Rags to Raja

So I recently heard this supposedly incredible movie called Slumdog Millionaire. It won 8 Oscars this year. Hmm, sounds interesting. Lucky for me, it just came out in the cinema here last week. I heard about some of the child actor controversy, but I decided that I wouldn't make an opinion about it until I saw the movie for myself. I wanted to see what the hype was all about, and if it was good because it really was good, for if it was good just because the media and the Oscar people told everyone it was. There's a difference, people.

And it was amazing!! What I love so much about it is that it didn't portray the slums and the people in a way that is asking people to pity them like other films raising social awareness(take Angelina Jolie's Beyond Borders, for one example). It went along the lines of Constant Gardener (and its portrayal of Kibera) in choosing to show life in the slums, rather than death. The last thing the poor need is more pity. Even if 500 people pity a poor man it makes no difference in his life if no one does anything about it. Instead of being a sad and tragic pity party, Slumdog Millionaire portrays India as vibrant, pulsating, devastating, and chaotic. It celebrates life. It weaves together passion and poverty. Love triumphs over all, even in the slums.

The UN approximates that 1 billion people today live in slums [And they predict this number will double by 2030]

Slum = “a heavily populated urban area characterised by substandard housing and squalor”. And possessing several of the following:
• Inadequate access to safe water;
• Inadequate access to sanitation and other infrastructure;
• Poor structural quality of housing;
• Overcrowding; and
• Insecure residential status.

This is a map representing the location of the 30 biggest "mega-slums" in the World (circle size correlates with population size), according to Davis' book "Planet of Slums":

Wow, look at Mexico city.

Anyway, it's easy to look at slums (or a picture of a slum or a picture of statistics of slums) and forget that people actually live there. It's more than corrugated metal and tarps and open sewers. One good thing about this film is that it shows that slums are more than slums-they're full of life and people. People aren't just the numbers or statistics that we hear in the news, but have names and faces and members of families- and somebody's loved ones. Life goes on. People go to work and school. And Jamal and Salim and Latika could have just as easily been Khumar, Samal, Agharia, who perhaps fared a far worse fate. I don't think the American audience is ready to see that yet.

Who cares if it's not Indian enough, as Bollywood claims. The book was written by an Indian and adapted for film by a Westerner...it was made to be a blend of both worlds. However, the song and dance number in the credits was rather weak, in my opinion. Let me tell you that as of this moment, the world has more than enough Bollywood films. There's enough song and dance numbers to last till the end of time; I feel like I have the authority to say this confidently because I have already seen half of them. Not that I'm not knocking on them or anything.

1 comment

  1. You're amazing erin. I like the peeps mostly by your balcony


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