Psychological Studies

, 54:194 | Cite as

Salaam Slumdog! Personal and cultural trauma and restitution in the Mumbai slums

  • Alfred Collins
Original Article


The film “Slumdog Millionaire” when viewed together with the earlier “Salaam Bombay!” penetrates into the cultural psychology of urban India, revealing continuity with traditional Indian esthetic theories and commonality with psychoanalytic self psychologies. In films where plot is secondary and character is everything, we are led deep into the essence of the heroes’ feelings and learn to appreciate how being loyal to affect points the way to selfhood. Both films explore the psyches of boys struggling to hold on to fundamental “blueprints” of selfhood in the face of environments which seem to deny them any chance of fulfillment. While “Salaam Bombay!” presents a tragic and depressive response to the trauma and deprivation of slum life, “Slumdog Millionaire” appears grandiose and manic. Beneath the surface, both films sustain faith that these children can and will find the families they need to flourish. While hope is deferred in “Salaam!” it is ultimately achieved in “Slumdog.”


Deprivation Individual Karuna Narcissism Psychoanalysis Self 


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Copyright information

© National Academy of Psychology (NAOP) India 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AnchorageUSA

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