‘Smear campaign hits Oscar-favourite Slumdog Millionaire’

London (IANS): Oscar-frontrunner “Slumdog Millionaire” is probably being targeted by an organised tinsel-town smear campaign with an eye on gate receipts, British and US newspapers say.

“Could an organised smear campaign be about to derail the extraordinary rags-to-riches story of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’?” The Independent said on Saturday after the film’s makers were hit by a barrage of negative publicity this week.

The British filmmakers have been accused of peddling “poverty porn” and of underpaying and exploiting child actors from the slums, forcing the director, producer and distributor to issue point-by-point denials.

A commentary in the Los Angeles Times, headlined “the conspiracy raging against ‘Slumdog Millionaire'”, has said director Danny Boyle’s film is now “unquestioned front-runner and an easy target for rivals”.

“Forces [are] at work in India trying to disparage Danny Boyle’s surprise hit,” said the article by film critic Pete Hammond, who referred to the “suspicious circumstances” surrounding the negative articles “on the very day Oscar ballots were being mailed”.

Highly fancied films that have faced criticism in the run up to the Oscars in recent years include “A Beautiful Mind”, “The Hurricane” and “Brokeback Mountain”, which was seen as “unpatriotic” for its portrayal of gay cowboys.

The Independent said winning the best picture at the Oscars can add $100 million to a film’s box-office takings and producers invest about $200 million every year in advertising to support their pictures’ Oscar campaign.

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