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Reading Swarup, Watching Boyle

January 26, 2009

When I read Vikas Swarup’s Q & A a year or so ago, I was intrigued and disappointed equally. I felt the author had focused all his energies on the tight and intricate plot, moving rapidly through it with no slip-ups, but this resulted in a grand plot outline rather than a novel. The prose is functional, characters inked in strongly but with little nuance, and when it all comes together with a click at the end, it is sort of morbidly satisfying, but one feels cheated nevertheless. All the more so because the story lingers stubbornly in memory.

I was interested enough keep track of Swarup, and found an interview in which he said that after writing four chapters he had to wind it up in a month since he was getting posted back to India and knew he would not have time for it back home.

“It was August 2003, and I had one more month in London. The plot was in my mind, so I took up the challenge and wrote down the remaining chapters in one month. Over one weekend I wrote 20,000 words.”

Well, that certainly explained the strange slightness and lack of density – the author’s hurry to reach the finish line shows drastically.

After seeing Slumdog Millionaire though, Q & A in retrospect appears serpentine in its complexity, so completely has Danny Boyle  extracted the simplest and most predictable story line out of it.

Swarup’s novel is not straightforwardly realistic – the artifice of the plot is in your face, and it works as a sort of fable at one level. Boyle’s film, for all its much-referred to “grittiness”, is a fuzzy mushy literal predictable Hollywood story about  “human spirit” and “human dignity”; stunning in its meaningless universalism, of the sort we have seen a million times.

Swarup’s novel is about luck, about the sheer chance of almost every question on the quiz show relating to some segment or experience in his young hero’s life.  Almost presciently, Swarup, in that interview in 2005 had said firmly, ” There is no karma in my novel. There is no dharma in my novel.”

Boyle predictably, makes it precisely about karma and destiny – “It was written” are the last words in the film.

Swarup’s main character is named Ram Muhammad Thomas, and there is a plot line to explain how the infant abandoned in a dust-bin ends up with this self-consciously Indian secular cliche of a name. Boyle turns him into a Muslim whose mother is killed in communal violence – utterly plausible of course, but flat. How much more poignant the strangely named character of no known religion getting caught up in communal hate.

Ram Muhammad Thomas’s sufferings are relentless, and he encounters villains of all sorts – the begging mafia, the underworld, you name it – all of which of course, contributes to the fund of knowledge that enables him to answer the questions. But he also finds people who love and support him – the Christian priest who rescues him from the rubbish dump, for example, and the young lawyer who comes to help him when he is charged with cheating to win the game-show (she is also integral to the plot and has a history with RMT that we discover only later, but she has been done away with in the film.)

In Boyle’s film, there are but two innocents – Jamal and Latika – the rest are tainted with cruelty of one sort or the other – from the audience  that laughs mockingly at the chaiwala aspiring to be a millionaire, to the family in the train that throws the boys off the roof of a speeding train for stealing a roti.

There is one, and only one “good” person that Jamal in the film encounters – the American woman who gives him a hundred dollar note after he is beaten by a chauffeur.

“You wanted to see the real India. Here it is,” Jamal tells her. “Well, here’s the real America,” the woman replies, getting her husband to pull out the hundred-dollar bill.

As Siddhartha Deb wrote in his review,

“For that scene alone, Slumdog Millionaire should receive an Oscar. And now, will the real Americans please step up and hand me the hundred-dollar bills? “

In the book, if I remember correctly, it happens to be an Australian diplomat who is responsible for RMT’s  familiarity with a hundred dollar bill (a bit of knowledge crucial for the plot), and I’m pretty certain there is no smug American woman, but this is not about fidelity to the novel. I don’t really care about that. The point is that Boyle’s staggering simplicity of perspective reproduces an “India” always already familiar to the West, an India bereft of history and nuance, and which leaves me remembering Swarup’s Q & A with more charity that I had for it when I read it.

Look, don’t get me wrong, the film is fine, and I am not one of those who is worried about India being “depicted in poor light” – that’s our light, and we’d better deal with it. But what the hell is going on with all the hype? All the nominations everywhere? What am I missing? It’s technically polished of course, but that’s all it takes for “the West” to take notice?

I’m aware of course, that nominations are about bloody good PR work and smart wheeling-dealing agents. So we get to see Freida Pinto on Jay Leno, coming across well, unlike Indian celebrities on talk-shows, who generally dont know the routine of dead-pan wit and carefully scripted spontaneous quips. It was clear she had a good script, and she did it well, if a little nervously. “I have promised a friend I’d do something stupid, do you mind”, she asks Leno. He looks suitably wary, and she reaches across and touches his silvery hair -you see what I mean? I like her though, she is unpretentious and bright, and competent in the film, but a BAFTA nomination for Supporting Actor? She has barely fifteen minutes in the film all told, of good, competent work, that’s it. She’s smart enough and honest enough not to be overwhelmed by the nomination, though.  In an interview to Indian Express on Sunday (January 25), she said:

“I can’t understand what’s happening. It’s too early. I’m taking it as BAFTA’s compliment to me. My agent in the US says that I’ll always be called BAFTA nominee Freida Pinto.”

Good agent, who pulled off that.  S/he understood that for someone like Freida, a nomination is sufficient.

I sound mean and ungenerous and cynical about a young bright woman with a great acting career ahead of her. But it’s not about Freida here. I’m simply thinking (as which Indian isn’t) about which “Indian” films and actors crack the glass ceiling of the Anglo-American film industry, and which do not. And how that happens.

As for Rahman – oh Rahman. If this smoothly fusioned unquirky “international” sound is what it takes to be recognized by the West, I for one herewith derecognize the man, his heart-break be damned.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Aman permalink
    January 27, 2009 1:21 PM

    Well, to be honest, my impression has been that if Slumdog had vanished without a trace, a lot more people would actually have rather liked the movie.

    First up, the soundtrack was actually rather good I thought – except for Jai-Ho; the truly ridiculous song in the end. There is a really interesting remix of MIA’s Paper-planes with a heavy bass riff; and O-Saya sort of works in the crowd sequences. Ringa-ringa re-introduces us to the ever-breathless Illa arun; She had fallen off the radar after an initial run featuring the “scandalous” choli ke peeche, and of course, the unforgettable Tum kahain so-ye the (where did you sleep)?

    The hundred dollar bill scene – I thought it was a tongue in cheek reference to how America thinks it can solve the world’s problems by throwing money at them. So you have a kid who has been kicked in the face; and the woman is almost saying “Oh, I’m sorry our driver beat you up- here’s some money, I hope you’re okay now.” So the American woman isn’t smug as much as she is a naive, slightly pathetic figure.

    I personally found the movie exhausting because of the actors – they were uniformly terrible; except for the truly little kids. The rest were just not convincing – including Frieda Pinto – who was insipid at best. Even the normally reliable Irrfan Khan appeared affected by the incompetence of those around him. And of course, the dialogues were hideous -which made all interactions and relationships in the film appear thoroughly hollow.

    While i havent read the book; I thought the film offers the interesting perspective of the street as a “school” for autodidacts. So rather than putting it on sheer “luck” or the even less interesting “Destiny” (i agree that the ‘it was written’ dialogue was vomit-worthy) – it is more interesting to read it as a engagement with the idea of pedagogy and literacy.

    Through the course of my work, i have often been surprised by stuff people know; and somehow of the most interesting conversations are around “how do you know that?” or the more interrogative, “who told you?”.

  2. aisha permalink
    January 29, 2009 11:31 AM

    Hi Nivi, how pleasant to run in to your blog, and your take on the movie that has everyone out here all ga-ga.
    I haven’t read the novel, but I must admit that when I first saw the movie, I enjoyed it, even felt slightly exhilirated by it. And slightly superior to the others in the movie theater. I “really knew” what it was like in Bombay, not them, and they didn’t have a right to laugh at certain points.
    But I couldn’t help wondering about the hype. Yeah, it’s a “feel-good” movie in a weird sort of way, given the abuses depicted, but in no different manner than a typical bollywood movie.
    you’re right, it’s a great PR operation, and with Danny Boyle’s name, they can’t go wrong.
    p.s. i saw the depiction of thw American woman as less good then an effort to mock American materialism, “money can fix everything” etc.

  3. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    January 29, 2009 11:59 AM

    Hi Aisha, welcome to kafila!
    That’s an interesting take on the American woman, but the overall message of the film in one sense IS that “money can fix everything” – Jamal has to win the million rupees to prove his worth, no? In the book on the other hand, RMT’s going on the programme too has a back story, and is less about his wanting to win money than about…well, read it!
    But again, I dont care that the novel has been transformed, I’m just thinking about the particular manner in which it has been transformed, and the reason for this particular simplified rendition. And why it has worked so well for its intended audience, as witnessed by the hype.
    By the way, Dev Patel was on Leno a couple of days ago – what a PR blitz!

  4. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    January 29, 2009 3:53 PM

    Aman, your comment popped up just now, in an odd way, above Aisha’s. I notice you too think the American woman was being mocked – perhaps. It’s just that in the overall mood of the film, which is uniformly and relentlessly literal, it’s difficult to read irony into this one episode alone. Can you think of an ironical representation of any other situation or character anywhere else in the film?
    Swarup’s novel actually does function with your idea of the street as a school for autodidacts – the “luck” lies in RMT having had the precise experiences to know the answers to exactly the questions that he is asked. The question for me, again and again, is why did Boyle have to simplify a cracking good plot the way he did? It would have worked perfectly as a film the way it was written.
    What was at stake in reducing it to this slim, straight, story line?

  5. aisha permalink
    January 30, 2009 12:02 PM

    Hi Nivi!
    Actually, I didn’t see his appearing on the game show as an attempt to win money, but a way to get some sort of message out to Latika (he says to her, i think “i knew you would watch”). In fact I was extremely annoyed by the scene when Salim “martyrs” himself — it was so american in sensibility… a bathtub full of money, guns blazing. It had seemed to me that Salim’s entry into gangster life was more about respect and authority, not material benefits. And I didn’t understand why he had to die. Other than the typical, sidekick always dies story-lines.

    Aman, I agree with the awful acting. I thought the kids were good, but Patel and Pinto, and the guy who played Javed were pretty bad.

    I think my favorite scenes were the ones in Agra where they quickly scope out the scene and learn to milk the system. Would that qualify as ironical, Nivi? The street children acting as mediators for rich foreign tourists? And the scenes in the call center… the disconnect between the Indian youth and the markets they served. It was interesting that he chose to show a center serving Scottish consumers.

    I’ll have to read the book to see what was omitted, but it seems everything was streamlined for Western consumption.

  6. Uttara permalink
    January 30, 2009 4:22 PM

    I thought the American woman had been set up, by either Salim or Jamal, or both, and that she was being mocked. Jamal perhaps, does not forsee being beaten, but knows the car will be stripped. The Americans’ tendency to sue (the bit about insurance) may also have been mocked, in addition to buying “poverty tourism” and America solving the world’s problems. Despite all this, didn’t like the scene.

    The film left me feeling curiously bereft and empty, as if it had been shot only in one colour. I did like the little boys and the girl and Dev Patel’s ears! Don’t disown Rahman just yet!

  7. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    January 30, 2009 5:55 PM

    Okay okay, maybe I was so irritated by the film by then that I read the American woman scene too literally…(The problem is that a lot in the life of a slum kid CAN be fixed with money, so it comes across as generosity inspired by guilt, which is not at all a bad thing. And of course, she does come across as pathetic, but still, the only kind adult in the film. The irony in the “everything can be fixed with money” perspective is evident only to those whose major problems are not money-related.)
    But anyway, I concede this point – perhaps Boyle was being ironic there.

  8. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    January 30, 2009 6:08 PM

    Here’s a smart take on the American woman scene:
    “If I were to write a summation of the movie, I could have hardly summed it better than that scene. Show the ‘real’ India to the west, and walk away with international currency!”

  9. February 2, 2009 4:00 PM

    You’ve hit the nail on the spot.

    >Look, don’t get me wrong, the film is fine, and I am not one of those who is worried about India being “depicted in poor light” – that’s our light, and we’d better deal with it. But what the hell is going on with all the hype? All the nominations everywhere? What am I missing?

    I mean this is a movie that has pushed Dark Knight out of Oscar’s race — well not single-handedly, of course. And although Dark Knight is probably over-hyped too (best film *ever* made, and all that), it definitely has a lot more meat than SDM — which has more spice than meat. And probably Trainspotting’s legacy ruined SDM for me.

    Came here due to WordPress admin which showed a lot of (relatively speaking of course) hits coming to my garib blog from here. It was more of a smart-alec take, but I’d live with just smart :). This is an impressive site! I wonder how it took me so long to reach here.

    regards,
    asuph

  10. Jayalakshmi permalink
    February 2, 2009 6:00 PM

    This is too good. Agree with you on all the points.

    Looks like a PR truimph, but we don’t mind. Something better than nothing! ;-)

  11. fud permalink
    February 3, 2009 5:46 AM

    i find this kinda surprising, not least because the author, unlike herself and despite her claim to the contrary, sounds like she is dissed with the misrepresentation of India. and bafflingly parochial.

    a) I think the film was superawesome. the novel worked brilliantly as a romeo and juliet story. i dont know if u missed it but jamal was on the show so that latika could see him there, not really for the money.

    b) no i dont think they were caricaturing India. u seem to imply a dualism: western perspective and our perspective. this is problematic, not least because we are famously ignorant about (or in denial of) our problems.

    anyway, i saw no caricatures. street children were not objects of pity. a blind beggar knew whats on a benjamin (nuance?). there were no elephants and cows. there were no real good guys and bad guys, characters had meaning and depth.

    c) a mainstream film depicting slum life in Mumbai is better than no film about slum life in Mumbai, no. Think how many bollywood fares have slums as their settings (without caricaturing the slum).

    d) cheap shot on Rahman. Not Cool.

  12. janaki permalink
    February 4, 2009 10:29 PM

    in its approach to money i found the film completely bollywood, rather old bollywood, because a number of new films have celebrated the single minded aim of acquring money. and i am not putting lucky oye in this category. SDM kept its hero ‘pure’, jamal doesnt care about the 100 dollar bill, he thought the millionaire show was trash, and the only reason he got to the show was for latika (that itself is unconvincing, but we bought it because we are so used to this argument). thats the reason he gets back on the show, irfan is convinced about the irrelevance of money for him. salim’s track is also so familiar, the friend/brother who went astray only to realise his mistake and make amends by the supreme sacrifice of his life.

    i did like the way the film was shot, especially the dharavi scenes. what irritated me was the metamorphosis of jamal as the squeaky clean well dressed chap, the moment he becomes a teenager and starts speaking in english. it was like boyle wanted the film to be both realistic and palatable and decided to divide the film into two sections rather than attempting any other creative balance.

  13. Shashwati permalink
    February 9, 2009 7:04 PM

    Nivedita,

    I am a little puzzled by your reading.

    I thought the American woman with the hundred dollar bill was a caricature of well meaning politically correct Americans.

    Also I remember finding the novel rather condescending and oddly homophobic, which wasn’t there in the film.

    The film itself is an homage to so many Bolllywood and Hollywood films, e.g Salim dying in the bathtub from Scarface etc. some of this blending is quite interesting from a cinema history point of view.

    If anything the film is quite Dickensian, and all that karma stuff can be read as Victorian melodrama and coincidence, its not so much Orientalism as everyone suspects. And for God’s sakes its a small independent film we are talking about here, by a Scottish director who makes odd films like Trainspotting, and not Ron Howard making Titanic with a matching budget.

    The thing that no one is talking about is that much success has quite a lot to do with the moment of absolute panic in the US and UK regarding the economy. Films are nominated and awarded by all the members in the Academy (at least in the US), which is usually the rank and file who are not the powerful star category, these are the people who threaten to strike and cripple the media industry if union contracts don’t get worked out properly. Awards are a much more democratic process than the Filmfare awards or the various sammans that we have in India.

    I am a little amused and also disheartened by the “authenticity police” and their smell tests, who are not as thoughtful as you are. It is parochial and ultimately unworthy. And not very supportive if innovation and creativity are to thrive.

  14. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    February 10, 2009 10:38 AM

    We can agree to disagree…there are always of course, multiple readings, and mine is one of them. It does seem though, that my sort of readingis completely marginal right now, because a critical reading that is not about national pride or authenticity – I have not come across many such.
    (For instance, Priyadarshan has said that Slumdog is cheap, trashy and sentimental, and that Mani Ratnam would have done a better job, which I agree with. But Priyadarshan is also angry that Mumbai has been shown as all slums etc., which is not a problem for me. However, something else he said is interesting – in a sudden recourse to realism, he asked how credible is it that a policeman can torture a TV personality and nobody would intervene; and in fact, in the book, as I mentioned, the intervention of a young lawyer is crucial to the plot.)
    About the homophobia – there is that one incident around the iconic filmstar incognito in a movie theatre, which I didn’t see as homophobic, just as the various incidents of forced heterosexual sex in the book were not heterophobic! Indeed, I could argue that leaving out that incident is a manifestation of homophobia – discomfort with depicting/mentioning/acknowledging gay sexual encolunters.
    And the awards process in Hollywood. Far-fetched to argue that the working class of Hollywood (the Hollywood Slumdogs) care so much about the film that they have united in a formation so threatening that the biggies are terrorized into nominations and awards. You would need to do much more work to make a convincing argument that the awards process in Holllywood is “democratic”.
    The Filmfare process, by the way, is based largely on viewer votes, as far as I know.

  15. Shashwati permalink
    February 10, 2009 1:21 PM

    I sort of remember on reading the book that all the homosexual encounters (wasn’t there a pedophile priest, and some other ugly fellow molesting kids?) were predatory, as were most of the hetero kind too, but not in this repulsive way that was striking in the book. but it was ultimately heteronormative romantic love that won the day. Its been a while since I read the book. We probably remember the book differently.

    Actually the way the awards work is everybody has to vote on them, and then this mysterious accountant counts the votes, the biggies don’t actually get to decide. But like everything else the biggies can wage a fierce campaign to sway opinion. Its interesting a film with no big stars, partly made by the independent division of a defunct department, that got picked up by chance has done well. One might also speculate if all the flurry of criticism isn’t also being encouraged by rival studios. In these depressed times an Oscar probably means a lot. I say this because there is a lot negative press in the trades and LA Times etc. which is unprecedented, they are normally indifferent to “foreign films.” So one wonders what is changing…is it a blip or a real shift?

    And yes, your reading seems very marginal to the more common critique about the film which accuses it of being “unrealistic” and showing poverty. It really seems to get the middle class Indian goat- “enough with the slums already,” which is quite amusing, and a whole other discussion. It does seem a little silly to compare two filmmakers, of course Ratnam would make a different film, what sort of an argument is that?

  16. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    February 10, 2009 3:39 PM

    Why is it “silly” to compare two film-makers – you mean ever? That makes no sense – we always compare writers, film-makers, actors… and arrive at quite fruiful insights, often.
    The Mani Ratnam comparison in addition, had to do with comparing styles. The Hindi film industry, and Ratnam himself, has done any amount of “films like this” which dont have a chance at a peep at the Oscars, while an ordinary (to us) film made in an idiom familiar to Hollywood gets seriously hyped up. Rahman too had said somewhere that he had composed a different kind of music for this film, specifically targeting western musical tastes, and that he didn’t expect his Indian audiences to like it much.
    I’ll reserve further comments on the homophobia till I re-read the book! Quite possible that it was homophobic, but I wouldn’t say Slumdog is NOT homophobic just because it left out those encounters along with many other story lines.

  17. Shashwati permalink
    February 10, 2009 6:23 PM

    Ofcourse its not silly to compare two filmmakers ever. But Boyle directed the film, Ratnam didn’t, Ratnam has a different style so of course if he made the film it would be different, I don’t know if it would be better or worse. Priyadarshan’s (?) argument is contradictory, if Ratnam is better as the hypothetical maker of SM, because his style is better and non-Hollywood, how can he have made “films like this”?

    Its absolutely fine to not like the aesthetic of the film (hell, I’m not planning to watch it 30 times like I’ve watched some films), people hopefully have coherent and rational things to say about the aesthetic underpinnings of SM, who can argue with that?

    its the ‘burden of authenticity’ which is what I find troubling, and the idea that something is bad because it has a story set in Dharavi. And I know you are not saying that, but the general trend of the discourse is going in that direction, and I find it limiting.

    Regd. things left out by SM, the writer just streamlined the plot and ignored a lot of the stuff that didn’t go with it, who knows what the screenwriter was thinking, but gossip has it that Boyle didn’t want to do the film based on the book and agreed once he knew who the screenwriter was (same guy did Trainspotting) I liked the adaptation better than the book, I also remember feeling irritated that the main character’s girlfriend who is a prostitute and is pimped by her brother was presented as something that is naturalized because she comes from a community where its “traditional” for brothers to pimp their sisters. This happens in the Kabutriya community, not because its some tradition, but because they are what was formerly called a “Criminal Tribe” this “tradition” is all pretty recent in their history. But you wouldn’t get a sense of it from the book. There were a bunch of other assumptions like that which were really annoying, which I can’t quite remember. More power to you for going back to the book! I am rather annoyed I remember so much of it as it is.

  18. Aarti permalink*
    February 14, 2009 12:05 AM

    I thought the film didn’t work cinematically, and I was especially disappointed given that it was by Danny Boyle. It was the most boring narrative structure ever: question-flashback-explain flashback to cop-question-flashback-explain flashback to cop- and on and on and on. The acting was terrible, those kids who play the teenage Jamal and Salim are idiotic beyond belief and I frankly don’t know what happened to Irfan.

    More interesting for me is this question of what this film captures that is leading to this mad euphoria in the west. Because no its not about elephants or snake charmers, but its about this new landscape of “India’s so freaky man” which might explain why Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger, a disaster of a book if there ever was one, won the booker wherein there is this enchanted landscape of commodity capitalism coloured with a sort of savagery and violence which gives it muscle and robustness. The panicking bourgeoise caste their eyes eastwards for signs of vitality and life, like a new frontier from which some salvation might arrive.

  19. nosheen permalink
    February 20, 2009 10:51 AM

    what a RELIEF to read your review, nivi! and hello, after, i think, five years!

    it’s been disturbing to see the disproportionate acclaim the movie has received, and interesting to wonder how and why it has appealed to so many different audiences — not just the amreecis around me, but also the indians and pakistanis at home and here. knowing about how awards are given is one thing, but the film has much wider appeal which the awards reflect, i think.

    i havent read the book, so it was most interesting to see what narrative twists and silences were made for the movie. they had to be made, no, to create the narrative of slum darkness conquered only by love — a one-sided one at that because latika seemed pretty unmoved by jamal.

    i actually liked the plot, it was refreshing in the landscape of mainstream movies. i thought the childhood scenes were quite brilliant, gritty and moving (later of course, i found out that the actors were “real” and directed by an indian director, not boyle) but i was very disappointed in the way the movie eventually became this “it’s all written” tale. subtly, it seemed to be saying that poverty is a result of fate, and getting out of it is also a matter of chance. luck is important, but there was NO element of struggle whatsoever on jamal’s part — and the daily individual and collective struggles of slum-dwellers were also absent. slum realities were soon forgotten to create a far-fetched reality of jamal acquiring english in a particular accent, and finding money and love. both. that’s important. after disturbing the audience with poverty, one has to redeem the movie and give a happy, satisfying end ( i agree with the comment about how the movie seemed to be divided in two — the narrative changed, the language changed, and interestingly, so did the director). some friends also described the movie as “fun” and “funny.” so it can be a dark tale about the real india, but with enough fantasy to make it palatable, and not make you question your own positionality (and vision of the world) too much. very good formula, and it worked. dark knight was perhaps too complex, in comparison.

    and yes, the american with the $100 bill is so U.S.-as-savior, and follows a long history of white- knight-helping-dark-native allusions in literature and film. i would be ok with the scene, if the director also showed desis helping jamal. but oh no, we don’t have no mercy, we are just nasty and selfish.

    finally, the larger india — the elite, the companies, the government, the progressives, the humans like any other — are entirely missing. india = poor and brutish slums. and someone said this isn’t orientalist?? it wsas effectively and dramatically so — in this it was not crude — and at a time when there is renewed interest in all things indian.

    aman, i liked the soundtrack too!

    aarti, your analysis ( “The panicking bourgeoise caste their eyes eastwards for signs of vitality and life, like a new frontier from which some salvation might arrive”) resonates. but simultaneously though, isn’t there an opposite impluse? does salvation arrive from there, or does the west discover more frontiers to salvage for itself? the eastward nostalgic glance has to maintain/reproduce the imperialist edge…

  20. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    February 20, 2009 2:49 PM

    Hi Nosheen!
    A couple of updates on the novel. One, that the new edition is titled “Slumdog Millionaire. Formerly Q & A”. The author is quite pleased with what the film has done for his novel, and has none of the complaints I have!
    (Was it Satyajit Ray who said that once a novel has been handed over to be filmed, it’s like getting a daughter married – they have their own lives to lead…)
    Another bit of trivia – Q & A was translated into Gujarati long ago with the title of “Jackpot”.

  21. Shashwati permalink
    February 22, 2009 9:00 AM

    Everyone is probably sick of this already! but I did want to point everyone to David Bordwell’s reading of the film’s interesting use of cinematic cliches:

    http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/?p=3592

    And an anthropologist and filmmakers view (disclosure: written by the spouse):

    http://savageminds.org/2009/02/21/washing-dirty-linen/

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