It reads almost like an article in The Onion.
According to the AP’s Erika Kinetz (via USA Today), young Slumdog Milionaire star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and his family were recently kicked out of the shanty they lived in before it was bulldozed in advance of monsoon season.
Sadly, they were only one of thirty such families to have lost their homes in the Mumbai slum where even people who have homes have it rough:
“Azhar’s neighbors have less to look forward to. Homeless mothers nursed their babies Thursday in what little shade they could find in the 100-degree heat. Nearby, a 98-year old woman lay listless on a metal bed frame scattered with rags. A pregnant woman carried two large jugs of water, trying not to trip. A man on crutches hobbled through rubble littered with stuffed animals and children’s shoes.
Some sang Jai Ho, the Oscar-winning song from Slumdog Millionaire. Others tried to cook. Children struggled with unwieldy bundles of clothes tied together with old sheets.”
With the sad picture of Azharuddin standing below a rumpled Slumdog poster (signed by Danny Boyle) comforting his pet chicken (he lost his kittens), it’s tempting to lay blame at the feet of the film’s producers for exploiting the children in the first place and the article seems to want to do just that.
The thing is, life was rough for the kids and the millions of others like them before the movie and it continues to be rough after the movie. The problem isn’t the movie. The problem is audiences seeing the movie and then sleeping well at night feeling they’ve done something to help solve the world’s problems.
What’s disturbing is even the AP article feels like it’s exploiting tragedy. Read it and tell me I’m wrong.