Piracy, controversy mar Slumdog's India run

Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:23pm EST
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - For all the attention in Hollywood, "Slumdog Millionaire" has failed to set the box office alight in India where it is set, with piracy, anger over its portrayal of poverty and its controversial title taking a toll.

The Oscar-nominated film about the life of a street boy who wins a fortune on a quiz show appealed to multiplex audiences with its portrayal of hope amid poverty but left viewers in small towns unimpressed.

A debate over the film's portrayal of India, where millions still live in the squalor depicted in "Slumdog Millionaire," hasn't helped either.

"The film was slow in picking up but by Monday was seeing 65-75 percent occupancy in multiplexes," said trade analyst Komal Nahta. "From Tuesday the collections have slowed again."

"Slumdog," shot largely in the slums of Mumbai, received mixed reviews, with some panning it for reinforcing Western stereotypes about India.

Police in the eastern state of Bihar tightened security after slum dwellers objecting to the word "dog" attacked a cinema hall screening "Slumdog Millionaire" in its main city.

In small towns and semi-urban areas, the film is not doing well despite the huge publicity and a dubbed Hindi version.

"There was a problem with the title itself. Slumdog is not a familiar word for majority Indians," Nahta said.   Continued...