Rags And Riches: The Setting For "Slumdog"

A population that thrives in the shadows is now thrust into the international spotlight.

"Yeah! Everyone is speaking about Slumdog Millionaire, Slumdog Millionaire," says Jaison Thangaraj.

The Dharavi slum - the setting for the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" - defies definition, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane.

Even the film's 8-year-old star was shocked by the poverty.

"There are many people who had stayed in road, near gutters - ate near gutters… all mosquitoes on their bodies," says actor Ayush Mahesh Khedekar.

It's known as one of Asia's largest slums - about a million people live here, packed into an area that is less than one square mile. Somewhere around 50 percent of Mumbai's population lives in a slum like this one - and while there are the stories of struggling you might expect - there are also ones that might surprise you.

Twenty-one-year-old Jaison Thangaraj grew up here and shares a tiny home with his parents and sister. He's working hard to get out - by studying for an engineering degree.

"It's a mindset for people - Dharavi is just a slum, slum, slum," Jaison says. "Have they ever come and saw this?"

Maybe not before - but the movie generated business for slum tours - "Reality Tours" lets outsiders explore Dharavi.

"It's really shocking how organized it all is - that there are commercial districts and residential and that there is water and electricity - and services...and schools," says Dages Keates of Brooklyn, N.Y.

But, tours are not the only business.

A maze of makeshift homes and 10,000 small businesses generate an annual GDP of more than $600 million - all in an area smaller than New York City's Central Park.

There's gem-stone embroidery, stones chipped to grind grain and a leather industry which employs 40,000 people.

Believe it or not, Dharavi slum means opportunity for some, Doane reports. Some boys make just about $50 a month here making small leather wallets - but there were no jobs at all where they came from.

Two-thirds of India's population lives on less than $2 a day.

In one small shop, kids say that while education would be a way out, their families depend on their earnings.

But earning a million dollars here - even on the Indian TV show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" - seems out of reach.

"The movie is false," says Arvind, who has lived in Dharavi for 40 years. "A guy from Dharavi would never be considered for the show."

When the movie opened here, it sparked scattered protests among those offended by the word "dog" in the title.

"Indians have always been sensitive to the way that Indian poverty and the lack of development among vast sections of the Indian population have been portrayed in cinema," says film critic Nandini Ramnath.

Still, "Slumdog Millionaire" was the 4th-biggest weekend box office opening ever for any Hollywood film released in India. It's the kind of success that Jaison hopes believes could generate hope and investment in a place that could use both.

"Yeah, I'm definitely proud of living here," Jaison says. "I want to change the whole face of Dharavi, you know?"

And that would be a real Hollywood ending.