“Your destiny is in your hands brother” To what extent do the characters in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ have control over their own fate? Throughout the course of the film, each character displays differing amounts of control over their lives. Latika has limited influence over her destiny unlike Salim who has the most. Jamal however, experiences a mix of influences as well as his own decisions which influence his fate. Latika lives her life making minimal decisions about her destiny. As a young, beautiful, female, she is constantly targeted by men.
As this began when she was an orphaned child, it became her way of life. She never had to make decisions about her life, as someone was always there to do it for her. When she does try to take control, such as when her, Salim and Jamal ran away from Maman, it resulted in her being punished. This control by men is highlighted in the close up Salim letting go of Latikas hand during their escape from Maman. This action ultimately decides that she will be under Mamans control. Again, whilst in Mamans possession, her path is being chosen for her.
Maman decides that she will become a prostitute as he see’s her as a way for him to make money. “Have you any idea what this virgin is worth? ” Once rescued, Latika comes under Salims control, as is Jamal partly. Again, whilst she is with the brothers, she needs not make any decisions as they are all made for her. Salim decides that Latika is now his, not Jamals. “I’m number one now”. He emphasizes this through the closing of the hotel room door, which is seen in a close up shot from Jamals perspective.
Salim again takes control of Latika in scene 24 which is seen through the wide shot of Salim giving Latika his car keys. This scene highlights Salims control over Latika yet again, however it also displays that Latika is finally making decisions for herself, to go after Jamal, even if the opportunity is set up by Salim and is highly influenced by him. Initially, Jamal is seen to have minimal control over the direction of his life. The audience see’s Salim as having a major influence as to where he goes and what he does.
The first major time this is seen is in a close up shot of Salim pushing Jamal out the water after their mother is killed. This highlights Jamals dependence on his brother and his inability to take control in times of crisis. This theme arises again when Salim locks Jamal in the toilet. Salim may have taken initial control in this scene, however through the low angle shot of Jamal looking down into the toilet, the audience see’s Jamal beginning to take control. As the film continues, the theme of fate begins to play it’s part.
Through the quick cuts between Jamal and Latika when Latika is trying to find Jamal, displays them converging together. This gives the audience the idea that it is their fate to be together. Jamal does take control over his destiny when he decides to search for Latika yet again. “That guy, he will never give up” highlights Jamals dedication to finding Latika. Jamal has more control over his fate than Latika, however, he allows Salim to control him when they are together. Salim displays the most control, out of the three main characters, over his fate.
On the surface, it appears that Salim controls the majority of his destiny through his decisions. However, this is inaccurate. Salim tends to be thrust into unwanted situations and manipulates them to his liking. This can be seen through his experience with Javed. This is not a situation he wants to be in, however, he decides to make the most of it through accepting a position of control. This can be seen through the low angle shot of Salim and the truck whilst he watches his work party.
It highlights his dominant nature as well as the fact that he chose that path for himself, he wanted to control his peers. He again takes control when he pushes Jamal out of the hotel room, stating that he is “the boss”. The idea that Salim has entire control over his life is again highlighted when Maman tells him “Your destiny is in your hands. ” Salim takes control in many other situations, however other factors contribute to his fate as well. Such as when he follows Jamal back to Bombay to find Latika. We came back to find her” This shows how Salim is bound by a compulsion to protect his younger brother Jamal which came about when his mother died. This burden often influences how and why he does certain things. Even though Salim doesn’t really like Latika at all, he loves his brother and will do anything for him. The audience sees Salim evolve after he kills Maman, this change influences him to make the decision to work for Javed. This decision appears to be everything Salim has been working towards. It would also appear that his continued working for Javed would be his decision.
However his customised ringtone for Javed, which the audience hears on many occasions, suggests that Salim is now completely under his control. Each of the characters experience differing levels of control over their lives. Salim has the most control, however he still is not in complete control whilst Latika lives a life that is almost completely decided for her by external forces. Jamal lives a life where parts are chosen for him, parts he decides to follow others and parts where he does what he wants. In the end, each of their destinies is in “their hands”.