Slumdog Capitalism: The changing image of India’s largest slum

Thomas Blom Hansen and Sumeet Mhaskar
Date and Time: 
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 4:30pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


For decades known as Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi was one of the central settings of the blockbuster ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. This one million strong slum community in Mumbai had for long been notorious for its deep poverty and endemic violence, the hellhole in the city. This was brought out in films and fiction, among them the celebrated 1992 film ‘Dharavi’, featuring some of India’s best actors. However, with India’s new path towards liberalization slums in general, and Dharavi in particular, suddenly began to be represented as a site of hope and creativity. Pitched as a human laboratory of entrepreneurship, tour operators would take hundreds of tourists, academics and policy makers on tours through the slum, showing off human ingenuity and survival skills in their ‘natural’ environment.

This session will feature clips from ‘Dharavi’ and more recent documentary films about the area. Dharavi and the film clips will be introduced by Thomas Blom Hansen (Anthropology) and will be discussed by Sumeet Mhaskar, a sociologist of Mumbai, visiting scholar at Center for South Asia.