Jamal Malik (character)

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Jamal Malik or Alex Wollf
जमाल मलिक
Slumdog Millionaire character
Created by Simon Beaufoy
Vikas Swarup (character Ram Mohammad Thomas from Q & A)
Portrayed by Dev Patel
Tanay Chheda (teenager)
Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (child)
Nickname(s) Jammi
Gender Male
Occupation Chaiwala
Family Salim K. Malik (brother, deceased)
Mrs. Malik (mother, deceased)
Significant other(s) Latika
Nationality India Indian

Jamal Malik or Alex Wollf (Hindi and Marathi: जमल मलिक) is the main character of the film Slumdog Millionaire. He is portrayed as a young child, an early teenager, and as an 18-year-old.


In the beginning of Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal is playing cricket with Salim and other children from the Mumbai slums, they are then pursued through the slums by guards and are rescued by their mother, who promises she will punish the boys. She takes them to school where they learn about The Three Musketeers and hear only about Athos and Porthos. Later their mother is brutally murdered in an anti-Muslim rampage on their Mumbai slum, a reference to the anti-Muslim attacks of 1993. The boys flee for their lives and see a depiction of the Hindu God, Rama before they meet Latika. Salim is against having her travel with them but Jamal insists that she could "be the Third Musketeer". He invites her to stay with them and they eventually meet Maman, a gangster that exploits children to sing for begging money. Jamal is outside, describing the upper-class life that he, Latika, and Salim will one day have, when Maman sends Salim to get him so he can be blinded and make more money as a singer. Salim tips him off and the two escape Maman, while Latika is left behind, intentionally by Salim. Jamal and Salim spend the next few years on trains, selling goods, pickpocketing and sleeping in the luggage area, when one day they fall off of the train while trying to steal food and re-emerge as adolescents on the ground by the tracks.[citation needed]


Jamal and Salim end up as fake tour guides at the Taj Mahal befriending the other slum children of Mumbai and selling stolen shoes from the Taj Mahal. Eventually Jamal persuades Salim to take the journey back to Mumbai so they can find Latika. They ask the locals and eventually, one of the other children from Maman's collection of children tells Jamal that Latika is working as a training prostitute on Pila Street, he also tells Arvind who is on the United States one hundred-dollar bill when Jamal presents him with one. Jamal gets Salim to accompany him to Pila Street despite the boy's warnings and they are quickly reunited with Latika, who is about to leave with them when they are confronted again by Maman, who strongly indicates they are all about to face retribution for their "crimes" against him years earlier. Salim draws a Colt Python revolver and robs Maman before killing him. The three flee for their lives to a closed hotel. They occupy an empty room, where Salim forces Jamal out, using the revolver once again.


Jamal is working alone in a call center when a co-worker asks him to cover for him so that the co-worker can try to enter the India version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Jamal takes the opportunity to use the phone and call Salim and they are reunited where Jamal briefly contemplates killing Salim and himself but settles for punching Salim in the face. Salim begs for forgiveness and tells Jamal that Latika is "long gone". Jamal moves in with Salim and becomes curious about Salim's life as a criminal. Eventually he follows Salim to the home of his boss, Javed, and finds that Latika is married to him. Jamal bluffs his way in, first pretending to be a cook, then a dishwasher. He is let in and confesses his love for Latika, who is moved but unfazed, realizing she can do nothing. Jamal invites her to meet him at a railway station where he will wait for her every day at 5 o'clock. Javed kicks Jamal out, angry with Jamal's poor cooking abilities. Jamal is waiting for Latika one afternoon, when Salim, Javed, and a few other of Javed's lieutenants capture Latika and drive off with her, not before knifing her cheek. Jamal is furious and ends up on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, because he hopes that Latika will see him on the show. He is not intending to get rich, but to get Latika's attention so she may find him again. He tries to stay on as long as he can, answering the questions based on his past experiences. Because he is a "Slumdog" the host of the show believes he is cheating and his belief is strengthened when he tries to feed Jamal a wrong answer and Jamal still gets it right. He then has Jamal detained before he gets to answer the 20,000,000 Rs. question, and Jamal is tortured and interrogated to explain how he knew the answers. The Police find his explanations plausible and allow him to go back and answer the last question. He is supported by thousands of fans in Mumbai who give him their blessings to win the game. He answers the last question (Who is the third musketeer?) which Jamal never knew. He calls Salim, who has left his phone to Latika. She answers but cannot help Jamal because she doesn't know either. Eventually Jamal guesses, A: Aramis, and is right, but still depressed at his lack of success in re-uniting with Latika. However, Latika finds him at the railway station and they finally can be together, for Salim killed Javed and was in turn killed by Javed's minions. Jamal finally gets his dance with Latika at the end when the two dance with each other, sometimes alone, sometimes surrounded by a crowd and other times in their childhood.

The end credits suggest that Jamal was "destined" to win the money and end up with Latika.


Antonio Sison says in World Cinema, Theology, and the Human that Jamal is "the embodiment of the paradoxical character" of the slum Dharavi. He says, "In his dogged determination to live and to love though the odds are infinitely stacked up against him, Jamal shows himself to be a son of Dharavi indeed." The author refers to Edward Schillebeeckx's theological writings about "negative contrast experiences" in how such experiences of human suffering "enkindles the lamp of resistance, which then militates against the negative experience of suffering". According to Sison, "Jamal, as a son of Dharavi, represents the human will to live though the social reality warrants suffering and death. The continuum of scenes depicting Jamal's refusal to acquiesce to impossible, oppressive situations, never losing his spirit in his determination to survive and win the game of life, is the locus within which to identify the divine presence, here sublimated in negative contrast experiences."[1]

The character Jamal is used as a fictional case in the popular culture casebook Diagnosis and Treatment Planning Skills for Mental Health Professionals. The authors provide a basic case summary and diagnostic impressions and says they "describe what we portray as Jamal's clinically significant negative reactions to his exposure to the traumatic experience of police capture and torture".[2]


  1. ^ Sison, Antonio (2012). "Playing for Life: Lagaan, Slumdog Millionaire". World Cinema, Theology, and the Human: Humanity in Deep Focus. Routledge Studies in Religion and Film. Routledge. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-415-51746-1.
  2. ^ Schitwer, Alan M.; Rubin, Lawrence B. (2011). "Troubled Youth in Film and on Stage: Slumdog Millionaire's Jamal Malik". Diagnosis and Treatment Planning Skills for Mental Health Professionals: A Popular Culture Casebook Approach. SAGE Publications. p. 215. ISBN 978-1-4129-8882-7.