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Slumdog Millionaire

A snap shot of Indian slum life or ''poverty porn'' to titillate western audiences? What is your opinion?
11 years ago, February 25th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #64020  

That world, though real to hundreds of millions of Indians, is sharply at odds with how modern India sees itself. Many Indian viewers are highly uncomfortable with the depiction of the slumland, the deliberate maiming of children and police torture.

"There are no mass celebrations in the slum," says Ganesh, who works for a travel agency in Dharavi, where much of the movie is set. "Most people in Dharavi haven't even seen the movie."

The film has been sharply criticised as "poverty porn". Well-respected local filmmakers have described the film as titillating western audiences with its portrayal of slum life.

'Slumdog' Oscar success splits India

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11 years ago, March 1st 2009 No: 2 Msg: #64432  

Many Indian viewers are highly uncomfortable with the depiction of the slumland, the deliberate maiming of children and police torture.

yes, it is a very uncomfortable couple of scenes, thats the point. This guy has an awful life, but he does the right thing in his life, works hard and finally comes good.
it doesnt glorify it or encourage it - unlike many american films that glorify poverty and gangster life in black america and rarely get criticized.

It is a western film for western audiences - Bollywood movies deal with their characters and storys totally diffferently, and the audiences expect a totally different set of ideals and messages from their films.
I can see why local filmmakers would be upset.

But it is a slick, cleverly made and directed film, as well as a brave and entertaining piece of storytelling. Remember, Danny Boyle made Trainspotting which caused a massive outrage for glorifying heroin. Reply to this

11 years ago, March 2nd 2009 No: 3 Msg: #64458  
B Posts: 24
A regular indian Bollywood movie which does not deal with poverty is not going to get accolades in the West! Slumdog got rave reviews in the US. After seeing the movie, I was a little surprised by those rave reviews. The movie is good but not great, at least not Oscar worthy, in my opinion. That is what most Indians will say. And I bet even the cast and the crew of the movie would have been surprised after receiving those nominations. After all the movie was going straight to DVD and now it is the most decorated movie of 2008!
So yes, if an Indian movie has to receive any critical accolades in the West, it has to deal with the subject that conforms with the image of India in the West, and that is poverty. And of course, the middle class and Indian elite does not want to see India equated with poverty! Reply to this

11 years ago, March 2nd 2009 No: 4 Msg: #64480  
Hem got a point there. The movie is actually good, entertaining and to a point even "deep", but it's hard to believe that during the whole 2008 nothing better than that have been produced worldwide. If we compare it to 2007 winner "No country for old men", for instance, the choice of "Slumdog Millionaire" results embarassing, to say the least. And again, I agree with Hem when he says that even Danny Boyle and the crew itself must have been extremely surprised at the hype their movie created.
I'm afraid that sometimes these kind of choices are political rather than merely artistic.
Marco Reply to this

11 years ago, March 2nd 2009 No: 5 Msg: #64491  
B Posts: 109
maybe people need to remember that very few movies portray the real place.

You hear of people desperate to move to the United States..(from poorer parts of the world) thinking that the movies are real... people thinking white women will sleep around with anyone, are scantily dressed and promiscuous... rich and money everywhere

the few movies (that are world famous) about Australia are so not representitive of what it is really like here.. Crocodile Dundee.. things like that.. Australians are often made fun of 😉

Hopefully people realise movies are movies... escapism, story telling.. and often not truly representative. Reply to this

11 years ago, March 2nd 2009 No: 6 Msg: #64507  
I rarely watch Hollywood blockbusters about Ireland(where I am from). They are boring because they are way too glossy. Some of the films they make about Ireland just dont show what it is like so I quickly lose interest. I dont know if they use the wrong actors or if they dont know anything about the country or if they just are not skilled enough to bring the message accross. One movie that stands out in my memory about how Hollywood managed to trash an important story is 'Angelas Ashes'. I really had to read the book to get the story. I havent seen Slumdog but it probably did the same. ie made it way too glossy.....

Occassionally I watch a Hollywood movie, but it is a bit like reading a glossy magazine instead of a book. It gives me a couple of tuning out hours when I feel like having a couple of hours like that.
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11 years ago, March 2nd 2009 No: 7 Msg: #64517  
B Posts: 151
I must admit I got curious on what's the hype all about Slumdog Millionaire winning the Oscar's best picture so I decided to watch it few nights ago. I thought of it as a present-day Indian parody of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, but a lot more contrived in a clever way.

Although it made me laugh and cringe at times (especially when Jamal emerged from the sh*t pit), I am surprised it did not make me cry ... as I weeped inconsolably after watching Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List when children hid in the septic tank to avoid execution....but then again, the scenes are in different context.

I usually bawl my eyes out everytime I watch a tear-jerker film, but this one didn't do it for me (...bit disappointed really). 😞

.... and certainly didn't find anything titillating about poverty to say the least.

As what Bobbie (travellingmum) says, it's just another form of escapism and story-telling.

P.S. Gotta love the usual Bollywood singing and dancing at the end-credit though 😊 .
Reply to this

11 years ago, March 2nd 2009 No: 8 Msg: #64562  
lets not get into an argument about the quality of films that the academy choose as worthy of award - that is flawed every year!!!!

I didnt find it titillating about poverty either - it reminded me of 'city of god' - especially the slum chase scene - but at least it ends with a song and dance routine... very missed these days in western films!! Reply to this

11 years ago, March 3rd 2009 No: 9 Msg: #64607  
Maybe slums are not something countries should be ashamed of afterall. Can we really learn something from them?

....And there are thinkers who take the idea a step further, arguing that slums should prompt the rest of us to reconsider our own cities. While the idea of emulating slums may seem absurd, a number of planners and environmentalists say that we would do well to incorporate their promising elements.

Learning from slums Reply to this

11 years ago, March 3rd 2009 No: 10 Msg: #64673  
If you have seen 'Slumdog Millionaire' will you be visiting Dharavi slum on your next visit to Mumbai India? Would you go to India especially to see it? Reply to this

11 years ago, March 6th 2009 No: 11 Msg: #65111  
I for one was morbidly fascinated by the slum scenes in the slumdog movie. I had thought I'd seen the worst in slum life and poverty when I visited Manila last summer, but Manila in retrospect seems tamed and controlled compared to what I saw in the movie. I have never been to India; I only know about India from friends who are from India, and none of them are interested in watching a movie that shows kids squatting and shitting in an outhouse. India is near the top of my of

100 places to visit before I die

list, third actually; Mongolia is number one and China is second. After seeing the slumdog movie it has now replaced China as number two, and I will definitely find a way to get to Dharavi once I get there. I probably should go there soon before they bulldoze the whole place to make a megamall. Reply to this

11 years ago, March 6th 2009 No: 12 Msg: #65112  

I probably should go there soon before they bulldoze the whole place to make a megamall.

Well, there is no shortage of slums in India. You will find plenty at least like Dharavi to visit. Reply to this

11 years ago, March 7th 2009 No: 13 Msg: #65195  

11 years ago, April 9th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #68823  
B Posts: 5,195
I hadn't seen the movie when this topic first came up - so stayed quiet. I did recently see it. I haven't been to India - but it is high on my list as well.

I enjoyed the movie very much. I don't think it glamorises anything very much - The Who Want's to be a Millionaire show is shown to be corrupt, the police corrupt, the criminals, well criminal - does poverty really titillate?

I don't think it does - anyone who has been broke can understand a little of how it feels - so few of us have ever been as poor as those living in the slums. It isn't pleasant, it's a continual case of wondering how the next day is going to be got through, it's hard slog because the labour saving devices that we rely on in our modern lives can't be afforded.

I think what does titillate audiences is the rags to riches story - the colour of an exotic culture (even if not portrayed entirely accurately) - a story of boy meets girl separated and reunited showing that love conquers all - that's what people liked about this film. That's what I liked about this film.

And it was nice to have a happy ending! - a well made, well scripted film - but that's all it was a movie.

Did anyone read "Shantaram" - David Gregory Roberts - again a similar setting but even more far fetched, more violent, more horrific and graphic (with many autobiographical elements) - apparently it too will be made into a movie - I'll be interested in the results. Reply to this

11 years ago, April 10th 2009 No: 15 Msg: #69073  
I thought this movie was the 2nd best I've ever seen .I'm a 42year old man and I left that cinema with tears in my eyes Reply to this

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