Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Slumdog Millionaire

So for years I've wanted to see this movie.  Whenever someone found out that we were adopting from India they ALWAYS asked, "have you seen Slumdog Millionaire" - and my reply always was, "no......"

Well today - on one of my days off this week - I took Lauren to preschool and headed to the library to check it out to be able to see it BEFORE the kids had to be picked up.  It's rated R - and Brad has a belief that he doesn't watch any R -rated movies, so I had to find just the right time when I would be alone to see this one.  Honestly, I can see why it's rated R - especially if you are not used to seeing massive slums or abused children - but it doesn't have all the typically sex scenes or really bad language that would command the R - rating.  Parts are certainly hard to watch .... but poverty is painful....and the darkness of the world is also certainly painful.  Tonight the kids and I go to church for small group - so I'm going to try to encourage Brad to see it while we are gone.  It's not the typical R-rated movie.  We'll see if he makes this one exception.

This is NOT a movie for children, though - mainly because I don't think little ones should see street kids stealing money, food, or stuff.... and some of the violence, particularly toward children would certainly rock their world.  Their imagination doesn't need to go this far - we like to keep their hearts smaller than what this movie would show.  Our kids also don't understand poverty.  Brad and I have traveled to Kenya, Africa and actually walked through very large massive slums, so this part of the movie didn't surprise me that much.  We've also witness through our travels kids on the streets and the survival instincts that they have, so again much of the movie was quite believable.   

For all you PAPs out there - I decided to make a few comments on the movie - and only our India trip perspective. 

1.) The movie takes place in Mumbai - which is where we went for Lauren.  Although our exposure to Mumbai was very limited - we didn't see the massive slums as shown in the movie.  While I'm sure they are there - just google Dharavi and you will see real pictures of the largest slum in Mumbai. Thankfully, we were not exposed to this...I don't think my heart could have taken it.  Our time in Mumbai was spent mostly in our nice hotel :) 

2.) One thing you will see is street kids begging in the traffic.  This is so very hard to take - one article I read about how Indian people feel about the movie Slumdog is that "India people have become numb to children begging on the streets".   I think Indian people also don't like Slumdog because it seemed to exploit the poor in their view - and showed very little middle or upper class of India - which is certainly a reality.

3.) What we did see while in India is street kids, or at times kids with what appeared to be their momma living in a make-shift tent along the sidewalk.  You will certainly see things in Mumbai and New Delhi that you don't see every day in most U.S. cities.

My advice to any PAPs, DO NOT bring the movie up while in India.  I think it is very painful to have some of the depictions of life for street kids portrayed on film in this way.  I think it is hard for the people of India - but also there is no easy solution to the problem either.   I would recommend the movie; however, if you like movies for pure enjoyment - if you want to see the underdog prevail, stuff like that....and of course if you want to see a love story. 

I'm not sure if I will ever show the movie to our children -- I mean like even when they are grown adults, I'm not sure I would encourage them watching it.  I'm not sure how Joshua would take it -- or Lauren for that matter. More likely for our family is that one day ..... many years off, we will travel to a little village in Kenya and serve on a short-term mission trip with this amazing ministry called Worldwide Hearts and Hands.  Here is their website.

This ministry cares for orphans that are often living with an extended family member or someone that has just agreed to take them in.... they live in the Rift Valley villages and have very, very little.  This ministry provides school uniforms, and pays school fees for upper grades to keep kiddos in school.  They EVEN pay for college fees for those kids interested.  It is amazing how keeping these kids in the village (away from the city of Nairobi.... away from an eventual life in the Kibera slums) is a safer better option for them -- and they are learning and growing ....and one day hopefully going to college and getting a job.  It is a wonderful ministry.  I can see our family taking a trip like this to share with our kids the realities of poverty in a much more loving positive way.   Meanwhile, watch Slumdog, take it for what it is, enjoy it.... don't put too much stock in the movie ... India is much more than just this movie....and when people ask me now if I've seen the movie, I will say, "yes, it certainly shows some of the many sides of India".  


  1. This movie is a good piece of storytelling, and like most stories, it has it's own contained/particular point of view. We will watch LOTS of other Indian movies before our kids are old enough to watch this movie. I agree that it would be awkward to bring up this movie while in-country, just as it would be odd for someone to base their impressions of America on one movie that depicts a painful part of our country's life (Missisippi Burning comes to mind).

    I think it's important to share information in age-appropriate ways. Just as we "screen" information about things that happen in the US, such as child abuse or human trafficking or mass shootings, we will also work hard to share difficult information with our kids about some of the realities of our girls' birth country. We will share them, but we will also share many other facets of history, culture and modern life. And the people we know in real life who are Indian-American (one of my doctors, parents & kids at our school) bear no resemblance to the characters in this movie! But they will find out somehow, and I'd rather have them hear it from us.

    1. Nancy-
      Totally agree. I think it was such a common question about whether I saw the movie by "the world" around me here at home from folks with no education on matters of adoption or poverty that I felt compelled at some point to see what the movie was about. Now I'm glad I can respond how India is so much more than this movie shows. I'm not sure how I will talk to Lauren about the realities of children begging or other challenges in India, similarly to the challenges that happen here at home with killings, etc - I pray that a LONG way off in the future when the time comes and when she asks, that God will give me all the words to say so she knows she is loved and chosen just for who she is.

  2. Hello Renea,
    My husband and I are hoping to adopt from India in the near future. We could definitely use some help and would appreciate any all information we can gather. I am not able to find your e-mail address and for some reason it will not let me follow your blog. Not sure if I am doing things correctly. My e-mail is if you can e-mail me information about BAT. I will go in to greater detail with my questions. I have been enjoying reading your blog and it gives me so much hope!

  3. I only watched part of the movie, but I'm super-sensitive. I had to turn it off. It's harder for me to see things in movie-form, where I can do nothing to help, than it is for me to see things in real life, where I can possibly help in some way.