Real Life Slumdogs Coming To Sky One

by Lisa McGarry

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It’s the quintessential modern-day fairytale of every young boy’s dream. A rags to riches story of a child born into poverty whose life is transformed to bigger, better things, away from the stench and disease of the Mumbai slums.

But the story of the ‘kid done good’ isn’t just a Hollywood script. This timely film will give hope to even the poorest of kids. Introducing the genuine, aspirational and entrepreneurial slum-dwelling kids, who have triumphed through luck or hard work. This is the world of the Real Life Slumdog Millionaires.

To millions of slum dwellers in India, it’s a familiar theme – getting ahead, getting out and getting rich. In Mumbai and Delhi the number of street beggar kids and the families that survive on handouts now exceeds the entire population of Great Britain.

Lawless, without access to education, and hopeless, the children born to the poorest communities in the world are destined to live under tin roofs in areas lined by shacks packed so tightly they are accessible only by walking in single file past oozing sewers. But there is hope for the young slum generation.

Real Life Slumdogs is a one-off documentary that will transport the viewer – in crystal clear high definition – to Mumbai – the commercial heartbeat of India. Mumbai is the subcontinent’s answer to London or New York, where the preoccupations are wealth and celebrity.

Dharavi, a bustling shanty town on the edge of the city is seen as a launch pad for India’s rural migrants seeking a break in Mumbai. It has a thriving (if chaotic) re-cycling industry and is home to over 600,000 souls people). Sky1 pick’s up where the film finishes – what happens once you’ve had a life changing injection of money?

Andrew O’Connell, Commissioning Editor, Factual says: “Everyone knows the story of Jamal, ‘The Slumdog Millionaire’ but what is life like for the REAL slumdogs? We wanted to explore this fascinating underworld and meet the interesting characters who have turned their lives around in a similar way to Jamal. Just like in the film these people’s lives will touch, inspire and surprise the audience.

The Real Slumdog Millionaires, screening exclusively on Sky1 and Sky1 HD, reveals the real-life inspirations for this Dickensian-like fairytale. The Yuva Parivartan, a project kick-started by the Kherwadi Social Welfare Association, provides hope for the hopeless. Working with the motto “Making the Unemployable Employable”, the scheme has changed the lives of the Slumdog generation, offering vocational and educational opportunities, as well as psychological support. The kids who got out include Preema, the seventh child to struggling parents, who was rag-picking at the age of six, feeding herself on leftover scraps from street bins. Accepting help from the Yuva Parivartan, Preema is now attending university in Mumbai. Another uplifting story is that of Rahul, a former petty thief who took advantage of unsuspecting tourists and went on to become an engineer and mentor for the Yuva Parivartan.

Poignant and touching, you can’t help but be inspired by these real slumdogs who have been given a second chance at life.

The Real Life Slumdog Millionaires, Monday 23 February 22.00, Sky1 and Sky1 HD

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