A Mumbai teenager reflects on his life after being accused of cheating on the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”.
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.
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.