Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Slumdog star's home is demolished":
The Mumbai slum home of one of the child stars of the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire has been demolished by city authorities.

Reports say that police smacked the boy, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, with a bamboo stick before ordering him out.

The authorities claim he and other families were squatting on land that was owned by the government.

He played a younger version of one of the main characters in the film, which scooped eight Oscars.

"We are homeless, we have nowhere to go," Azharuddin said after the demolition.

The family lived in a temporary makeshift shelter made up of plastic sheets over bamboo sticks, in a slum near Bandra East in Mumbai.

He said he had been fast asleep when the demolition squad came and asked them to leave, later tearing down the entire row of tents pitched on the land.

The family claim they had not been informed about the planned demolition.

Municipal official, Uma Shankar Mistry, who was present during the demolition, told the BBC that the authorities only razed temporary and illegal homes which had recently been erected next to the slum.

He said the houses were in an area that was meant for a public garden.


Kinohi Nishikawa said...

Do you know of any piece out there that talks about the film's exploitation of its child actors? It seems strange to me that the child actors -- who played a crucial role in *Slumdog*'s narrative framing -- would still be living in poverty. This of course raises larger questions about what I consider to be the film's romanticization of poor brown folk.

Alex Greenberg said...

I haven't seen anything academic on that topic yet, but I'm sure it's out there or in the works. What I found somewhat deplorable about this story and the way it was treated not just by the BBC is the fact that little emphasis is placed on the fact that, worldwide, this kind of slum demolishing is constantly going on with little to no concern for those living in them. The slum-dwellers are treated as illegal burdens on society, while those who destroy their homes are doing so for the economic good "of the nation." Although she is not talking about slums (except obliquely), you might be interested in Arundati Roy's essays on the dams in rural India.