Slumdog Millionaire: Exploitation or Revelation?

by Melissa Mahfouz
Special to iVoryTowerz

It is a rare film that can leave audiences and movie critics alike with a sense of the utmost fulfillment and inspiration, yet Slumdog Millionaire, the globally acclaimed film and also Golden Globes' Best Picture, has accomplished such a feat, with a plethora of awards and likely more awards coming. Yet, every rose has its thorn. While news syndicators provided widespread, positive feedback about the film and its content, The Washington Post first took an unorthodox approach with its article entitled "The Shadow of 'Slumdog's' Success." The article exposed what needed to be exposed; although the film grossed more than $40 million in the U.S. alone, two of the child actors involved, Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail, to this day still live within the slums of Mumbai.

What would seem a rather simplistic issue has evolved into a public outcry.

Unions and human rights groups, among other such entities, have criticized director Danny Boyle and crew for supposedly underpaying both Ali and Ismail. On the contrary, Boyle has asserted that the education of the children have been substantially funded alongside acting payments. Child exploitation has even been brought into the limelight of this milieu, yet it remains unlikely that Boyle will face any formal charges.

It seems heinous that these young international stars have remained shackled to a life of impoverishment, however this particular situation is a mere reflection of the adversities a developing India continues to face. Yes, it is unacceptable that both Ali and Ismail remain in such a destitute living circumstance, yet with India's adherence to a strict caste-system, how plausible is social mobility, really? Rather than continuously directing all the attention towards the two rising stars, what also ought to be assessed is what factors, both internal and external, can improve the current socioeconomic environment of the region.

(The promotional photo of the set of Slumdog Millionaire is from FOX Searchlight Pictures. To see a trailer for the film, please check below.)

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