One of Asia's top actresses on Tuesday defended Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire" against criticism that the film glossed over the reality of life in the slums of Mumbai.

Former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh - who worked with "Slumdog" director Danny Boyle on the 2007 sci-fi movie "Sunshine" - said the film was a fairy tale and shouldn't be confused with what life is actually like for India's poor.

"I've been to Mumbai," Yeoh said at a news conference promoting the Asian Film Awards. "The harsh reality of the place is such that there are certain places where it's horrible."

She said Boyle had to make "Slumdog Millionaire" upbeat because the true story of what it is like to live in a slum wouldn't have appealed to audiences.

"I don't think anybody could sit through a movie like that, where it just tugs at your heartstrings the whole time," she said.

"Slumdog Millionaire," which won eight Oscars on Sunday, including best film and best director, follows the journey of Jamal, who witnesses his mother's violent death, endures police torture and betrayal by his brother, while single-mindedly hoping to reunite with the lost love of his childhood.

Jamal's story unfolds through flashbacks as he recalls how he came to know the answers that made him a champion on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

"It's a fairy tale story. What are the odds something like that can happen? But that is the magic of filmmaking. So I am so proud of Danny," Yeoh said.

Yeoh, who started her career in Hong Kong but moved on to roles in Hollywood, also held up "Slumdog Millionaire" as an example of how Asian filmmakers can collaborate with their Western counterparts.

"That was a very Indian theme, but it was done by an English director. However, nowadays the film world is global. We should not say, 'This is only ours.' We should work together, share the technology, share the intellectual property, share the talent," Yeoh said.

Boyle himself has described the low-budget production as a merger of India's prolific Bollywood movie industry, which provided most of the cast and crew, and the global marketing reach of Hollywood, which turned the film into a commercial smash.