Hinduize Mumbai. This is strictly against to the people living in Mumbai worshipping another religion that is not Hinduism. They have created public terror and have confronted Muslims with the message that there was no space for them and that they would be hunted down and killed if they haven’t left Mumbai.
Different people have been migrating to Mumbai especially Muslims. This has created congestion and ethnically mixed people. This has resulted in ethnic fear between Muslims and the Hindus. The Hindus want to make Mumbai “ethnically cleansed city” (Appadurai, 645). They don’t want Mumbai to be ethnically diverse to conserve their local ethnicity, Hinduism. Their intention is to make their land “the land of Hindus” (629), a place free of Muslims. They want to keep and inherit to the next generation their ethnic identity which is based on God Rama. They consider God Rama as the creator of their land, Mumbai. If we give full attention on this scene, we can see that it is intended to attract the audience attention by controlling the sound to make the audience give focus at the moment the boy appeared. When Jamal’s and Salim’s mother call them seeing the Hindu rioters, the sound was in slow motion. At the moment their mother is hit the sound become chaotic until the boys see the blue painted boy. At the instant, the boys see the blue painted boy the sound become in slow mode. I think the Hindu mobs bring the blue painted boy whose wearing and standing style is like God Rama to show their dominance and the superiority of their God and ethnic identification. Ethnic fear between the Hindus and Muslims has created a big tension between them.
The Hindus fear that their identity will be dominated or intermingled with the Muslims. Their reaction against globalization has become serious. To protect their ethnic identity from invasion they have started an anti-Muslim movement as we can see on the movie. Appadurai in his book Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy, writes as, “The central problem of today’s global interactions is the tension between cultural homogenization and cultural heterogenization” (295). This is an evidence, why the movement of people like Muslims to Mumbai is opposed by the Hindus. Cultural homogenization happens when local cultures are dominated by exotic ones, while cultural heterogenization is when different cultures exist together creating diversity. The Hindus don’t want either their culture to be homogenized or heterogenized. Culture and religion are strongly related. People who belong to the same culture have the same religion. In the case of the Hindus, the reason they don’t want their culture either to be homogenized or heterogenized is due to the fact that they want to defend their religion. Generally, the movie depicts different messages. It shows the social problems like poverty and politics. In addition to this, it also shows the identity issue which is mainly reflected in this scene. Throughout the movie there is a conflict even at the beginning it begins with Jamal Malik being beaten by the police because he is suspected that he cheats the answers. In this scene and movie, mainly poverty, ethnic violence, and religious conflicts are depicted.
The Hindus oppose globalization fearing that it will destroy their identity and religion. The Hindus want to have a pure culture, but different people are moving their area with different culture and religion. To defend their religion and Hindu space they start a violence against the Muslims because Muslims are largely moving to Mumbai. The ethnic fear increases serious confrontation between them. Efforts are made to destroy the Muslims from Mumbai by threatening them that if they stay in Mumbai that they will be killed. In this scene, we can see that all the Hindus are united and come together symbolizing their God by the blue painted boy, to prejudice the Muslims.