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Cultural Diffusion in the Film Slumdog Millionaire

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Cultural diffusion is found heavily throughout the modern world, people in foreign nations have similar experiences as people in the United States despite being thousands of miles apart. Television and social media unite people in so many ways enabling cultural diffusion to occur yet in many instances, cultural diffusion is started by nations ruling over others. “Slumdog Millionaire” is based in India, a nation that was once controlled and run by the British Empire. Despite British colonialism in India ending in 1947 many aspects of British culture remained including the language, pop culture, and television. In “Slumdog Millionaire” Jamal explains his life story and how he was able to win 20 million rupees on the TV show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The show itself exemplifies the effect of the British on Indian culture as well as the questions asked to Jamal throughout the movie. Consequently, “Slumdog Millionaire” is key to exposing their vast amount of cultural diffusion that is found throughout the modern world.

Jamal was a poor peasant boy that faced many struggles throughout his life, he truly lived through hardship after hardship and the opportunity to be on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” was one in a lifetime. The questions that Jamal was asked were extremely random and strange that a peasant like himself would know yet, many had to do with foreign ideas. For example, Jamal was asked about the name of the third musketeer in Alexander Dumas’s “Three Musketeers.” Dumas was a French writer, not an Indian one. Jamal knew the answer to this question because, as a child, he was forced to know the characters of the book by his teacher. This shows how European literature had somehow found a way to hold importance and infiltrate Indian society. Also, in the movie, Jamal and Salim are offered two bottles of coca-cola by Maman in an attempt to gain the two boys’ trust. Despite it appearing to be a simple bottle of coke, it shows how widespread American products are in other nations, it is a common drink over there that appeals to people as much as it appeals to people in the United States. Consequently, it can be seen that cultural diffusion is present within this movie yet there are plenty of more examples that can be found.

A blatant example of globalization is the mere fact that English is spoken in India, there are many cultural groups in India that speak a variety of languages and yet English is one that many know and want to learn. In addition, Jamal works as an assistant in a call center that speaks to people in the United Kingdom. The entire workspace is dedicated to British culture and the workers speak to Scottish, English, Irish and even Welsh people. This is a massive example of cultural diffusion, it shows that India desires to have a similar mindset and culture as western nations. Lastly, the movie exemplifies how India was becoming more of a tourist destination. As India brings in more tourists in places such as the Taj Mahal, cultures will cross and ideas and concepts will combine and mix. Jamal and Salim begin to create their own business at the Taj Mahal, allowing them to mix with Americans, Englishmen as well as other major western people. Jamal was given a $100 American bill, which was something he never felt and yet he knew of the importance of the different currencies. Jamal knew American money was worth much more exemplifying how western culture was praised and mixed into Indian society.

Overall, “Slumdog Millionaire” is an outstanding film that showcases Indian life in a multitude of ways. This film represents how society and the world are slowly becoming smaller and smaller. Nations are mixing their cultures bringing in aspects from other nations that at first seem extremely foreign. This film highlights more than just the cultural aspects it shows the differences in the way people live in India, it shows the massive class gap where either you live comfortably or you live in the slums. India is a slowly growing country that wants to achieve the level of respect and importance that Britain and the United States hold. This film “Slumdog Millionaire” represents how similar people are across the world, we all just want to succeed and live life to the fullest way that we can.

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