Friday, November 6, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire--What's the Point?

While on a recent road trip from Texas to Michigan, we stayed in motels along the way and at our destination. Since we do not subscribe to HBO at home, watching it on TV is a treat for us. Our lives do not revolve around movies, in fact, we may see two a year—sometimes not that many. As I checked the schedule one night, I saw that Slumdog Millionaire was a primetime feature. Great! I wouldn’t have to stay up far past my bedtime to watch a movie.

I told my husband the movie we’d see (he doesn’t care, and allows me to be the film critic of the family.) Indeed, we watched the entire movie, enjoying some parts, distressed at others. When it ended, my husband asked: “What was the point of the story?”

Very good question.

Plot: A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums becomes a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Because he knows answers he shouldn’t with his non-existent education, he is accused of cheating. The police arrest, interrogate, and torture him. During the interrogation, he tells the story of his life, including specific events that explain why he knows the answers.

Summary: The story is a fairy tale with great imagery and a happy ending—exhilarating, in fact. The movie will invoke pity, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise, and happiness. You will want to cheer at the end. This combination is a perfect mix of emotions for every superb story.

But what is the point of Slumdog Millionaire? It is “How do we come to know the things we know about life and love?” (One comment about the movie gave this reason. I agree.)

The two young brothers in the story had no chance to learn anything about love except from other slum children and each other. Certainly their environment gave them pain, hunger, filth, extreme poverty, and fear. And yet, even after they lost their mother to a murderer, they seemed happy and cocky, fearless in many cases, and accepting of their surroundings. How could such a thing happen to these pitiful, hapless children?

Those of us who write about life and love draw on our human experiences. Each person has a unique story, and our beliefs and memories help shape our novels, our short stories, and us as adults. Even when a normal person like Stephen King can author such horrific tales, something along the way shaped his belief system and his memory bank.

The older brother in Slumdog acted as friend, teacher, and protector to the younger one—the brother who becomes the contestant. But as they neared the teen years, the older brother turned criminal the day he picked up a Colt 45 and realized he had power after all. He turned against his brother—or did he?

Watch the movie.

My published novels are a Western Historical Romance and one Western Contemporary Romance. My Coming Soon novel is also Western Historical. But…I also have several novel-length stories in my files. Some are women’s fiction with a light romance. A couple of them border on Inspirational romance. One is almost a YA novel. Whatever category they may fit, each one contains what I have learned and absorbed in my lifetime.

What I know about love and life appears—to some degree—in my stories. What about yours? Do you agree?

Celia Yeary
SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK: eBook available at:

Print and eBook available at:


  1. Hi Celia,
    Interesting post and great insight. I've been curious about the movie so am glad you gave some details.

    Yes, I agree, what we know about life and love comes out in our stories. How could it not as that's what we know and have experienced or been exposed to.

    Keep the great posts coming! I so enjoy them.

  2. I was a bit disappointed in the movie. To me it's more about the horrid life they live. So bad for the common man.

  3. Wonderful post, Celia! I haven't watched it because I wasn't sure it looked more than depressing and political. Not that I avoid political topics but I'm wary when they come from Hollywood.

    Anyway, Yes! What I've learned through the years about life and love is fully filtered into every book I write. That's mainly what I write (fictional, of course). Sometimes the point is just to see why and how for some particular person/people. Isn't that the basis of novels?

  4. Hey Celia,
    Great insight into the film. I have to admit I've never seen it. It did seem like a difficult film to watch. But it made you think and I do like movies that make you feel and make you think.

  5. Linda--thanks! I'm not particularly endorsing the movie--there were a couple of things hard to watch, in fact, It made me angry. But that's what the movie did--evoked many emotions! Celia

  6. MARY--it was horrid in most ways. It's difficult to believe humans actually live like that. When my dh asked--"What's the point?", he was being critical, not philisophical. He didn't like it and saw no point to it. Celia

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Just so you know, the deleted comment was mine! I had a couple of typos. I'll try again. Celia

  9. LORAINE--I didn't think the movie was political--just a fairy tale filled with frightening events, poor children,and a happy-ever-after-ending. The relationship between the brothers as they grew up was interesting to me. Celia

  10. CINDY--I'm not endorsing the movie--you would have a difficult time with it--young children horribly mistreated. One part made me very angry.Celia

  11. Interesting and insightful post, Celia. I will now make a point to see the movie, if only to discover if the brotherly bond survives the slums.

  12. I saw the movie. It left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I have never been to India so I couldn't understand how some disgusting characters could blind a kid to make money out of him.

    I have watched extreme poverty in Egypt with kids searching the garbage piles for food, but no one tortures children. They have flies in their eyes and cheepish smiles on their lips.

    I think the movie meant to attract attention to the slums of India.
    Don't watch it if you have a weak stomach. What's the point? As Celia's husband said.

  13. Oh I do love your analysis of this film. Very interesting post!