Posted on Feb 23, 2009
It may be the best picture, but Hirsh Sawhney writes in the Guardian that “Slumdog Millionaire” is a simplistic text that “far from spreading the blame for global poverty ... actually suggests that the west is the solution to India’s problems.”
Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, the runaway favourite for the best picture Oscar tomorrow night, is precisely one of these simplistic texts. It contains a smattering of all the major Indian hot buttons: call centres, religious riots, urban development, sex workers, the Taj Mahal –and, of course, slums.
The film, which traces the life of Jamal Malik from the devastatingly poor streets of Mumbai to his deliverance on the TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire, has elicited some furious reactions in India. Many have pointed out that the slum children Boyle used as actors weren’t fairly compensated for their performances. A group of protestors in the city of Patna burned Slumdog posters and ransacked a theatre where the film was being screened, claiming that film’s depiction of slum dwellers was a “violation of human rights.” Some Indian commentators insinuated that the movie has been successful in the west because uses “poverty porn” to “titillate foreign audiences”.