Slumdog Millionaire: Global Film?
The Media Student’s Book: p.163
Read the case study on Slumdog Millionaire and answer the following questions:
- Explain where the storyline for the film came from. Give examples.
The story begins with Vitkram Swarup, an Indian diplomat in London and author of the source novel, Q&A. he appears to have drawn on two specific new stories – one in the UK and one in India. A retired army officer in the UK was found convicted of fraud after cheating on the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Since the show was massivley popular in India, Swarup then thought, ‘who would be the least lickely winner of the top prize in the Indian version – who might be accused of cheating?’ A scientist in Dheli experimented by putting a computer only accessible into a poor area of the city. The children quickly learned how to use computers without any help from adults. From these two stories Swarup constructed the narrative of a young man from the slums who knows the answers to the quiz questions because they each refer to something he has experienced in his life, rather than knowledge he gained through education.
- List the ways in which Simon Beaufoy changed the story. Explain why this was done. (p. 164)
- The central character becomes muslim and one of the two brothers from Mumbai slum. His name is changed to Jumal. In the novel, the character is an orphan brought up in an English cleryman’s house in Dheli and there is an explanation of why he can speak English and why he has a name that spans India’s three major religions.
- Several of the sub-plots are removed to make the story line clearer.
- The romance element is made more important and runs across the whole story line.
- How did Tessa Ross and Christian Colson arrange funding? Why is this significant? (p. 165)
While Beaufoy was doing this work, Ross was securing the property in partnership with producer Christian Colson. A well-known UK producer of smaller films, Colson was in 2005 still associated with Celador Films, part of the group that owned the rights to WWTBAM. Swarup had not used the show’s title in the novel, but Ross thought that it was essential to be able to use it in the film. When Colson secured these rights, he was able to fund the production of the film to pathe in the UK and Ireland and France, Warner Bros in North America and other companies in territories around the world. With the revenue from this sale, Colson could cover the costs of production but would retain control – meaning that the film would remain a UK production without interference from the Hollywood distributor.
- Explain the term ‘Bollywood’ (p. 165/168)
Bollywood is relitvely recent term. It refers to certain forms of popular cinema made in hindi, the official language of India understood by about 40 percent of the population, mainly in the north. The capital of Bollywood is Mumbai where about two hundred films are made each year (with big budgets).Most people outside of India have heard of ‘Bollywood’ but although this is arguably the richest and most high profile of the Indian film industries, it is not representative of all Indian cinema.
- What was the impact of Warner Bros closing it’s ‘specialist’ film labels on the distribution of Slumdog Millionaire? How was this resolved? (p. 166)
There was every chance that Slumdog would be pushed straight to DVD in North America as a result. Boyle and Colson rushed to Hollywood to try and save the film and succeed in persuading Warner Bros to sell the rights to another studios specialist division, Fox searchlight. Fox searchlight had extreme success with taking low budget films and taking it into mainstream cinemas.
- Slumdog Millionaire is not a Hollywood film. Explain how it has been caught between Hollywood and Bollywood. (p. 167-170)
Slumdog is not a Hollywood film, though it has been taken to be one. In fact, for several reasons, Slumdog has been caught between Hollywood and Bollywood. Few audiences around the world think that it is British film. Partly this is because the film has been so successful that is has by accident, fulfilled the strong desire on behalf of both Hollywood and Bollywood producers to create a film that could succeed in both markets and then around the world.
- In your opinion, what made Slumdog Millionaire a successful film? Discuss pre-production, production, distribution and exhibition.
Slumdog millionaire was a successful film because of the different languages it was screened in. It was a big hit in India as it was mistaken for three types of films Hollywood, Bollywood and British. The film looks quite cultural and traditional. It was an eye opener to the poverty in India and the parts that you don't often see. People had read the book so they knew what types of things they were expecting and books are often made film successes. The production of the film would have taken quite a lot of work because not everyone would have spoken English that well so getting the image across to the actors and the child actors would have been quite hard.