Wednesday, February 25, 2009


SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE directed by Danny Boyle won an astounding 8 Academy Awards and out of that 3 Awards went to Indians. This movie, glorifying the slum life accompanied by exceptional music, put the urban slums of Bombay and Indians musicians A.R. Rahman and Rosul Pookutty on the world stage. The Britishman, Danny Boyle, and others who acted in the movie raked in the money,name and fame. But nothing has changed for the slum dwellers of Bombay or for that matter for the slum dwellers living in innumerable slums in the cities and towns all over India.

Here in the heart of Kochi we have SLUMDOG BILLIONAIRES. They are living in Manapattiparambu which is normally rented out to touring circuses. No one takes notice of them. They have come from Delhi to make a living. They live in ramshackle tents. They live here, cook here, eat here and sleep here. Their children don’t study and from a very young age they are taught to be self dependent. The dirt, filth and squalor will put any one off. They get kits for small drums from Delhi, assemble them here and sell it in the busy streets of Kochi. If they can get a business worth Rs.1000 a day they will make a profit of Rs.200 US$4). The old and infirm will beg to earn a lively hood. The children will generally learn the trade of their fathers i.e. to make drums and sell them.

I understand that 3 children belonging to these hapless people were stolen a few days back. There is no police complaint or police investigation or even a report in the news papers. You can imagine the anguish of the parents who lost their children. Those of you who have seen SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE will know what happens to abducted children. In the movie one abducted child is drugged , blinded and made to beg on the road. The begging money will, of course, be taken by the gang leader. What will be the fate of these 3 children. It is anybody’s guess..

Now hold your breathe and take a look at the life and living conditions of these SLUMDOG BILLIONAIRES in Kochi town.

I was a bit apprehensive while taking photos of children because I could have been assaulted by these desperate people who might have thought that I have come there to abduct their children. In fact, one little girl screamed and told the other children to run and hide themselves. One girl covered her face. One little boy stood there bravely and challenged me to take his photo. Thank God I was not attacked.


Mel said...

Oh, Joseph, every single one of these people is beautiful and precious. This is an eye-grabbing, heart-wrenching post. Thank you for sharing this.

God bless you, dear friend.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Mel :)

I am amazed at the speed of your response. It is just a few minutes since I posted this and there you are commenting on it. Incredible to say the least.

Many, many thanks.

Best wishes :)

Femin Susan said...

oh no! it is very difficult to watch there life without tears dropping from your was very kind about you to publish there conditions.

have you seen the tribal slum near the Premier.they all are engaged in producing hand made items like idols of god,pot,bamboo chairs and selling them.i believe that they get a good income from them but still they are not able to change their situation.
once have a visit......

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Susan :)

I have seen those people. In fact I have bought some flower pots from them.

Best wishes :)

manivannan said...

Slumdog Millionaire doesn't deserve oscars and the hype it gets....the media's is going gaga over the film. It's just a worthless pop-corn flick ...Everything is shallow about this film....

And your right, this film doesn't even inspire you to do social service...let alone change the society.

Thoughtful post here sir. And yes its heart wrenching to see our fellow brothers and sisters struck by poverty and helplessness... it's a shame on humanity.

SkyJuice said...

Hi Joseph,

I found it hard to see these heart–wrenching photos. It made me appreciate life even more. Thank you for sharing. :-)

shri ramesh sadasivam said...

Hello Sir, My brother conveyed your warm regards to me. Thanks. I am not able to find time to post and comment as frequently as before. Your blog is much more interesting and thought provoking than it was used to be. My brother tells me about your posts quiet often.

I too was not very much impressed with SLUM DOG MILLIONAIRE. There are much better movies in INDIA. But for the Americans, this is very new and thats why they are celebrating it this much. As far as AR RAHMAN and Resul Pookutty are concerned, I think we can feel proud and happy for them. They have done proud to our nation.

I have one more information for you. is conducting a competition for indian bloggers. I guess yours would do well there. Please check out. All the best. :)

GraceBeading said...

Hi Joseph,

I have followed your blog for awhile, but have never commented (I'm not sure why). I couldn't let this one go by without taking the time.

It is heart wrenching to see and know that people suffer so, I am heart broken for the precious children and angry knowing the elderly and infirm are subjected to such cruel conditions. It is hard to see, but so important at the same time.

Bless you

Amrita said...

Josephji you are absolutely right. The poor will keep on breathing the foul air while the rich soak themselves in fragrance.

There is such a huge gap between the haves and the have nots in our country.There are hundreds of rag picked in my city, they live the lives of street dogs.Many of these children are addicted to drugs.

A Catholic organization is helping them.

My connection is faulty today so i couldn 't look at the photos, but i 'll come back

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Mani :)

Many thanks for your well considered comments.

Best wishes :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Skyjuice :)

I agree with you. Most of us don't appreciate the blessings we have until we see the misery and sufferings of others.

Many thanks :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Ramesh :)

I'm glad you took some time off to post your valuable comments. Many thanks for the information. I will definitely check it out.

My prayers and best wishes for all success :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Grace:)

Welcome :)

Many thanks for your thought provoking and insightful comments. It is indeed unbearable to see the plight of these beautiful human beings created by God.

Have a nice day :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Amrita :)

There is not only a gap between rich and poor but this gap is increasing day by day.

Many thanks for your thought provoking comments :)

monsoon-dreams said...

what to say!really sad.thanks for writing such a post,jospeh.lets do our best to help people like them.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Monsoon-Dreams :)


Many thanks for your visit and for your inspiring comments.

Best wishes :)

Anonymous said...

Ok, I will start out with WOW. I have a file with a collectanea all related to the vast expanse poor-----super rich. It fascinates me, but in a sad way. I know the answers are not simple but I think there are more answers than we willingly entertain. I am not talking about poor as in people who whine about not having vacations or a new car, I mean POOR.
If someone can go thru this post without crying, they are stronger than I. I'd like to say reading/seeing things like this increases my appreciation for my life, but what it really increases is my desire to do more for others..which I guess is as it should be. ~Mary

FCB said...

Hi Joseph,
Wow, this is a disturbing post. YOu live ina world of such extremes, some of the finest and most beautiful, and what certainly must be the most distressing. These posts are the kind that inspire and motivate me to work towards justice. I think this is what Christ must have viewed when he exhorted us to seek Justice and mercy, don't you think?
Thanks for your graphic reminder to not fall asleep, the task has just begun.
God bless,

Paul said...

Hi JPC, I was really surprised to see the Director of "Slumdog Billionaire" in full style with a Bulgan beard and spectacles on the forehead.Great! I give 100 marks to the Director. The photos are really incredible.

Leo said...

It took a few days to absorb this post. Very well done. It is overwhelming to think of the struggles of the poor. They must be the strongest of spirit among us in order to continue to struggle so valiently.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Mary :)

Many thanks for thoughtful comments. I agree that we can all do more for the poor and suffering people of this world.

Best wishes :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred :)

Many thanks for your valuable comments. We are indeed a country of contrasts - the best and the worst. A lot of work is to be done to help the poor.

Best wishes :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Paul :)

Many thanks for your compliments. You make me blush :) This is only one of my avatars :)

Best wishes :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Leo :)

I agree with you wholeheartedly. We take many things for granted whereas there are innumerable people out there struggling for the basic necessities of life.

Many thanks for your comments :)

Maria said...

Dear Joseph, thank you very much for posting these pictures showing the life of the poor in Kochi's slums.
I am sad and heart-broken for all these people and their children. I did not see the Slumdog movie because I fear it will not show the truth.
I saw a report on Spain some time ago. In some parts of the country they grow vegetables in big plantations, green houses, and the workers come from Africa and live in cardboard huts covered with polythene sheets. Open fires for cooking, no sanitary facilities, they come to work here and live without their families.
How do you think I feel when I see vegetables from that country in our shops - such as strawberries in winter? I refuse to buy them but what can I really DO???

Mark in Spokane said...


Thank you so much for reminding us of the reality of true poverty in this world, of the assault such poverty makes on human dignity, of the violence and desperation that haunts the lives of people in such conditions.

Those of us in America have a good deal of anxiety right now about our financial situation, but very few of us experience anything like what the people you showed experience.

During this time of Lent, those of us who are Christians need to be reminded of the real poverty in this world, of the assault on human dignity that such poverty commits, and of our obligation, to borrow a Hebrew phrase, "to repair the world" (tikkun olam).

Thank you, Joseph. Thank you so much.


Very timely and appropriate - also a mirror to hold up to those who think that the slums and mutilated children shown in SB don't exist.


And, oh, congratulations to the director!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Maria :)

I am distraught to read the story about African workers in Spain. This happens in most countries all over the world. Poor people are always exploited.

Many thanks for sharing this heart touching story.

Best wishes :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Mark :)

You are absolutely right. We have a great responsibility as Christians to "repair the world" of poverty, hunger, thirst, suffering, exploitation, inequalities etc. A timely reminder during the period of Lent.

Many, many thanks.

God bless you :)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Raji :)

You are very right.

The Slumdog is is a true depiction of what happens to slum dwellers and their children except winning the quiz competition.

Many thanks for your compliments and your comments.

Best wishes :)

JM said...

Joseph, you've done a fantastic work! All pictures are heart breaking! Glad you could make it, it's very important we all see this reality!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi JM:)

Many thanks for your comments.

Best wishes :)

Marc said...

Hi Joseph, I appreciate you showing some of the reality of the slums. I haven't seen the movie, but I think it is kind of perverted (in the original sense of the word) to somehow glorify the miserable conditions some people must live in and the millions of dollars made out of it. And then all this award stuff (which I didn't watch), not my cup of tea. One hopes that somehow all of this will benefit the people who suffer. Who knows, the intentions and actions of the moviemakers are good. Let's hope so. Kind regards.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Mark :)


You are absolutely correct. This movie is just another commercial venture to make money. Slum dwellers life will be the same.

Many thanks for your comments.

Best wishes :)

Bluebirdy said...

Hi Joseph;
There was a documentary on TV this week showing that there are tent cities going up across America at a frightening rate. They look very much like this for those who can not afford even a tent. It is too cold for children to go naked though. They showed the luxurious homes full of expensive furniture that they just walked away from after losing their jobs, because they can't make payments on the house or on the furniture which they bought on credit. They showed companies that come in and just throw all the TVs and furniture in the garbage dump, instead of sending them to places where used items are sold to other people. What horrendous waste! America talks so much about recycling and not wasting, and even pay to have their soda bottles and cans recycled, yet they are taking perfectly good electronics and furniture to the dump when others could buy them at lower prices from the used item stores! The number of families with children that are going homeless in the USA daily right now is staggering. I heard about all the suicides that happened in the 1939 depression, but wondered why we had not heard about the suicides from this depression. In the documentary, they said that close to 4,000 suicides (including fathers killing their whole family and then themselves) could be blamed on the financial crisis, and that is probably a low number, because so many suicide victims don't tell the real reason why they did it. We are in the last days, and I am so very eager for the Lord to return and make this world into the paradise He promised. I am really ready for a healthy resurrected body so that I can be functional and serve the Lord better. I'm also eager for there to be no more borders, so that we can visit or live anywhere, and not be separated from our loved ones due to borders and governments of various countries. You were very courageous to ake those pictures in the slums. It is criminal that the money from the movie did nothing to help the people that were being filmed. I think the Lord might judge those people harshly. I hope that movie will bring publicity about that problem so that other organizations will help somehow. It seems that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and there are fewer and fewer middle class. Your blog will also bring this problem some awareness, so bless you for your courage in taking the pictures and sharing them.
Bless you in every way,

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Sheila :)

I am astonished to read all that information about America. I never realized that the depression has affected them so badly that they cannot pay installments for the houses although I have been reading that thousands of people are losing their jobs. Besides, I am surprised to note that there are so many suicides in US. I always thought that the US is a land of milk and honey and people have plenty of money and live a very luxurious lives.

Slumdog Millionaire is just a commercial movie with the intention of making money. The director, Danny Boyle, has achieved that aim and apart from winning 8 academy awards. It was a great bonus for him. He is a clever man.

Taking pictures of people out in the open is always risky. But sometimes I take that risk. I am not an accredited photographer.

I am extremely glad that you could take time off to write this detailed information which was very interesting for me to read.

Take care. God bless you and your family :)

The Tile Lady said...

These children just break my heart! Thank you for sharing this. We all need to remember how so many live in the world...this is God's world, and He loves every one of His children, and I pray for His love and help in their lives. I have not seen the movie yet, and want to very much. I just know that even in a small way, the movie will bring the attention of the world to the plight of children like these, and I am thankful for that. Suffering kids have always been the hardest thing for me to bear in this world, but we have to pray...and be there for each other. Thank you for being such a precious blogger friend!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Marie :)

Many, many thanks for your visit and your kind and encouraging comments.

God bless you.

inventivesoul said...

Hi Joseph!

I read that you wrote-"Besides, I am surprised to note that there are so many suicides in US. I always thought that the US is a land of milk and honey and people have plenty of money and live a very luxurious lives."
It was interesting for me to read your comment.
I live a very basic life, far from luxury.
And I go without many things here for lack of money too.
There are slums here also, in NYC.
And many poor people live on the streets.
Just wanted you to know that.

I'm enjoying the posts you have put up on the blog since I've last been here.
I LOVE the flowers and nature pictures too!!!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Amber :)

I am delighted and honored by your visit.

Many, many thanks for the information.

Have a lovely day :)

Catherine said...

Bonjour Joseph,
Concerning your post about Slumdog Millionnaires.
I've just read an article, in our newspaper, concerning one of the young actress's father. You certainly know about it yet, because they write that the polemic was published in the Times of India.
I guess that money can improve life conditions, but also can make some lose their head !
Obviously, I have to watch this movie.
Have a nice day, Joseph.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Catherine :)

I am thrilled to note that this movie has kindled your interest.

The girl actress's father is poor and he has no money. So he wants to cash in on his daughter's popularity. This again shows how slum dwellers think and behave.

Many thanks for your keen observation.

Have a nice day Catherine :)

Rema said...

Yes I know how girl,s father was trying to cash on her popularity and get more publicity. But now lately I heard that these children's small place is all broken and the slum dog producer/director are planning to buy a house for them. Hope they buy it in the children's names and these children are not treated badly.

FCB said...

Hi Joseph, thank you for bringing to light this important plight of the poor. We have our poor here, but truly, nothing like this. I'm glad you had the courage to take these photos. If we all support efforts to eliminate this horror we will find a solution. I doubt that a government agency will ever solve this. It is left in the hands of Christ's church and all caring people. God bless,