Slumdog Millionaire: A Real Look into Mumbai’s Slums


mumbai slums

City of Dreams, Place of a Lifetime, The Manhattan of India, Land of Bollywood, India’s economic powerhouse – These are just a few of the names Mumbai (formerly Bombay) has come to be known as, over the years. While these name may ring true it reflects only one part of what Mumbai is, they fail to acknowledge and bring to light to the poverty that lies within the shadows of this cosmopolitan metropolis called Mumbai.

The recent success of the movie Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars, shed light on this side of Mumbai life in the Slums as it’s lead character (played by Dev Patel), takes part in the Indian version of ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’ and wins, only to be accused of cheating and while being interrogated, the movie highlights events from his life history and his childhood in a slum of Mumbai are shown, which explain how he knows the answers. While the movie portraying slum life in Mumbai has hardly been sugar coated for its audiences, it brought on strong reactions from the residents of Mumbai and even some of its slums describing the movie as being “exaggerated” and criticized the word “dog” in the title. Are these people in denial or blind to Mumbai’s poverty and slum dwellers? Or, just plain ignorant?

Here’s a real look into Mumbai’s slums…

Just how many people live in Slums in Mumbai?

According to the United Nations, one billion people worldwide live in slums, and 55% of the population of Mumbai lives in slums, which cover only 6-8% of the city’s land. Here’s a no nonsense look at some statistics which will highlight just how many people that is-

-       Mumbai is the most populated city in the world with approximately 14 million people living in the proper city itself, not including areas considered the urban area or the metropolitan area.

-       With a surface Area of 603 (km²). The Population density in Mumbai is 23,088 (/km²)

-        Approximately 7 million people live in slums in Mumbai.

-        It is said that 72.48% of this slum population is literate

-        Dharavi, Asia’s second largest slum is located in central Mumbai and houses a population of between 600,000 and 1 million people.

-         Roughly about one-third of the world’s poor people live in India. More than 450 million Indians exist on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank.

Slum Life in Mumbai

Some call the slums an embarrassing eyesore in the middle of India’s financial capital…Its residents call it home.

Sometimes Pictures speak louder than words. While I can’t even begin to put into words what life in the slums must be like, having lived a privileged life myself, here’s a collection images that show Slum life in Mumbai, the only thing missing is the smell that can only be described as part dry fish and part human waste along with a hundred others.

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A narrow street in the Kamgar Nagar I slum area, Mumbai, India

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