The Real Slumdog, No Millionaire


While on the streets of Hardiwar, India a couple weeks ago, me and my travel partner encountered one of our first real street hustlers. A kid not older than 13 worked us hard to make cash. We were taking photos of many of the people with no consequence but this kid recognized an opportunity to make some money. I donated 20 rupees to his hustling-cause, but after three frames, he wanted another 20 rupees. I showed him that I overexposed by accident getting bad shots on 2 of the 3 frames to which he was quick with a reply, “Yes but your friend got two shots. 20 rupees if you want more.” He was a ball of energy, moving fast, yelling and working me and the crowd for anything he could make. After watching the film, Slumdog Millionaire, I had a lot of preconceived notions of India, including fears of being constantly hustled. After a week there spending the majority of my time in a crowd of 16 million people, I rarely felt hustled if at all other than this one moment. The people of India were incredibly generous, rich in spirit, and full of pride and culture. Some Indians find the term Slumdog insulting but it’s a term we are all now familiar with thanks to Hollywood (Bollywood?) and one I wanted to share some new insight on.

2 responses to “The Real Slumdog, No Millionaire

  1. nice frame! I can hear the banter going in it! not sure about the coins for pix, tho. That’s a western idea, related to models/releases. David DuChemin has an interesting take on it in his book VisionMongers. Michael Clark put me onto it… a good read, especially if you’re on the road. peace and fair winds to you.

    • Thanks! I appreciate the comment. I think paying for a likeness or cooperation is a good thing. High end models have careers for it. I don’t believe in paying for photojournalistic images because it takes the realism out of it. It’s a tough one overall though, especially in a country where I saw many kids laying in the streets near death.

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