Is Slumdog Millionaire an Indian Film or an American?
The success of Slumdog Millionaire may have tempted many to feel that Bollywood has started to appeal more to Western audiences. But there are several viewpoints as noted here.
No discussion on the Indian film industry these days is without a reference to Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire. I is seen as a crossover film that work with audiences within and outside India, but appear to target the non-resident Indian. Such films are an attempt to reach more people, but then the Western audiences are very different and that as a filmmaker, you eventually have to “put your eggs in one basket. The more specific a film’s content is, the more rooted it is in its audience.
Learning for Indian Filmmakers
So what are the takeaways for Bollywood filmmakers from Slumdog Millionaire’s success?
Slumdog has done well, it is a recognized film and they’ve employed Indian talent which is being recognized in the West. But it is an American film, not an Indian-made film, even though it included the trademark Bollywood song-and-dance sequence.
They have showed Indian subjects, Indian actors and a rags-to-riches story, but then there are thousands of such films that have already been made, but this one has been made in an American context.
Here’s the Trailer of Slumdog Millionaire (From Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later). The movie is a 2008 British Indian drama film, and is an adaptation of the novel Q & A by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup.
It would be incorrect to view the appeal to Western audiences of certain films as an indication that Bollywood’s filmmakers are about to break into their studio markets. Read complete article here at India Knowledge@Wharton
Several critics, including Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, however felt that the movie was lauded because it had a Westerner at the helm. Had a similar movie been made by an Indian, the response probably would have been lacklustre.
SRK & Slumdog
Many are probably aware that SRK had rejected the role in this film that subsequently went to Anil Kapoor! Danny Boyle initially wanted SRK to play that part, and was a bit disappointed when SRK turned it down, but SRK supported Danny Boyle in every way he could during the making of the movie.
Nevertheless, Anil Kapoor did a fabulous job and his Hollywood career took off. Call it coincidence, the film in which Anil Kapoor played the role of a cynical quiz master was shot around the same time when King Khan was already hosting ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ (KBC).
SRK doesn’t regret that decision, because he feels that several such opportunities are going to come to Indian actors in the future. Shahrukh is aware that, as of now, Indian actors are recognized internationally because of the huge diaspora. Although he’s quite content working in Hindi films, he is hopeful that someday he will be part of a Hindi film that will appeal to the international audience.
Did You Know ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ Was Based on a Novel Written by Indian Diplomat?
The movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was a huge hit internationally, won several Oscars, and brought international acclaim to several Indian actors. The movie was appreciated by many because of its interesting story-line, and the unique idea that linked several different characters/aspects to the ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ show.
However, despite its huge success, not many people are aware that the movie is actually based on a novel that’s written by an Indian diplomat ‘Vikas Swarup’.
Senior diplomat Vikas Swarup has served in Indian diplomatic missions in several cities like Washington, Addis Ababa, London, Pretoria (as deputy high commissioner) and as Consul General in Osaka-Kobe in Japan. In his role, Swarup has dealt with several countries Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, besides handling the office of the foreign minister.
And post Slumdog Millionaire, life indeed has changed a bit for the diplomat. He gets invited to many more literary festivals now. Several more doors have opened up for him as a result of the global success of the film. He describes himself as “a diplomat who writes, not a writer who masquerades as a diplomat”. “I don’t believe my work is sacrosanct and cannot be touched,” says Swarup.
Vikas Swarup is also best known for his other novels:
Swarup may also consider script-writing in the long term. Says Swarup, “I don’t have the craft of a screenplay writer, but then I didn’t have the craft of a fiction writer either. I’ve read a lot of Hollywood scripts, but I’ve not read any Bollywood scripts. Once I get the hang of that, maybe I’ll be bold enough to try my hand at it.”
Vikas Swarup, a 1986 batch Indian Foreign Service officer, was recently in the news for being appointed as the spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).