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Poverty and its Impacts on Children in Slums (Movie Review Sample)


The instructions required me to discuss the impacts of poverty on children in Indian slums.


Slumdog Millionaire: Poverty and its Impacts on Children in Slums
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India is among the developing countries where the rate of poverty and economic struggle is high. People struggle for a living, which is quite acute in the slum areas. Mumbai, for instance, has a population of over 22 million inhabitants with 70 percent of its people living in the slum areas (Chaplin, 2009). It, therefore, means that three-quarter of Mumbai’s people lives is below the poverty line. They have limited access to electricity, water, housing, food, and education. The few social amenities in the area are overcrowded, and few people get access to it. Chaplin, (2009) adds that 7 million of this population is children below the age of 14 years raised in abject poverty.
Directed by Dan Doyle, Slumdog Millionaire is a movie produced in 2008 and has received eight Oscar Awards in the fields of cinematography, sound mixing, Direction, Film Original Editing and Original Score. It is based on a novel called Q & A written by the Indian diplomat, Vikas Swarup (Chan, 2010). The movie is set in the Indian slums and revolves around Jamaal, an Indian Muslim boy who is uneducated but rises to riches despite his background. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the living situation of the poor in India especially in the slums and its impact on children as portrayed in the movie. It will also delve into how the director brings western perspective in the film and stereotype of the Indian culture and cultural relativism.
Mainstream films help in shaping the audiences’ imagination of the state of a nation in various aspects. In Slumdog Millionaire, the state of poverty in the Indian urban areas in drawn. The poor situation in the slums coupled with the lack of food, proper clothing, poor housing, lack of educational facilities and illiteracy denies children an opportunity to grow into better adults who can support themselves (Chaplin, 2009). The life in the streets and the slums represented by Jamaal’s early life shows how adult's control curtails the children's living space and freedom in the public space. Lack of education forces children to do menial jobs that demean their status. They are mistreated and offered meager pay by their employees. Jamal works at a restaurant where he serves tea. His social life and mobility is restricted
The factors such as prostitution in the slums, the ill health, disability and rape cases show the things that children go through in their daily lives in India. It paints an environment that excludes these children from taking part in the society’s development. Chaplin, (2009) says that these challenges hinder their empowerment and development which can allow them to be responsible citizens. It denies them an opportunity to experiences their childhood like other children from around the world. Jamal, Salim, and Latika in the film experience all these negative aspects of the society despite their innocence. They lack protection and adult moral support.
The poverty experienced in the Indian slums shows various contradictions and contrasts of its harsh reality. The poor people are oppressed by the filthy rich. The conditions of the children are in existence with the extremely organized crime and the sporadic religious unrest. The film, however, shows politics of representation. Jamaal’s Islamic background and the state of the slums in India is used to represent the state of the entire nation. The film paints India as a country of abject poverty. However, the director tries to show how this situation is changing through the changes that occur in the life of Jamaal. Marques, (2012) suggests that the state of the poverty in India is reducing as western culture is adopted and the people embrace new technologies. The movie shows a spin of modernity in a tale based on a rag to riches that uniquely attempts to show the unexplored, complex and misunderstood complexity of the life in India and how it is transforming into a better nation.
While the film tries to bring this level of abject poverty into contact with its audience, the director constructs the movie in a typical western way. The director achieves this through the exoticization of the Indian culture and by using the American narrative which gives a skewed form of representation of the state of poverty in India. The conflation of the poverty in the slums of Mumbai with the country as whole paints a form of visual imperialism that shapes the people’s perspectives on India as a country (Marques, 2012). The aspect of the West in the movie is portrayed by the new ways of life that the people are trying to embrace. The director shows how the new society that Jamaal loves in, after his liberation from abject poverty. The assimilation of the western culture into the daily lives of the people is growing by the day. Additionally, the movie is directed by a British and the story is written by an Indian which in its sense shows how the western influence is gradually embraced in India (Chan, 2010). Also, the director, through Slumdog, depicts a realistic representation of the modern India by shifting the setting from Bollywood into the slums. He still manages to provide a narrow view of modernity from the western perspectives in the treatment of cultural and social issues like gender, class and the economic challenges faced by the poor.
The film represents some aspects of culture using cultural relativistic framework since the people’s differences are caused by the cultural beliefs and differences. Marques, (2012) asserts that it is the culture where some people think they are inferior to others while others think they are superior bringing much harm into the community. The movie tries to show how cultural relativism has ruined many societies and people lives and tries to demystify certain biases and beliefs. Chan, (2010) says that cultural relat...
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