The journey in which the hero endures both physical challenges and emotional thresholds of revelation is a major part of Boyle's film. One can see this in a different context in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Frodo's journey is similar in both depth and emotional fortitude as what Jamal endures. Frodo must battle through formidable elements to accomplish his journey of returning the ring, while Jamal must fight through modern formidable elements to be reunited with Latika. The journey that both protagonists endure is a significant part of the narrative.
Certainly, the prototype of the journey would have to be Odysseus. Homer'sOdyssseyfeatures Odysseus having to battle for nearly a decade in order to simply go home. Something so elemental requires so much in way of commitment, guile, and determination. For Malik, his elemental notion that proves to be so elusive is being with Latika. Both men are not consumed with conquering the world or amassing riches beyond expectations. They simply wish to find happiness or contentment and must do so through an arduous journey. Both men use guile and intelligence in order to maximize their chances of finding happiness and their reunion with the one they love makes their journeys worthwhile.