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Hit Movie A Dog Among Slum Dwellers

The Age

Wednesday January 14, 2009

Matt Wade, Delhi

LIFE in the alleyways of Mumbai's sprawling Juhu slum is revealed in the Golden Globe-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. But when Juhu locals were asked if they would like to watch the film, they were not very interested.

"We don't want to watch the film, we live the life it shows," 19-year-old Surajit Pal told The Times of India. He would prefer to see the Bollywood action blockbuster Ghajini, based on the western thriller Memento and doing big business in India.

Another Juhu resident, 21-year-old Vikas Mishra, said he could not understand why people would find a film of their slum interesting. "I don't like it here. It's not a nice place to stay," he said.

The hit movie about an impoverished orphan who wins the Hindi version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? has not even been released here yet. This meant Indian newspapers reporting the movie's success at the Golden Globe awards also had to explain what it was about.

India has celebrated the award given to A.R. Rahman - described as the Mozart of Madras by a Time magazine critic - for composing Slumdog's score. He is the first Indian to win a Golden Globe.

However, a hit film that deals with India's abject poverty also raises hackles.

"Is this once again a going-back to the West's voyeuristic obsession with joy amid poverty, vitality among the super-poor?" asked Hindustan Times columnist Mondy Thapar.

Indians will be able to judge for themselves when the film opens next week, but if the slum dwellers of Juhu are any guide, Slumdog Millionaire may soon run out of lifelines in the land of a million movies.

© 2009 The Age

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