Mar 9, 2010

What happened to the little slumdogs?

Exactly one year after Slumdog Millionaire won 8 oscars, Dutch journalist Wilma van der Maten, based in Delhi, decided to visit the two children that played the small Latika and Salim. The question is: How are they doing now? You would assume 8 oscars and a bunch of millions profit would improve their circumstances. Besides that, Danny Boyle has created a fund that provides money for their education and a bonus for finishing their studies once they reach their 18th birthday.

In this small video she shows how the girl still lives in the slum, with her stepmother. She doesn't go to school. All she dreams of is being a moviestar. Her father doesn't want to move to the flat that was offered, since it is too far away from his sources of income.
The boy does considerably better. He lives in a reasonable flat (with a lot of family), and goes to school now and then. That is, unless one of the plenty journalists offers them some money for an interview. He also dreams of a life as a moviestar, so he can one day afford a house with a swimming pool.
Now, the relation between the little stars (their managers/families) and the director hasn't improved, since the media attention seems to have made them a little greedy.

Can we draw conclusions? Not really. I guess it merely shows that improvement of life in the slums (or of a few of its inhabitants) is an extremely complex issue, and is not done by making a movie in the West. Indians in India hardly watched the movie anyway. So improvement is something we shouldn't expect of Danny Boyle, already enough criticized on his assumed neglect of the actors.

Please enjoy this video if you like. It's mostly in Dutch, but if you speak both Hindi and English, you should be able to get the points.

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