As Arvind Adiga puts it things are different in ‘The Darkness’, “There, every morning, tens of thousands of young men sit in the tea shops, reading the newspaper ... They have no job to do today. They know they won't get any job today. They've given up the fight." Through his richly detailed story telling, Adiga captivates the reader by depicting Balram Halwai’s struggling family life in “The Darkness”, in the teashops of Mafia controlled Dhanbad, as the driver for a wealthy family in Gurgaon till he finally kills his master and sets himself free. Free from oppression, free from bonds to his struggling family and his obligations to them and free to set up shop on his own at Bangalore. Through this journey of the rarest of the rare(that is what a white tiger is) ‘Balram Halwai’, Adiga depicts the modern Indian dilemma as unique. Family loyalties and a caste and class ridden culture of servitude, clash with the unfulfilled promises of freedom and democracy. Throughout the book one never loses sight of the intense struggle of the ordinary men and women fighting impossible odds to survive.
‘Slumdog Millionaire’ on the other hand exposes the numerous ills that plague Aamchi Mumbai and India. From the torture chamber of Mumbai Police, the petty criminals who maim and blind children deliberately, forcing them on the streets as beggars, to gangsters of the underworld whose tentacles spread from child prostitution, drug trafficking and contract killing. The music in the film is refreshing, if at times the gore is overpoweringly repulsive.
If one has landed at Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji Airport, one has probably seen from the air, the very slums which are the scene of action for a large part of the movie. But I can bet many of us have not actually been inside the slums. It’s sad that it takes a foreigner to bring us face to face with the stark realities of our apparently glittering metropolis.
I hope this break through movie will bring light to the living atrocities and in some way help the people that live in our slums.
‘Slumdog Millionaire’ hits theatres in India on 23 Jan 2009.