Adapted by screenwriter Simon Beaufoy from a novel by Vikas Swarup .
Swarup is an Indian diplomat and he is from a middle-class Indian family - his parents were lawyers.
Beaufoy is a British writer who often writes about working class culture – previous screenplays include The Full Monty and Yasmin. HE VISITED India and talked to slum dwellers at least three times in the script-writing process.
- Director, Danny Boyle , is British – from Lancashire and a working class Irish Catholic background
Slumdog was co-directed in India by Loveleen Tandan (Indian filmmaker.)
It was nominated for 10 Oscars in 2009 and won eight , the most for any film of 2008, including Best Picture and Best Director.
It also won seven BAFTAS and 4 Golden Globe awards.
The main actor, Dev Patel , was British.
The dialogue is a mixture of English and Hindi
What part of India do we see? India is such a vast country, no film can hope to represent it all. This film largely focuses on Mumbai, although we see various regions of India through the brothers’ train journey and we see the Taj Mahal, where they seek to make money from tourists.
How far are the audience’s ideas and preconceptions about India confirmed or challenged?
Accurately Representing the Two Sides of India? 1.) Impoverished India: The India of Mother Teresa still exists. Because it is side-by-side with the new India, it is easily seen. People living in the streets. A woman crawling from a cardboard box. Men bathing at a fire hydrant. Men relieving themselves by the roadside. 2.) Middle Class India: On the other hand, the world's largest middle class, mostly lower-middle, but all the more admirable. The India of millionaires. Mercedes-Benzes and Audis. Traffic like Demo Derby. Luxury condos. Exploding education. A booming computer segment. Slumdog bridges these two India's by cutting between a world of poverty and the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." It tells the story of an orphan from the slums of Mumbai who is born into a brutal existence. A petty thief, impostor and survivor, mired in dire poverty, he improvises his way up through the world and remembers everything he has learned. (Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun Times )
Bride and Prejudice - Street Scene It is a far cry from the image of India usually portrayed in Bollywood films – why do you think many Indian-made films chose to ignore the existence of the slums and poverty completely? (Bride and Prejudice, 2004, Gurinder Chada, UK film)
Does the ending negate the realism of the rest of the film?
"This is a film so upbeat and colourful that, by the time you're relaying its infectious air of optimism to friends, you could forget that it features orphans, slaughter, organised crime, poverty, enslavement and police brutality in its crowd-pleasing repertoire of suffering and renewal,"
"Hell, it even ends with a get-up-and-dance Bollywood number on the platform of Mumbai's Victoria Terminus.”
Does the poster contradict the image of India portrayed in the film?
Boyle was slightly uncomfortable with the film's marketing campaign, which features posters of the two leads grinning in a shower of confetti with a quote calling it the "feel-good film of the decade".
Considering that the film features poverty, torture and murder, says Boyle, "You can't go in expecting it to be 'Mamma Mia!'” (The Independent)
After its rapturous reception in Britain and America, knives are being sharpened for Slumdog Millionaire . " Vile ," is how Alice Miles described the movie in The Times. Slumdog Millionaire is poverty porn" that invites the viewer to enjoy the miseries it depicts , she adds.
"If Slumdog Millionaire projects India as a third-world, dirty, underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations…It's just that the Slumdog Millionaire idea, authored by an Indian and conceived and cinematically put together by a westerner, gets creative global recognition ," (Amitabh Bachchan - Bollywood actor)
The bitter truth is, Slumdog Millionaire could only have been made by westerners … Bollywood producers, fixated with making flimsy films about the lives of the middle class, will never throw their weight behind such projects. Like Bachchan, they are too blind to what India really is to deal with it.
Poor Indians, like those in Slumdog, do not constitute India's "murky underbelly" as Bachchan moronically describes them. They, in fact, are the nation .
Over 80% of Indians live on less than $2.50 ( ｣ 1.70) a day; In Mumbai alone, 2.6 million children live on the street or in slums, and 400,000 work in prostitution . But these people are absent from mainstream Bollywood cinema.
(Comments from article by Nirpal Dhaliwal: English journalist with parents from the Punjab)
“ Bachchan's blinkered comments prove how hopelessly blind he and most of Bollywood are to the reality of India and how wholly incapable they are of making films that can address it.”
(The Guardian, Nirpal Dhaliwal)
Many fans have rushed to the defence of Boyle's movie. "Slumdog doesn't show a complete picture of India or Indians, but few movies show a complete picture of any place or people, particularly a sprawling, expressive, multicultural city like Mumbai. You see a mere slice. Slumdog shows poverty, and it shows wealth, and it shows someone who survives one and is unconcerned with the other. What he is concerned with is LOVE. And that is so Indian.“ (Indian respondent on Bachchan’s blog)
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film three out of five stars, stating that
"despite the extravagant drama and some demonstrations of the savagery meted out to India's street children, this is a cheerfully undemanding and unreflective film with a vision of India that, if not touristy exactly, is certainly an outsider's view; it depends for its full enjoyment on not being taken too seriously."
Task: How would audiences ‘read’/ decode the ideologies encoded into these representations?
Using Stuart Hall’s Reception theory consider which of the
3 readings these audience would take…
A Western audience member
A middle class Indian
Can you think of any other audiences that may take different readings?
Reflection: The Representation of India in Slumdog Do you think an outsider can create a better image of a country than a native of that country? Do you think they have a right to represent that country? Can the representation of India in this film ever be said to reflect the whole country? What functions do you think a national representation fulfils?