Poverty porn?: “Slumdog Millionaire” has attracted notice, both to the film itself and to its backdrop in Mumbai.
As “Slumdog Millionaire” continues to rack up critical accolades (not to mention awards-season promotional blitzes), the film has also drawn crowds to its setting in the slums of Mumbai, India. But does this kind of attention represent a welcome boon for tourism or a form of exploitation—“poverty porn”—for a city still recovering from last November’s terrorist attacks?
The movie’s recent premiere in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) sparked complaints among some of Dharavi’s estimated 1 million residents, who live and work in an area smaller than New York’s Central Park. But it also has boosted business for Reality Tours and Travel, which leads eight to 15 tourists a day on guided tours of the slum.
Reality Tours co-founder Chris Way estimates that sales are up by about 25% since Slumdog Millionaire’s release. Though he credits some of the increase to a gradual rebound in tourism after terrorist attacks in Mumbai killed more than 170 people in November, publicity surrounding the film has played a big role.