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The Moment of Truth

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | June 1, 2009

Posted by Cliff Tuttle. (c) 2009

In the Academy Award Winning Film, “Slumdog Millionaire”, the hero, Jamal, is being interrogated by the police. He was one question away from winning the top prize, 200 Million Rupees, in the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” The nightly show ended just as the final question was about to be read. As Jamal is leaving the studio, he is arrested by the police.  The show’s producers have reported him for cheating.

Why cheating?  Because a slumdog like Jamal, who grew up as an orphan in the streets of Mumbai, should never be able to answer more than two or three questions.  After torture does not work, Jamal explains how, through stories from his life, he happened to know the answers to question after question.  It is a grim story full of horrific visions. Scenes from the quiz show cut away to scenes from Jamal’s life of some times nauseating, sometimes hair raising adventure. 

The host of the show is no Regis Philbin.  He is an insulting comedian in the style of Don Rickles. His jokes about Jamal are quite brutal, but along the way he appears to be giving Jamal a modicum of grudging respect.

Then comes the moment of truth.  During a commercial break, host and contestant are alone in the men’s room.  Jamal confesses that he does not know the answer to the next to last question. The host gives Jamal encouragement and after the host has left Jamal discovers the letter “B” written on a steamy mirror surface.

Back on the air, Jamal uses the 50-50 option.  The remaining answers are B and D.  

Jamal still doesn’t know the answer, but there are now only two choices.  Should he trust the host or not? But even if the host is telling him the winning answer, should he accept it?

He looks deeply into the eyes of the host and makes his decision. “D”, he says.  The host tries to cajole Jamal to change his answer.  Jamal hangs tough.  “D” turns out to be correct.

Did Jamal read the mind of the host?  Or did he decide he’d rather lose the game and the money than his honor?

Could you read the deception if you had been in his place? How would you have chosen?



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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