‘Slumdog Millionaire’ filmmakers say Oscar-winning movie is Indian at heart

By Min Lee, Gaea News Network
Saturday, June 13, 2009

‘Slumdog’ filmmakers say movie is Indian at heart

MACAU — It had a British director and was hailed at the Oscars in Los Angeles, but the box office hit “Slumdog Millionaire” is an Indian movie at heart because it embraces song and emotional expression, Bollywood filmmakers who worked on the production said Saturday.

The rags-to-riches story of an orphan from the slums of Mumbai who wins the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” won eight Oscars in February, including best picture and best director for Danny Boyle. It has earned more than $350 million worldwide.

Speaking at the Bollywood film industry’s annual roadshow weekend in the southern Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, veteran actor Anil Kapoor and sound engineer Resul Pookutty said they considered “Slumdog Millionaire” a thoroughly Indian movie.

“There’s no attempt from Danny (director Danny Boyle) at any given time to shy away from using emotion, shy away from using music. That’s the way Hindi films are done. We are not shying away from exposing ourselves emotionally. I think that’s the greatest strength of our movies and that’s what he (Boyle) picked up right on and in that sense, ‘Slumdog’ is a truly, originally Indian movie,” Pookutty said.

A third of the movie’s dialogue is also in Hindi.

But because the film was not Indian-produced, it is not among the nominees for Saturday night’s International Indian Film Academy’s annual awards, also in Macau.

Pookutty also said the movie has a modest soundtrack by Indian standards, saying composer A.R. Rahman wrote only 11 pieces of music for the film — compared to 160 to 170 for the average Hindi production. Both Pookutty and Rahman won Oscars for their work on the film.

Kapoor noted that the movie was based on the novel “Q & A” by Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup.

“The soul, the seed is from India, which is the most important thing,” Kapoor said.

Kapoor, who will play a Middle Eastern president in the eighth season of the U.S. anti-terror TV series “24,” also said he thought national distinctions were becoming increasingly irrelevant in the film industry.

“Today we have to think very, very globally. We should not think what is Indian, what is British and what is Chinese. I think we should all become one and make good films,” he said.

Kapoor also disagreed with criticism that “Slumdog Millionaire” exploited poverty in India.

“What you have to see is what the world is saying, what the country is saying. When that is unanimous and there are a few people here and there who are criticizing, it doesn’t matter because ultimately it is the world that has given the verdict,” he said.

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