Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
How “Slumdog Millionaire” got its name
If you are wondering why “Slumdog” and why not “Slumboy”, there’s a story behind how Danny Boyle’s Golden Globe-winning film got its unusual name.
Turns out screenwriter Simon Beaufoy was wandering around the slums of Mumbai researching the film, when he saw cats and dogs apparently asleep in the alleys.
But they weren’t asleep.
Beaufoy, speaking at a news conference in New Delhi, said he was intrigued to notice their eyes — moving, discerning, watching.
“I thought it was a fantastic metaphor – of somebody who’s apparently not worth anything, is actually looking, eyeing everything and knowing everything — just like the boy in the gameshow knows everything.”
“Slumdog Millionaire” is the rags-to-riches story of a boy from a Mumbai slum competing on the Indian version of the television gameshow “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”.
“I just made up the word really. There was absolutely no sense I wanted to insult anybody,” Beaufoy said. “I just liked the idea.”
The answer didn’t satisfy a journalist, who said it felt like Boyle’s film was referring to Indians as canines.
But co-director Loveleen Tandan came to the rescue, noting that the protagonist is referred to as ‘slumdog’ in the film.
“It’s actually the English translation of the way we have spoken and our movies have said that over the years referring to a man from the streets.”
In “Slumdog Millionaire”, a police inspector (played by Irrfan Khan) calls protagonist Jamal a ‘slumdog’.
Is “Slumdog Millionaire” a suitable title for the film?