Slum dweller sues stars of Slumdog Millionaire for insulting the poor

An Indian slum dweller has taken the Indian stars of Slumdog Millionaire, the British-made film, to court alleging that its graphic portrayal of Mumbai's shantytowns has offended millions of his peers.

The case was registered by the chief judicial magistrate in the northern city of Patna against the film's Golden Globe-winning music director A. R. Rahman, the actor Anil Kapoor and other Indians associated with the project.

The petitioner, Tapeshwar Vishwakarma, is the general secretary of the Jhuggi Jhonpdi Sanyukta Sangharsh Samiti, a group that seeks to promote the rights of slum dwellers. He is seeking to have the film banned.

"Vishwakarma requested the court to protect the honour and respect of millions of slum dwellers across India," his lawyer Shruti Singh told the Indo Asian News Service.

"What hurt him was that even Indians associated with the film [did not object to being called] slumdogs," Ms Singh said.

The Indian media has, for the most part, embraced Slumdog and celebrated its successes. But in some quarters there has been a backlash against its depiction of India's urban poor. Last week, Amitabh Bachchan, for decades Bollywood's biggest heart throb, took a swipe at the film's depiction of the country as a "third-world, dirty, underbelly developing nation" a characterisation he said had caused "pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots".

Yesterday, Anil Kapoor said: "I totally disagree with Mr Bachchan I have high regard for him as an actor but I don't think any deliberate slight was meant to India."

Irrfan Khan, who plays a police officer, said: "Slumdog is not a documentary. It is a feature film, and one does add elements of drama to film. Why are we in denial? Poverty is very much a part of our lives. We should deal with it."

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