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Term "Slumdog" Offends Some Mumbai Slum Residents

Term "Slumdog" Offends Some Mumbai Slum Residents

Slumdog Millionaire presents an intimate and inspiring look into life in Mumbai, India and its success could do much to promote diversity in the entertainment industry and increase global awareness among movie goers. Even so, some residents of Mumbai's slums have taken issue with the title, calling it insulting.

Speaking at a protest outside one of the actor's homes, a teenage resident of Mumbai's slums told the AP: "I am poor, but don't call me slumdog. I don't want to be referred to as a dog." Still, actor Anil Kapoor defends the movie, which he thinks will be an inspiration to children, adding that, "Children from the slums are actually called much worse names."

Does using a derogatory name to describe the hero of an award-winning move signal a triumph for slum residents, or is the term still simply offensive?

Photos courtesy of Fox Searchlight

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reactionary reactionary 8 years
yes. slumdog is a derogatory term towards those who inhabit the slums. have any of you ever been in a slum in mumbai? i have. they are depicted accurately in this film. the attitude that the majority of indians have toward slum dwellers is accurately depicted in the film. in the states we don't really have an equivalent to the slums, at least as far as i have seen. slums are like entire self supporting civilizations, that are in a constant struggle with the areas surrounding them. the movie doesn't even portray the slums negatively. i actually really was fascinated by them. yes, perhaps they are not the most comfortable places on earth, but the community that lives there.. you'd be shocked by it. everyone looks out for each other, and people are generally happy, or so it seemed to me. this uproar over the use of the word slumdog in the name is absurd. the entire. point. of the film. is that jamal IS a boy from the slums. to everyone that he interacts with once he leaves that slum and enters the newly industrializing world of mumbai, he is a slumdog. to the host of millionaire, he is a slumdog. to the audience of the show, he is a slumdog. that is the way it is. the entire point of the movie is that regardless of all of that, jamal still has morals and values and overcomes incredible odds and obstacles to do the right thing and be a good person, and he accomplishes something that no upper caste system brahman could ever do. he shows that the class distinctions created by using the word slumdog are irrelevant. he shows that the word slumdog actually means nothing. people shouldn't be getting upset over that because it's actually in their favor. jamal is the quintessential example of how you are not a product of your environment and through his actions in the film he shows name calling doesn't change who you are or what you believe in. i would have thought that people would be happy about that. i know i rambled on for a while, but feel very passionately about this. it just boggles my mind that people take things that are actually good and turn them into negatives for some weird reason (like the drama with michelle obama's inauguration dress not being by a black designer... ugh).
QueenB75 QueenB75 8 years
Wasn't this the same issue with that movie Towelhead? This movie was phenomenal anyways.
NYC0820 NYC0820 8 years
I think the message was missed. This movie is WONDERFUL...I want to jump through the screen and save those kids, which by the way were WONDERFUL in the movie. More attention should be placed on the kids in this movie.
geebers geebers 8 years
Sorry Stoopeed- I was not around to respond. My parents are from India- I was born here- but that doesn;t matter in light of what I was trying to say. I think this film is important in showing that people DO live in the slums and ignoring it does not make the problem go away. In the past, I have read news stories about Indians getting angry over a woman being kissed, a woman wearing a bikini, over movies that show hindu-muslim violence. All of these are reality and to get upset or angry and protest over it really doesn't seem to address WHY they are angry or what the issue is. In a country that is a democracy, I don't get the desire by so many groups for censorship and demanding that the government ban this or that. Slumdog IS an offensive term- that is the purpose and point of the title and movie.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
"So everyone would be okay with movie about rural conservative voters called White Trash Faithful, or The Conscience of Crackers?" I don't have a problem with those titles, if they are in some way accurate to the context of the movie, as I wouldn't be upset with a movie titled similarly about a black child who is involved in a gang and committing assorted crimes.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
allrighty then.
stephley stephley 8 years
I didn't think you did.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
sorry steph if i sounded harsh in that comeback, i didnt mean too.
stoopeed stoopeed 8 years
NYFashionista, I agree. Indian movies tend to deny reality all too often. I remember Indians getting angry at the portrayal of poverty in many movies. The difference here is that they are offended at one particular word which is considered highly offensive in the culture. Calling someone a 'dog' is one of the worst insults in the culture. As I said, I agree that slum residents are called many worse things, but that does not make it any less hurtful. I loved the movie and how it was a hope filled look at reality minus the rose colored glasses. But I can also see how the title can be hurtful to the very people it is trying to portray. I didn't know Geebers is from India. And my point wasn't that her comments are not valid. My point is that she is generalizing about a culture and judging that all their hurts are insignificant because the western culture deems them so. That she is talking about her own culture does not make her comment any less offensive to me. I don't think we have a right to decide for other people with regards to their feelings. Especially when we cannot claim to have experienced anything close to their lives. The only thing more hurtful than an offensive comment is to have your hurt at the comment brushed off as nonsense.
stephley stephley 8 years
Good, I wouldn't want to have to pay to have the title pages redone!
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
I wouldn't be offended by that either...
NYFashionista NYFashionista 8 years
stoopeed- I believe Geebers is also originally from India (I remember her commenting about that in the past). It would be interesting, however, if that legitimizes her comments haha. Anyway, I understand why Indians are upset. The majority of these Indian indie movies do shine alot negative light on India and Indian culture (perhaps moreso than Indians would want), but I also think, by complaining about a movie like this is to deny reality. Afterall, it was shot in the slums, and I have seen the slums. They are real. The children's stories are also real. These things happen. That said, there is so much beauty, tolerance and respect in India that is often times never portrayed, because that isn't interesting to us (or at least, when it comes to movies). The view of India here, from my experience and growing up here (in comparison to what I experience when visiting my extended family there) is really warped. Alot having to do with the way the media, the entertainment industry and history books potray it. But, someone will always have a problem with something. I think it was an amazing movie.
stephley stephley 8 years
You weren't the only person who defended the movie title CG.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
stephley- No i wouldnt be offended by those movies or titles. why should I? Honey- (stepping out of my comfy zone here in white trash conservative land) get over it dear.
lilegwene lilegwene 8 years
Stephley - why not? If the movie portrays them in a good light, or even if it doesn't, there is nothing to be offended over. It is not calling me as a white person, white trash, it is a title about the characters in the film. Also, poor people in Mumbai are not commonly referred to as "Slumdogs," that was a name pretty much made up for the movie title. Unlike "cracker" which has historic offense. Honey - spare us. Of course everyone can see how poor people in Mumbai's slums COULD get offended. It is just a matter of whether being offended is really justified, and as there is no racism or personal attack it doesn't seem to be warranted. Your sticking up for political correctness in this situation does not make you a more intellectual or compassionate person than everyone who sees "slumdog" as just a name. LaurenG, I think your comparison is spot-on.
stephley stephley 8 years
More accurately, it'd be GhettoDog Millionaire.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
That is what people call the character in the movie AS an insult.... it makes sense in the context- just like a movie about a boy growing up in the ghetto of chicago could be called ghetto boy millionaire.
stoopeed stoopeed 8 years
geebers - I am from India and I find your comment offensive. As a matter of fact, there are people in other cultures that find things that Americans get upset over ridiculous too. While I agree with the actor's point that slum children are called worse things, I don't think generalizing like you are doing is right either.
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 8 years
Whoa, here we go. We clearly have some posters that use the phrase, "Get Over It" too often. Can you honestly not see how someone would not be offended, if they walk in those shoes daily? Grow up and step out of your comfort zone.
stephley stephley 8 years
So everyone would be okay with movie about rural conservative voters called White Trash Faithful, or The Conscience of Crackers?
kia kia 8 years
I didn't grow up in the slums of Mumbai so I have no idea how derogatory it really is. I can't comment on if it should be a triumph or offensive.
Jazz-Z Jazz-Z 8 years
I think it was an important movie in that it enlightened everyone about the terrible conditions some of those people live in, and that even though they live in those conditions they are still people who have dreams. I think its important they try to embrace the bigger message.
amybdk amybdk 8 years
Good point, Nya.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
people also get mad when they are looked at sideways doesnt mean they are justified.
geebers geebers 8 years
Typical India- people are always getting up in arms over things we here would find silly. That is just how it is there. *shakes head sadly* The thing is- these people are so used to fairytale Bollywood films that movies about reality offend them.
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