Slumdog stars sued for defamation

Slumdog Millionaire, the runaway hit film that has charmed audiences around the world, seems to have hit a sour note with one Indian activist a day before its release in India.

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Tapeshwar Vishwakarma, representing a slum-dwellers\’ welfare group, is suing the film\’s music composer A R Rahman and one of its stars, actor Anil Kapoor, for depicting slum-dwellers in a bad light and violating their human rights.

Vishwakarma objected to the use of words such as “slumdogs” to describe the millions of inhabitants of India\’s cramped shantytowns, and filed a defamation case against the duo in the east Indian city of Patna, according to media reports Thursday.

Movie \’derogatory\’

His lawsuit alleges that the very name of the movie is derogatory and an affront to the dignity of India\’s many slum-dwellers.

The Golden Globe-winning film tells the rags-to-riches story of a young orphan from Mumbai who defies expectations to win the Indian version of the popular gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

It has won accolades in India and abroad, and is viewed as a possible contender for next month\’s Oscars.

Vishwakarma told the Times of India that he was only suing Kapoor and Rahman because they were more familiar to Indian audiences than the film\’s British director Danny Boyle.

Slumdog title \’hurts\’

“Vishwakarma made it clear that he hardly expected anything positive from a British filmmaker as their ancestors described us as \’dogs\’,” Vishwakarma\’s lawyer Shruti Singh told the Indo-Asian News Service.

“But what hurt him was that even Indians associated with the film hardly bothered to object to calling us a \’slumdog\’.”

The film\’s co-director Loveleen Tandon is quoted in the Mail Today newspaper as defending the movie, saying “the title is really not meant to be taken as insulting or offensive”.

The Patna court will hear the case on February 5.