Want to be a ‘Mill-un-aire’? Q and A about ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

By Sujay Kumar

In life there are few things worse than being electrocuted while hanging from the ceiling of an Indian jail. Right up there is being interrogated mercilessly about the one film that’s on everyone’s lips. So here it is, the spoiler-free and unofficial question and answer inspired by Slumdog Millionaire.

Q: Is Slumdog a Bollywood film?

A: Slumdog was directed by the very British Danny Boyle, but a co-direction credit has been given to India’s Loveleen Tandan. Shot in India with a cast and crew made up of mostly Indians, the film was funded with British and American money. British writer Simon Beaufoy penned the script, which was adapted from a novel by Vikas Swarup.

Usually when a film about India is in English it feels foreign, but what bridged this gap was the soundtrack by Bollywood staple AR Rahman. So, you be the judge.

Q: Was the plot not “Bollywood” enough?

A: Thinking Slumdog would be the antithesis of Bollywood, I was surprised. It would’ve been a really, really good plot for a Bollywood movie. It’s not that the Bollywood writers aren’t intelligent enough to make something like Slumdog, but that they don’t trust the intelligence of their fan base to do so.

Q: How are Indians across the world reacting to the film?

A: This one is complicated. Many Indians in America went from “eh, some British movie about slums” to “that’s our Slumdog,” after the critical buzz began.

King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan and some others in the industry have praised the film. Amitabh Bachchan, who is made fun of in Slumdog, blasted the movie for showing a bad side of India. And while my cousins in Kerala hadn’t heard of the movie a few weeks ago, some residents of Mumbai’s slums have protested the film.

Q: They’re upset about the name Slumdog?

A: The main argument is that while they are poor, the people of the slums are not dogs. While the Indians and Brits involved with the movie say that they are not “selling poverty,” the hate the name “Slumdog” may conjure up in the slums is nothing a British writer who “made up the word” and certain super rich Bollywood stars may understand.

Q: Is Bollywood for me, and what’s next?

A: Uh oh. This is why the timing of Slumdog couldn’t be worse. Bollywood is booming.

The money is flowing and the film technology is great, seemingly making the ultimate crossover plausible – even Snoop Dogg rapped in a movie.

Unfortunately, nearly every movie being churned out of the industry feels like a two and a half hour music video focused more on eight-pack abs than a well-built plot.

In early January, Warner Brothers tried to go where no one in Hollywood had gone before with the commercial release of India’s Chandni Chowk to China.

The rise of Slumdog and a clever advertising campaign (meaning Quicktime featured the trailer) made the film seem like a rip-roaring B-grade adventure.

But after reading some reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie was just bad. Maybe Aishwarya Rai can make a splash with her role in the upcoming The Pink Panther 2.

Q: Golden Globes? Oscars?

A: Yeah, yeah. Awards were and will continue to be won. Bollywood was in full form at the Golden Globes.

There was a close-up of “Mill-un-aire” host Anil Kapoor standing up and going wild while cheering. Man, has he come a long way from the movie Loafer.

AR Rahman thanked all of India, and the lead actress of Slumdog introduced the film while nervously standing next to Shah Rukh Khan, seemingly unsure if she should share the microphone with a Bollywood god.

It didn’t matter that Khan’s tie was tied around his neck and not, err, his collar.

Q: What’s with the song at the end of the movie?

A) Tribute to Bollywood

B) Mockery of Bollywood

C) Way to get audiences to laugh

D) Bollywood’s crossing over.

Sujay is a senior in biochemistry. Would you like to lock that final answer?