The Slumdog view

June 3, 2009


On a recent house-hunting trip in the suburbs of Mumbai, an enthusiastic real estate agent opened the French windows of a tenth-floor apartment and stepped aside to let us enjoy the view.

“It’s the Oscar view ma’am. The ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ view,” he said with a flourish as we took in the rows of slums spread out before us.

I have covered the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ “phenomenon” since December, when it first caught everyone’s attention. 

I have followed it through the Golden Globe win, the Oscars, the “poverty porn” allegations and all the controversies that have hit the film after the original blaze of glory.

No wonder then that the real estate agent’s statement rankled. “Slumdog Millionaire” was supposed to be a great movie that touched people all over the world, a film both critically acclaimed and honoured with Oscars.

The film also brought child actors Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail in the spotlight and gave them a life they could barely have dreamed of earlier.

Now, the same movie is being used to sell a side of life that really shouldn’t be up for sale. There are political parties gifting houses to Rubina and Azhar, even as the trust set up by the film’s producers tries to do the same. There have also been allegations of trafficking, allegations that not enough was being done to help the children.

The kids in question, Rubina and Azhar, have also changed in the process. When I first met the two, they seemed a little overwhelmed by all the attention. 

Now they seem used to the ways of the media, asking reporters for the name of their organisation and only then agreeing to interviews. Earlier, their answers were open and uninhibited, now they seem rehearsed.

When we now cover the “Slumdog Millionaire” story, it seems more to do with the aftermath of a success that no one can quite cope with. 

Director Danny Boyle put it best when he said “The film that we made should be a positive thing in their eyes and not a negative thing.”

As I walked out of that 10th-floor apartment, I had a feeling the “Slumdog Millionaire” saga was turning a little sour.


One comment

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Why is that the movie Slum Dog Millionaire is limited to million only, why not Billion? Why not Gazillion? – Or why not much more?

There is nothing to be proud of wearing the Oscar Cap, we know that India was ruled for 300 years by the Britishers and it is their contribution too is shared while projecting the Indian poverty line in the movie. Now we have no need to learn from them about our Indian poverty line, nor do we have the need to learn how to combat the Indian communal problems. The Britishers had precisely adopted divide and rule policy for the 300 years while they were ruling the country and the communal problems of India is the child birth of the Britishers contribution.

Quote with respect Mr. Bill Gates says – “I don’t think that I.Q is as fungible as I used to,” he says. “To succeed, you also have to know how to make choices and how to think more broadly.”

There is not a single example to be proud, where the Kaun Banega Crorepati TV show, has given a prize worth enough to any participants from the slums – or it is won.

If a son of a small advocate Mr. Bill Gates can reach to the heights and peaks of the world’s success – why not a child from Indian slums can dot it?

Why is that miserly approach even while weaving a dream for someone? Just because the movie is made by a handful of Britishers again, the Oscar is just the heard prize for India.

maneyrao @
No.165, Yeshoda Nilaya
5th Cross, Vinayaka Nagara
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Hoskote 562 114

Date: 05.06.2009

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