There’s no doubt Danny Boyle’s film Slumdog Millionaire shines the spotlight on Mumbai it has long deserved.
The film reflects the fluorescent colour of the city, the power and the glory of an urban sprawl that is home to 16 million people.
But a story about slum life was never going to be entirely sympathetic. There are positive elements to Slumdog, just as there are positive elements to life in Mumbai – but the film ran into trouble in India for adhering to negative stereotypes.
Not everyone lives in a slum, said critics, and significant improvement projects are under way.
It may seem voyeuristic, but a tour of Mumbai’s Dhavari district allows you to judge for yourself. The largest slum in Asia and home to more than a million people, this is the India the brochures never show.
You might argue you can see poverty anywhere in the world – the UK included – but rarely with the complexity and contradictions Dhavari offers.
Tours depart from the Coloba district in downtown Mumbai – see realitytoursandtravel.com.
You might come away with more questions than answers, but it provides a fascinating glimpse of a life unknown in the west.
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