Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Frequently Asked Questions
Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, India, is just one question away from winning the grand prize on India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Suddenly, he is accused of cheating on the grounds that no street kid could possibly know the answers to such impossible questions. In an attempt to prove his innocence, Jamal relates his life story, concentrating on the experiences that describe how he came to know the answers to each of the quiz questions.
Slumdog Millionaire is based on the bestselling novel Q and A by Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup. It was adapted for the movie by British screenwriter Simon Beaufoy. However, it eliminates most of the stories in the book, changes character names, and some story elements. The love story, which is prominently featured in the film, was written by Beaufoy. Slumdog Millionaire won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.
The film was made under the condition that it was to be in English. However, when director Danny Boyle cast the roles of the younger children, he discovered that their English was not fluent enough. He called Warner Independent and convinced them to let him film their scenes in Hindi (despite the fact that the regional language of Mumbai is Marathi). These Hindi/Marathi language scenes are approximately 30% of the final film, but Boyle added color and movement to the subtitles to make them more visually appealing. The rest of the film is in English.
No. Bollywood films are made through various Indian film studios located in the city of Mumbai. This film originated in the UK, and its funding comes primarily from the UK. The producers, director, and writer are not Indian. The co-director is an Indian who has not worked in Bollywood. Two of the main cast members and most of the crew are Indians who have worked in Bollywood. Otherwise, the only connections that this film shares with Bollywood is the city of Mumbai and a group dance in a train station during the final scene that echoes traditional Bollywood films.
In the opening scene of the movie, a title card reads: Jamal Malik is one question away from winning 20 Million Rupees. How did he do it? Four answer choices are presented: (A) He cheated, (B) He's lucky, (C) He's a genius, and (D) It is written. In that context, "it is written" is similar in meaning to "it is fated" or "it is destiny".
Chai is simply the Hindi word for tea. A chai wallah is a person who provides tea, either by selling or bringing it. This is Jamal's position in the call center where he works when he appears on the game show. If you watch closely in the scene where the Jamal and Malik are young kids and are being chased through the slums of Juhu, the word "chai wallah" appears a few times.
(1) For 1,000 rupees: Who was the star in the 1973 hit film "Zanjeer"? (A) Amitabh Bachchan (the rest of the answer choices are not revealed).
(2) For 4,000 rupees: A picture of three lions is seen in the national emblem of India. What is written underneath it? (A) Truth alone triumphs, (B) Lies alone triumph, (C) Fashion alone triumphs, or (D) Money alone triumphs.
(3) For 16,000 rupees: In depictions of God Rama, he is famously holding what in his right hand? (A) A flower, (B) A sword, (C) A child, or (D) A bow-and-arrow.
(4) For 250,000 rupees: The song "Darshan Do Ghanshyam" was written by which famous Indian poet? (A) Surdas, (B) Tulsidas, (C) Mira Bai, or (D) Kabir.
(5) For 1,000,000 rupees: On the American $100 bill, there is a portrait of which American statesman? (A) George Washington, (B) Franklin Roosevelt, (C) Benjamin Franklin, or (D) Abraham Lincoln.
(6) For 2,500,000 rupees: Who invented the revolver? (A) Samuel Colt, (B) Bruce Browning, (C) Dan Wesson, or (D) James Revolver.
(7) For 5,000,000 rupees: Cambridge Circus is in which U.K. city? (A) Oxford, (B) Leeds, (C) Cambridge, or (D) London.
(8) For 10,000,000 rupees: Which cricketer has scored the most first-class centuries in history? (A) Sachin Tendulkar, (B) Ricky Ponting, (C) Michael Slater, or (D) Jack Hobbs.
(9) For 20,000,000 rupees: In Alexander Dumas' book The Three Musketeers, two of the musketeers are called Athos and Porthos. What is the name of the third Musketeer? (A) Aramis, (B) Cardinal Richelieu, (C) D'Artagnan, or (D) Planchet.
Answers: (1) A; (2) A; (3) D; (4) A; (5) C; (6) A; (7) D; (8) D; (9) A.
They were Hindu rioters, and she was a Muslim. At that time, the early to mid-1990s, riots and fighting between Hindus and Muslims was rampant in the so-called Bombay Riots. In all, approximately 900 people were killed.
Jamal got the $100 bill from the American tourists who had their car stripped a few scenes earlier.
The movie doesn't show how or when Jamal called and got accepted to be on the show. However, it does imply in one scene that he knew the precise moment to call—when show host Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor) says "if"—because that's when they open the phone lines. He knows this because one of the call center operators who worked on the phone system told him.
Allowed back on the show to play the final round of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Jamal is faced with a question he cannot answer. He asks to use his Phone-a-Friend lifeline in order to call Salim (Madhur Mittal), but Salim doesn't answer. Latika (Freida Pinto), having meanwhile been helped by Salim to escape from Javed's (Mahesh Manjrekar) "safehouse" and given his cellphone, races back to her car to answer the call. She doesn't know the answer either, but Jamal is more interested in knowing how she is doing and where she is before the call is cut off. Forced to make a guess, Jamal picks "Aramis" as his final answer. Lo and behold, he is correct and wins the 20 million rupees. At the same time that Jamal is winning, Salim fills a bathtub with money and sits in it, waiting for the death he knows will happen when Javed discovers what he has done. When Javed hears Latika on the show and realizes that Salim has helped her escape, he and his men break down the bathroom door. Salim shoots Javed and is himself gunned down. In the final scene, Jamal meets Latika in a train station where they share a kiss. "This is our destiny," Jamal whispers.
The grand prize of 20 million rupees on India's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is worth approximately 410,000 USD; 280,000 GBP; 294,000 EUR; 580,000 AUD; or 500,000 CAD. In the novel, the prize was significantly larger—one billion rupees, about 21 million USD.
Song and dance sequences are very common in Bollywood movies to portray feelings of love, happiness, or other emotions. Since the film was made in India, the scene was likely added as a tribute to Bollywood. It could have also been added because the youngest Jamal tells Latika that one day they'll be together and they will sing and dance, and so it ended the film on a joyous note.
Jai Ho is a phrase that literally means Victory (Jai) Be (Ho). If you say Ram ji Ki Jai Ho, it means "Victory be to Lord Rama". Slumdog kids might say ki jai ho, meaning "Victory be to slumdog kids." Jai Ho is also a means of salutation in some parts of India, just like Namaste or Good Morning.
The soundtrack, which is composed by A.R. Rahman with contributions by M.I.A., was released exclusively on iTunes in November 2008. A CD release came out in December.
The domestic trailer features three songs: "Latika's Theme," from A.R. Rahman's soundtrack with vocals from Suzanne, "Great DJ" by Ting Tings, and "Hoppípolla" by Sigur Rós, which plays for the majority of the trailer until its end. The international trailer contains the song "The Sun Always Shines on the TV" by A-Ha.
Director Danny Boyle originally wanted to cast someone who was born and raised in India. However, he could not find the right boy to play the older Jamal. He claimed that there was a tendency among boys to get very muscular, and they didn't seem like underdogs. Boyle's daughter told him about Patel, who had a role on the British TV show Skins. When Boyle met him, he had found his Jamal.
In the original novel, Q and A, the show is a fictional one called "Who Will Win a Billion", with a similar format. The script changes the show back to the well-known and globally franchised version. When Beaufoy was commissioned to write the film by Film4, the script was sent out to investors including Celador Productions, which had the intellectual rights to the TV show. After producer Paul Smith sold his stake in the show, he made a condition that he could retain the right to reuse the properties of the show. He signed on for the film and allowed the filmmakers to duplicate the show.
The award is for a foreign language film. Since this film is a UK production primarily in the English language, that category was not appropriate.
In the book, the first-person narrator and quiz show contestant is named Ram Mohammad Thomas. He was abandoned at birth in the clothing bin of a Catholic church in Delhi, and raised for eight years by a benevolent English priest named Father Timothy. His surname comes from a family that adopted him for three days before giving him back to the church. Local religious leaders suggested his first and middle names, on the theory that his birth parents might be either Hindu or Muslim. Father Timothy and the Catholic Church do not appear in the movie, nor does Delhi.
When Father Timothy is murdered by another priest, Ram is sent to a juvenile home, where, as the only boy who speaks English, he becomes the leader of the 150 residents.After one year, a new resident Salim Ilyasi, age seven, arrives as an orphan when a Hindu mob murders his Muslim family. They become best friends.
In the movie, Salim Malik is Jamal's older brother, and both boys are orphaned by the Hindu mob, after which they live as rag children in the Mumbai city dump, rather than in a juvenile home in Delhi. Salim in the movie ultimately plays a sinister and tragic role; Salim in the book leads a charmed life and becomes a movie star.
In the movie and in the book, both boys are taken to a residential music school near Mumbai, where all the children seem to be crippled. They are taught songs of the blind poet Surdas and learn they will likely be blinded when they finish learning the songs, in order to work as blind, singing beggars. The older boy leads an escape, Salim in the movie, Ram in the book.
There is more on-screen violence in the movie than in the book. In the most graphically violent scene of the movie, a young beggar boy is drugged and blinded with acid while unconscious. There is no such scene in the book, although its possibility is suggested.
For three years, from ages eleven through thirteen, Ram works as a daytime houseboy for a retired movie actress in her forties named Neelima Kumari. Her boyfriend batters her, leaving cigarette burns on her breasts, and drives her to suicide, ending Ram's employment.
While working for the actress, Ram lives on the second floor of a Mumbai chawl, sharing a room with Salim. An older girl, Gudiya, whose face Ram never sees, lives next door in the chawl with her drunken father, Shantaram. They can hear through the apartment walls. Shantaram physically and sexually abuses his daughter until Ram pushes him off the balcony to his death, he thinks.
Ram then flees back to Delhi, leaving Salim behind, and finds employment as a houseboy for an Australian diplomat and later as a tour guide at the Taj Mahal in Agra, where he falls in love with a prostitute named Nita who is battered by a customer who leaves cigarette burns on her breasts, similar to Neelima's injuries. The abuser of both women is the same man.
In the movie, Jamal's love interest is Latika, a childhood friend from the slums who is forced into prostitution in Mumbai.
After a separation of five years, Ram bumps into Salim on a Mumbai street. Salim tells what happened during his absence. He encountered Babu Pillai, alias Maman, who had taken them from Delhi to his music school for crippled beggars in Mumbai. They recognized each other, Maman gave chase, and Salim escaped again, onto a bus which was later stopped by a Hindu mob intent on killing all the Muslims on the bus. Salim was saved by a man who brandished a handgun, without firing it, and who then hired Salim as his houseboy. The man with the gun turned out to be a contract killer. By opening his mail and tampering with one of his assignments, Salim managed to save the life of a movie producer and have Maman killed instead. The grateful producer paid for Salim's acting lessons, and got him started in the movie business.
In the movie, Salim, who is Jamal's older brother, not his younger friend, is the one with the gun. Salim shoots Maman when the two of them encounter him together. Salim then goes to work for Latika's pimp and helps to hold her captive until he has a change of heart and lets her escape with his car and cell phone. Salim then shoots the pimp and is killed by his henchmen.
As a bartender in Mumbai, Ram steals the revolver of a dead patron and becomes armed for the first time.
When Ram becomes a game show contestant, it is pure happenstance that most of the questions have answers in his life experiences. When he answers question #12 and wins the billion-rupee grand prize, he is told that question didn't count and the real question #12 will come after the next commercial break.
During the break, both Ram and the host, Prem Kumar, are in the bathroom alone together. Ram pulls out the gun he took from the dead bar patron and reveals that his motive for going on the quiz show was to get close enough to Prem to kill him for abusing the two women in his life: the actress Neelima Kumari, and the Agra prostitute Nita. He loses his nerve, and rather than pull the trigger he offers to spare Prem's life if he tells the answer to the new question #12, which he does.
After winning the grand prize, again, Ram is arrested by police who try to torture him into signing a confession of cheating. This scene is where the book begins. He is rescued from torture by a woman lawyer who calls herself Smita, and who listens to his explanations, given in the sequence of the relevant question number. She then reveals herself to be Gudiya, from the chawl, whose father had suffered only a broken leg when Ram pushed him from the balcony, and who had stopped raping Gudiya after his fall.
Gudiya gets him his prize money, Ram marries Nita, Salim becomes a movie star, and the crippled children are liberated from their imprisonment.
In the movie, Jamal never carries a gun and never shoots or threatens anybody. Salim does the shooting. There is no lawyer, and no Gudiya. Jamal's interrogation is conducted by the police, before, not after, the last question. The police release him to complete the quiz show. The host, Prem Kumar, has no history with Jamal or his women. Jamal's motive for going on the show is to attract the attention of Latika, with whom he has lost contact (despite her being in the custody of his brother Salim). As in the book, he gets the money and the girl.
In the book, the quiz show is called Who Will Win a Billion?, offering a top prize of one billion rupees. In the original real-life quiz show, Kaun Banega Crorepati, the top prize was one crore rupee, or ten million rupees. In the movie, and in the up-dated quiz show, the top prize is two crore rupees, or twenty million rupees.