Slumdog Millionaire boosts Mumbais slum tourism industry

January 22nd, 2009 - 1:04 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 22 (ANI): Slumdog Millionaire might have been criticised for portraying India as “third world dirty underbelly”, but the success of the film has bolstered the Mumbais controversial slum tourism industry.

An increasing number of Westerners are shunning the beaches of Goa and palaces of Rajasthan to experience the reality behind British film.

Everybody is talking about Slumdog, Times Online quoted Ganesh Tikonkar, a guide for Reality Tours.

This company takes about 50 people a day through Dharavi, Asias biggest slum.

Now people want to see the real thing, he added.

The foreigners are spending three hours following Tikonkar to explore the life of slum dwellers.

The film, which has won four Golden Globe Awards and is the frontrunner at the Oscars, tracks the story of Jamal Malik, a dirt-poor orphan from the slums who astonishes India when he does well on the countrys version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

The highlights of Dharavi expedition include a stop at a stall of six toilets that serves 16,000 people and a stroll alongside a river so black and septic that it oozes rather than flows.

The movie is a fairytale. This trip shows things are a little darker, a little grittier in reality, said Bill Alves from Seattle, who is retired and went on the tour after seeing the film.

The Dharavi expedition is part of a new tourism that is gaining traction across the developing world.

The advocates say that the Dharavi expedition help to illuminate the slums qualities.

Yes, these places have their grim side, but many people who go on the tours are surprised to find thriving, diverse communities, who live together peacefully, said Deval Sanghavi, of Deval, a Mumbai-based NGO.

These excursions are also proving beneficial for the slum inhabitants, for 80 per cent of the Reality Tours profits, the company that takes people to the expedition, are spent on social schemes in Dharavi. (ANI)

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