‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is a British film directed by Danny Boyle which is an adaption of the novel ‘CAA’ by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup. Jamal Malik the protagonist of the movie, a young man from the Dharavi slums of Mumbai appears on the ‘Who wants to be A Millionaire?’ show on television and does exceeding well; arousing the suspicions of the game show host and the police. The movie was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 2009 and won eight.
While ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ did exceedingly well at the awards it was not well received by the country it depicted. The depiction of India’s below the poverty line dwellers was not well received in times when the world is talking about India’s amazing economic growth and it’s remarkably sustained GDP. Amitabh Bachchan, a stalwart of Bollywood cinema was upset that the movie projected India as a third-world underbelly nation and said that it hurt the sentiments of both nationalists and patriots. He even went on to say that a murky underbelly exists in most developed nations as well.
The truth is that 1/3rd of the world’s poorest people are Indians and 40% of the world’s children subject to malnutrition live in India. Add to that the number of children living on the street, in the slums, those working in prostitution, and those working as child laborers, poverty really is staring us in the face. Perhaps, what really hurt the most was that a foreigner made money by making a movie about our poverty.
‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is not about poverty as much as it is about the triumph of the human spirit. It portrayed breath-taking enthusiasm, dignity, decency and honor in the face of dire adversity. It depicted the soul of India. We are a nation that has been repeatedly stripped bare by different invaders, still we are a force to contend with. It is our spirit, our values that make us such a strong force. Our poverty, though undesirable, is something we cannot run away from. Danny Boyle might have chosen Indian poverty as the backdrop for this movie but that is not what the movie is about, it is a movie about the undying Indian spirit. ‘Jai Ho!’ meaning ‘May victory be yours’ the theme song of the movie couldn’t say it better.