Watching time: Slumdog Millionaire and national ontology

Lakshmi Padmanabhan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The child is special now. This is not an ordinary child, this is an Oscar child. In 2009, the Sunday Times reported that one of the child actors of the film Slumdog Millionaire (hereafter Slumdog), Rubina Ali, was to be illegally sold to pay for her family's livelihood. Rubina's uncle described her as an “Oscar child,” justifying the higher price they had asked for, and permanently marking her body as a part of the film she had acted in the year before. This link made between Rubina and Slumdog materially embodies the links that I will trace through this chapter. Using Amit Rai's arguments on media assemblages and Brian Massumi's arguments on ontology and temporality, I trace the multiple subjectivities and temporalities of Slumdog as a media event. I argue that reading the film's fractured temporalities allows for an understanding of how the nation functions within the filmic time-space. Two terms recur through this chapter that merit definition. The first is the “media assemblage.” The idea of the assemblage builds on the work of several philosophers, particularly Gilles Deleuze and Henri Bergson. As Jasbir Puar explains in her work, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (2007), the assemblage, as a series of dispersed but mutually implicated and messy networks, draws together enunciation and dissolution, causality and effect and organic and nonorganic forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Slumdog Phenomenon
Subtitle of host publicationA Critical Anthology
PublisherAnthem Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780857282958
ISBN (Print)9780857280015
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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