Wednesday, January 14, 2009

About the hype surrounding "Slumdog Millionare'

I gotta admit, I've been a fan of Danny Boyle ever since "Trainspotting". So I'm really happy with the critical acclaim his latest movie is receiving. We're even more happy with the subject matter of the film. The movie shows life in an Indian slum, where more than 17 million are homeless.

Now that "Slumdog Millionare" has received a couple of awards we thought it would be time to visit the film and the controversy. Many children will not escape the slums of India as Boyle's children try to do. However, any attempt to shed light upon the terrible conditions of a slum should be applauded. For those realities are unknown to most in the west.

An article from the Post Chronicle from writer Rina Chandran sums up the debate nicely.

"Slumdog Millionaire," which tells the rags-to-riches tale of an orphan from such a slum, won four Golden Globe awards
on Sunday, including one for Indian music composer AR Rahman.

But there is little upbeat or ambitious about Nehru Nagar, and some newspapers have criticized Boyle for romanticizing the slums and peddling such grim realities as the beggar mafia, prostitution and crime as "Indian exotica."

Others have sprung to Boyle's defense.

"If through (the movie) the world gets a peek at an India inhabited by millions of people who continue to live their lives without clean water, sanitation or electricity, what is the problem?" wrote Kalpana Sharma, author of a book on Dharavi, Asia's largest slum, in the Indian Express paper.

India's own film industry, best known for its racy action flicks and lush romances, has delved before into the slums in Mumbai occasionally, and there is growing interest from tourists.

Reality Tours & Travel, which offers guided tours of Dharavi, calls the slum "a place of poverty and hardship but also a place of enterprise and humor," saying the tours are meant to dispel the negative image that many people have about slums in Mumbai.

"People want to understand how the country works, experience a culture that is alien to them and goes beyond the standard tourist spots," said co-founder Chris Way.

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