The first part of this chapter discusses phases of slum representation in the cinema of Bombay/Mumbai, including those of what is better known as Bollywood. Together with scholars of Indian Cinema (Mazumdar, Prasad, Basu), the chapter focuses on a few representative examples, such as Boot Polish (Arora 1954) or Satya (Varma 1998), to outline how popular Indian cinema has gradually abandoned what was once one of its most characteristic settings, the slum, to focus instead on escapist, studio set family melodramas. The second part departs from the harsh criticism (‘poverty porn’) that Slumdog Millionaire (Boyle 2008) has received to then argue that the film is best described as a palimpsestic imitation of Bombay Cinema. The film’s references to genres (gangster films, melodramas), plot structures (the forking life paths of two rival brothers), editing styles (of recent Bollywood gangster films), or character types (orphaned children) are indeed so manifold, that one can describe the film as an ‘archive of Bombay cinema’ (Mazumdar). The chapter concludes that, far from being a realistic depiction of the life of Mumbai’s street children, the film rather aims at immersing its viewers into a cinematic/televisual Mumbai of screens, surfaces and images.
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