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Slumdog: Mumbai slum-dweller's verdict

Gautami Chavare
Gautami Chavare: "I feel destiny does play a part in what happens to us"
Gautami Chavare, 18, works in an electronics factory unit earning about $60 (44) a month, and lives in a slum in the western suburbs of Mumbai. She was recently trained to host a show on university radio. She watched Slumdog Millionaire when it opened in India on Friday.

I had never been to a cinema hall before I watched Slumdog Crorepati (the Hindi version of Slumdog Millionaire). I really liked the film.

The areas where Jamal and Salim (the two brothers who grow up together but meet a different fate) live are just like it is near our place.

The way those children run to avoid a thrashing from the policeman and the lanes they go through are so real. That is how women wash clothes and children play in our "Ambedkar nagar" (the colony where she lives).

Also the character getting an autograph from film star Amitabh Bachchan was very nice.

All of us love films and would do anything to watch a shoot. We end up watching films only on TV and never really see the heroes we like.

I wish our housing would become better and things improve but I know it is not easy

But the most important thing I liked about the film was the story itself. The way he grows up and becomes a winner - it is a story of hope. We gain a lot of hope if a person who has witnessed so much in life can succeed in winning a tough competition.

I dropped out of school to work and whenever I saw Kaun Banega Crorepati (the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) I used to think it could change the lives of people like us.

But as I did not complete school I would never know so many answers.

I was lucky to have Professor Hatekar (a university teacher who used to teach slum children) who encouraged me to work on a show on university radio. I never expected to do even this well. Some newspapers have written about me. I think it was my good luck - a bit like Jamal's.

My father is an alcoholic and my mother works as a domestic helper. We are four siblings -so my elder brother and I started working in different places.

Today I make around 3,000 rupees ($60) a month but we are managing. I feel destiny does play a part in what happens to us but at the same time I also feel that it is in my own hands how I shape it. We have to try harder than other people.

Film poster in Mumbai
Slumdog finally opened in India on Friday after worldwide acclaim

I don't know how the director, who has come from outside, knew these areas and our lives so well. He must have spent time here.

It is easy for some people to say that this type of film should not be shown because they do not know our lives.

If a film star passes by, everyone runs behind him, but if anything happens to us no-one ever gets to know. What is shown here about slum life is true - so how can it be a bad thing?

The film had Salim, Jamal's brother, who does not improve. We have people like him who are unable to change their conditions. I had asked a friend of mine to come with me for some training and she wanted to but then all of a sudden she refused. Many times even if we want to do better, we are not able to.

I wish our housing would become better and things improve but I know it is not easy. I was very involved in this film. That the boy finally wins means a lot to me.


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