Slumdog Millionaire


Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Simon Beaufoy, and co-directed in India by Loveleen Tandan. It is an adaptation of the Boeke Prize-winning and Commonwealth Writers' Prize-nominated novel Q & A (2005) by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup.

Set and filmed in India, Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a young man from the slums of Mumbai who appears on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Kaun Banega Crorepati, mentioned in the Hindi version) and exceeds people's expectations, arousing the suspicions of the game show host and of law enforcement officials.

After its world premiere at Telluride Film Festival and subsequent screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival and the London Film Festival, Slumdog Millionaire initially had a limited North American release on 12 November 2008 by Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, to critical acclaim and awards success. It later had a nationwide grand release in the United Kingdom on 9 January 2009 and in the United States on 23 January 2009. It premiered in Mumbai on 22 January 2009. The DVD and Blu-ray versions are set to be released on 31 March 2009.

Slumdog Millionaire was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 2009 and won eight, the most for any film of 2008, including Best Picture and Best Director. It also won five Critics' Choice Awards, four Golden Globes, and seven BAFTA Awards, including Best Film. Despite the film's success, it is the subject of controversy concerning its portrayals of Indians and Hinduism as well as the welfare of its child actors.

Plot

Set in 2006, the film opens with a notorious scene in Mumbai, torturing Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a former street child from the Dharavi slums. In the opening scene, a title card is presented: "Jamal Malik is one question away from winning 20 million rupees. How did he do it? A) He cheated, B) He's lucky, C) He's a genius, D) It is written." At the end of the film, the answer is given. Jamal is a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Kaun Banega Crorepati) hosted by Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor) in which he was on the show and won 20,000,000 rupees (about US$500,000). Jamal has made it to the final question, scheduled for the next day, but thanks to a tip-off from the host, the police are now accusing him of cheating, because the other possibilities, that he has a vast knowledge, or that he is very lucky, both seem unlikely.

Jamal then explains that, while at least the question about Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan was very simple, he knew the answers of most questions by chance, because of things that happened in his life. This is conveyed in a series of flashbacks documenting the particulars of his childhood. This includes scenes of him obtaining Bachchan's autograph, the death of his mother during the Hindu anti-Muslim violence, rekindling the memory of the 1993 anti-Muslim attacks in Mumbai by Hindu nationalists in the slums, and how he and his brother Salim befriend Latika (Freida Pinto) (he refers to Salim and himself as Athos and Porthos, and Latika as the third Musketeer.)

The children are eventually discovered by Maman (Ankur Vikal) while they live in the trash heaps. Maman is a gangster (a fact they do not actually know at the time they meet him) who "collects" street children so that he can ultimately train them to beg for money. Salim is groomed to become a part of Maman’s operation and is asked to bring Jamal to Maman in order to be blinded (which would improve his income potential as a singing beggar). Salim protects his brother, and the three children try to escape; but only Salim and Jamal are able to do so. Salim purposely lets go of Latika's hand as she tries to board a train they are hopping. Latika is re-captured by Maman's organization and raised as a culturally talented prostitute whose virginity will fetch a high price.

The brothers eke out a living, traveling on top of trains, selling goods, pretending to be tour guides at the Taj Mahal, and picking pockets. Jamal eventually insists that they return to Mumbai since he wishes to locate Latika. When he finds her working as a dancer in a brothel, the brothers attempt to rescue her, but Maman intrudes, and in the resulting conflict Salim draws a gun and kills Maman. Salim then uses the fact that he killed Maman to obtain a job with Javed (Mahesh Manjrekar), a rival crime lord. Salim claims Latika as his own and when Jamal protests, Salim threatens to kill him and Latika intervenes, accepting her fate with Salim and breaking Jamal's heart.

Years later, Jamal has a position as a "chai-wallah" (a boy or young man who serves tea) at a call centre. When he is asked to cover for a co-worker for a couple of minutes, he searches the database for Salim and Latika. He gets in touch with Salim, who has become a high-ranking lieutenant in Javed’s organization. Jamal confronts a regretful Salim on tense terms. Salim invites Jamal to live with him and, after following Salim to Javed's house, he sees Latika living there. He talks his way in as the new chef and tries to convince Latika to leave. She rebuffs his advances, but he promises to be at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station every day at 5 p.m. for her. She tries to discourage him, but on the first day that Jamal waits there, Latika attempts to rendezvous with him, but is recaptured by Salim and Javed's men. One of the men then slashes her cheek with a knife, scarring her as Salim drives off, leaving Jamal with the onlooking crowd.

Jamal again loses contact with Latika when Javed moves to another house. In another attempt to find Latika, Jamal tries out for the popular game show because he knows that she will be watching. He makes it to the final question, despite the hostile attitude of the host who feeds Jamal a wrong answer during a break. At the end of the show, Jamal has one question left to win two crore, or 20 million rupees (£281,301, $388,275 U.S.), but the host calls the police and Jamal is taken into police custody, where he is tortured as the police attempt to learn how he, a simple "slumdog," could know the answers to so many questions. After Jamal tells his whole story, explaining how his life experiences coincidentally enabled him to know the answer to each question, the police inspector calls Jamal's explanation "bizarrely plausible" and, knowing he's not in it for the money, allows him to return to the show for the final question.

At Javed's safehouse, Latika watches the news coverage of Jamal's miraculous run on the show. Salim gives Latika his phone and the keys to his car. He urges her to run away and to "forgive him for what he has done". When Jamal uses his Phone-A-Friend lifeline to call Salim, Latika answers his phone and they reconnect. She does not know the answer to the final question either but, believing that "it is written", she tells Jamal in unsubtitled Hindi, "I'm yours" right before the phone connection is cut. Jamal guesses the correct answer (Aramis) to the question of the one Musketeer whose name they never learned, and wins the grand prize. Simultaneously, Salim is discovered to have helped Latika escape and allows himself to be killed in a bathtub full of money after shooting and killing Javed. Salim's last words are "God is great." Later that night, Jamal and Latika meet at the railway station and they share a kiss. It is then revealed that the correct answer to the opening question is: D) it is written, or implying that it is destiny. In a scene reminiscent of many Bollywood musicals, they then dance, along with dozens of bystanders and even the juvenile versions of themselves, in the train station during the end credits.
[edit]Differences from the book Q & A

Q & A (novel)

The Bombay Hindu-Muslim riots played no role in the book, as the ethnic or religious heritage of the main character was uncertain. In the book, the character of Jamal is instead named 'Ram Mohammad Thomas'. He was given a Hindu name, Muslim name and Christian name by the village elders in order to maintain the balance between all the religious communities after his mother abandoned him after birth. Unlike the movie, Ram does not have a biological brother, but Salim is instead his best friend in the novel. He grows up in an orphanage and his only 'brothers' are his fellow orphans. He never knew his mother. Ram is adopted by a Christian priest as a youth, which is where he learns English, and then is nearly molested by a visiting priest. The priest scenes were not included in the script for the movie, and the movie does not explain how Jamal learned fluent English. Latika is not his childhood friend in the book but rather a prostitute named Nita that Ram falls in love with in a brothel when he's 18.

Production

Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy wrote Slumdog Millionaire based on the Boeke Prize winning and Commonwealth Writers' Prize nominated novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup. To hone the script, Beaufoy made three research trips to India and interviewed street children, finding himself impressed with their attitudes. The screenwriter said of his goal for the script: "I wanted to get (across) the sense of this huge amount of fun, laughter, chat, and sense of community that is in these slums. What you pick up on is this mass of energy."

By the summer of 2006, British production companies Celador Films and Film4 Productions invited director Danny Boyle to read the script of Slumdog Millionaire. Boyle initially hesitated, since he was not interested in making a film about Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, which was produced by Celador. However, Boyle soon found out that the screenwriter was Beaufoy, who had written The Full Monty (1997), one of the director's favorite British films, and decided to revisit the script.] Boyle was impressed by how Beaufoy wove the multiple storylines from Swarup's book into one narrative, and the director decided to commit to the project. The film was projected to cost US$15 million, so Celador sought a U.S. distributor to share costs. Fox Searchlight Pictures made an initial offer that was reportedly in the $2 million range, but Warner Independent Pictures made a $5 million offer to win rights to the picture.

Gail Stevens came on board to oversee casting globally. Stevens has worked with Boyle throughout his career and is well-known for discovering new talent. Meredith Tucker was appointed to cast out of the US. The film-makers then travelled to Mumbai in September 2007 with a partial crew and began hiring local cast and crew for production in Karjat. Originally appointed as one of the five casting directors in India, Loveleen Tandan, has stated that she "suggested to Danny and Simon Beaufoy, the writer of Slumdog, that it was important to do some of it in Hindi to bring the film alive [...] They asked me to pen the Hindi dialogues which I, of course, instantly agreed to do. And as we drew closer to the shoot date, Danny asked me to step in as the co-director." Boyle then decided to translate nearly a third of the film's English dialogue into Hindi. The director fibbed to Warner Independent's president that he wanted 10% of the dialogue in Hindi, and she approved of the change. Filming locations included shooting in Mumbai's megaslum and in shantytown parts of Juhu, so film-makers controlled the crowds by befriending onlookers. Filming began on 5 November 2007.

In addition to Swarup's original novel Q & A, the film was also inspired by Indian cinema. Tandan has referred to Slumdog Millionaire as an homage to Hindi commercial cinema, noting that "Simon Beaufoy studied Salim-Javed's kind of cinema minutely." Boyle has cited the influence of several Bollywood films set in Mumbai. Satya (screenplay co-written by Saurabh Shukla, who plays Constable Srinivas in Slumdog Millionaire) and Company (based on the D-Company) both offered "slick, often mesmerizing portrayals of the Mumbai underworld" and displayed realistic "brutality and urban violence." Boyle has also stated that the chase in one of the opening scenes of Slumdog Millionaire was based on a "12-minute police chase through the crowded Dharavi slum" in Black Friday (adapted from S. Hussein Zaidi's book of the same name about the 1993 Bombay bombings). Deewaar, which Boyle described as being "absolutely key to Indian cinema," is a crime film based on the Bombay gangster Haji Mastan, portrayed by Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, whose autograph Jamal sought at the beginning of Slumdog Millionaire. Anil Kapoor noted that some scenes of the film "are like Deewaar, the story of two brothers of whom one is completely after money while the younger one is honest and not interested in money." Boyle has cited other Indian films as influences in subsequent interviews. The rags to riches underdog theme underlying the film was also a recurring theme in classic Bollywood movies from the 1950s through to the 1980s, when "India worked to lift itself from hunger and poverty." Other classic Bollywood tropes in the film include "the fantasy sequences" and the montage sequence where "the brothers jump off a train and suddenly they are seven years older".

Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan, [the host of last aired episode,till release of this movie] for Kaun Banega Crorepati (the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), was initially offered the role of the show's host in the film, but he eventually turned it down (the role was ultimately played by another Bollywood star, Anil Kapoor). Paul Smith, the executive producer of Slumdog Millionaire and the chairman of Celador Films, had previously owned the international rights to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Credit: Wikipedia).

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