Danny Boyle on Slumdog Millionaire: OTB spends an evening with the fella

January 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

Some are calling it the little film that will go all the way. But after watching maybe a little too much Celebrity Big Brother recently, that’s just bringing to mind disturbing thoughts of Verne Troyer’s bizarrely famous home porno.

Danny Boyle’s latest release, Slumdog Millionaire, is a master-class in accomplished storytelling. Our review pretty much says it all, but in its essence it’s a celebration of life, love and especially Mumbai.

OntheBox was lucky enough to get to listen to Danny Boyle as he spoke about his adoration for the city, his thoughts on the recent, tragic events there, and rubbed our hands with ‘exclusive’* glee as he let slip his plans for another India-centric film.

Up until only a few months ago, Slumdog didn’t even have a US distributor. As we all know, if it doesn’t have a helicopter explosion or a 17 minute slow-mo sex scene, then US audiences are a little wary, and apparently the American studios didn’t really see the appeal of a half-subtitled movie focusing on an Indian Chai Walla (tea runner) who may not even end up kissing the girl, let alone sleeping with her.

• But with numerous awards to its name (including 4 Golden Globes) and Oscar hype a-buzzing, let’s hope they’re currently eating their subtitled words with a generous heaping of humble pie.

Apparently ‘Millionaire’ has been stalking Boyle for a while. The first film he ever made, Shallow Grave, had a scene that saw Ewan McGregor watching (and mocking) ‘Lose A Million’, a show weirdly hosted by Chris Tarrant.

Boyle said that he knew after reading only 10 pages of the script that he would make the movie. Apparently the portrayal and energy of the city literally jumped off of the page.

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, it was discussed as to whether it would be right to release the film so soon after. But Boyle believes that there could be no greater disservice than not choosing to release the film, such is its verve for life and ability to capture what he considers to be the true Mumbai.

• Fielding the question of whether the movie masks and almost celebrates the degradation and low quality of life in the slums, Boyle said that he thinks that while he aimed to show the grim side of everyday life, he wished to focus on how there’s a great sense of life that rises up above the squalor. After spending almost a year living in India, Boyle said that this, more than anything, was the city that he knew and wanted to recreate on screen. He said: “The fact is that there was no such thing as ‘abject poverty’, due to the incredibly industrious and energetic mood from people wanting to do well for themselves”.

The film was never meant to have subtitles, but as he wanted the most realistic portrayal possible, Boyle soon found that the child actors were more comfortable and relaxed speaking their own language. The studio initially balked when he told them the film would have a third of its dialogue subtitled, but reached an amicable compromise when he decided to colour the onscreen wording, thus making them less intrusive.

Two of the three children used are actually children who were living in the slums.

Boyle and the production company set up trust funds for the child actors, with the proviso that they will be able to access a significant sum of money as long as they continue with their education.

Boyle let slip that considering his love for the city, he’s definitely had thoughts about filming another movie there. He’s really interested in the possibility of making a thriller, commenting that the crowded, almost claustrophobic nature of the slums would seem absolutely perfect for a chase scene or a dark, night-based thriller.

*Exclusive glee cannot be purchased in stores. Send cheques to OntheBox.com now to take advantage of our great offer and get seventeen sticks of zesty verve with every glee bought.

By Matt Risley

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