It is interesting to know that the children from Slumdog Millionaire have had similar real life circumstances as the roles they played. Many people say the movie is uplifting. That in spite of all the trials and tribulations Jamal undergoes, the movie ends happily for him. But it is a movie… and the end is sugar coated. My friend put it very well: “Everything bad that happens to him is because people do bad things to him. But everything good that happens to him is by accident”. In other words everything is against him; he only escapes his difficult childhood because ‘it is written’.This implies that the message of the movie is that you have to be lucky to aspire for a different life than the one you are born into. If one accepts such a message, then one accepts status quo when it comes to the disadvantaged and underprivileged people in the world today. There are millions of people are being exploited, but there are always people who will escape their circumstances through sheer luck. I volunteer for Asha for Education because I am not happy with the small number who escape through sheer luck - Asha wants everyone, or as many children as possible, to have opportunities to improve themselves. As the movie progressed, I thought of the millions of children in similar circumstances who are not going to win the million dollars. Many have complained that the movie focused only on the negative side of India, and some wonder whether all that indeed happens in India. But seeing this first hand and seeing reports from other Asha volunteers, we know that nothing in the movie is inaccurate.
- We work with organizations that fight the powerful channels that supply young girls to men.
- We work with organizations that are fighting the begging mafia.
- We work with organizations that deal with the aftermath of riots and work towards preventing more riots.
We know all that happens in the movie happens to children, day after day. But we also know that one kid winning a million dollars is not a solution in any shape or form.I think the movie brings light to the problems it portrays, yet it leaves viewers with a feeling of “What about all the other millions of childrens in the slums?” I wonder how many people run out of the movie theater wanting to do something?It is of course the film-maker’s choice. He is not making a documentary. But feel-good movies in general are not so starkly realistic when they portray the difficulties of the hero. The hero typically undergoes some difficulties and then something nice happens to him and the movie ends happily. Even if the difficulties are realistic, they are not the difficulties of a multitude of people. They are the difficulties of one hero and a few like him and he gets past them and lives happily ever after.The fact that this movie was so realistic in its portrayal of the difficulties, and then becomes “too perfect” in portraying how the hero’s life changes for the better.In any case, I hope Asha Chapters who are screening the movie for awareness are following up with discussions that highlight the fact that we are working with project partners who are addressing the basic issues and not just training people to win a million dollars.