Slumdog Millionaire Prize Narrative

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John Street’s article, “Showbusiness of a serious kind”, discusses how prizes and their winners are created, and how different factors affect the prizes’ success. Street suggests that the prizes’ success “is measured in units of publicity” (Street, 2005, p. 832), meaning that the extent of media coverage is directly correlated to it. Hence, using the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, I will be examining how the variety game show in the film, which is the prize narrative, becomes successful due to its level of publicity. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ revolves around a main lead Jamal, who grows up in the slums and participates as a contestant on the game show ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’. The fact that Jamal has been chosen to participate in the game show out of possibly thousands of better educated applicants strikes me as unusual, and hence is an issue that I would like to investigate with regards to the hidden motives behind the choice of nominees for prizes. Although Street primarily analyses arts prizes while ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ focuses on a variety game show, they are still relatable as they involve nomination and media coverage through television broadcast and scandals as a form of publicity. According to Street, one possible hidden intention behind the choice of nominees is for the purpose of increasing publicity. Street identifies choosing the right nominees as the most important attribute to generating coverage and claims that “Awards ceremony should deliver stars that make it worthy of coverage, especially on television” (Street, 2005, p. 832), which translates to the fact that the nominees of the prize would ultimately determine the extent of media coverage it gets. In ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, the game show tests the contestants on their knowledge. It is customary to have highly educated contestants such as doctors and lawyers, as they tend to possess wider general knowledge. However, Jamal, a lowly educated slum dweller who works as a chai walla, appears as a...
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