I have been to see the celebrated Slumdog Millionaire film, with my daughter and a friend this week.
I have hesitated in posting about it, as it is difficult to actually put my feelings about it into words. So I apologise if this is more meandering than usual, but I will try.
The story - and I won't give it all away- is about the city street children, two brothers and their friends. The kids collect rubbish from the refuse mountains that they sleep on and which they are seemingly surrounded by in Mumbai, India. After appearing on the Indian version of 'Who wants to be a millionaire' Lamal is accused of cheating and is interrogated about his answers. The story that follows is Lamal's story and explains how he comes to know so much.
The film is a feel good film for sure, but it feels a bit incongruous given that much of it deals with the harsh realities of the children -of all ages- living on the streets and of what appears to be the commonplace abuse of these children, by not only the adults looking to exploit them in exchange for a meal and a roof, but also by their contemporaries, more like dog eat dog.
I felt a bit like l did when I saw Shindlers List or Life is Beauitful in saying what a brilliant film it was afterwards but feeling uncomfortable about it at the same time. That is so hard to say when it seems to be at such a cost to these children. I'm sitting there stuffing my face with sweets or popcorn and the people on screen are starving and being abused and manipulated. What price this enjoyment l thought! I love to be transported in books and films, but this didn't sit so comfortably.
On Friday I saw on BBC Breakfast TV a feature on a real life Indian Who wants to be Millionaire winner. He won 1,000,000 rupees. He still lives in the same one room home with his family and mother. He still drives his taxi cab, he has spent his winnings on a mobile phone, a fish tank and exotic fish, a washing machine and dishwasher, a flat screen tv and other 'luxuries' for his family. He is a very happy man. He continually plays a recording of his winning appearance on the show o his tv and mobile phone. Now of course, he is a celebrated local!
There are hundreds and hundreds of films made in India and some on this subject. These aren't seen around the world. The fact that this film has an Indian author, the diplomat Vikas Swarup and has been made by a British director Danny Boyle - and l believe is a C4 produced film- it will actually be seen around the world.
In the Sunday papers I've read about the Indian premiere this week, apparently Anil Kapoor the famous actor, who plays the quiz show presenter, grew up in a slum himself, said the film, "...would be terrific inspiration to kids all over India.....It's a a film of hope.''
India Knight writes that it educates and entertains all audiences, British, American as well as Indian. I heartily concur.
btw if anyone knows where I can get some 'Bollywood' type dance classes let me know, it looks so much fun!
In case you are left in any doubt I did love the film!
thanks David!! Author blog award