Slumdog Millionaire – Did The Movie Do Justice To The Book?

Usually when books are remade into movies, there is found to be a whole lot of difference. We have seen this happen with many movies in the past and this is true of the latest adaptation of the book written by Vikas Swarup, into the movie, “Slumdog Millionaire” directed by Danny Boyle. In spite of the differences, the movie was praised to the skies as one of the best movies of recent times and attracted quite a few voluptuous black ladies – the Oscars!

The book, titled “Q&A” is also a rags-to-riches story, where it talks about how the protagonist, Ram Mohammed Thomas, who is a tea stall waiter, wins the big prize on a TV game show. He is depicted in the book as a man of all religions and thus the name.

Coming to the movie; although, it is based on the theme of the book, it has its own unique story line and deviates quite a bit from what has been written.

Was the movie better than the book?

This is a difficult question to answer. But the differences between the book and movie start with the main theme itself. The slums of Mumbai in Slumdog Millionaire, are projected as places where extreme poverty and only poverty prevails – which is not what the book depicts. The defecation scene shown in the first part of the film is also nothing but Director Danny Boyle letting his imagination run wild. Nowhere in the book does anything like this exist.

In the book, the protagonist, Ram Mohammed Thomas, who is not a Muslim and who does not have a religion, lives in an orphanage in Delhi and not in Mumbai. There are many such differences, including the fact that Jamal and his heroine meet as teenagers and live in an apartment, and not in the slums. The story about how Jamal’s mother was killed in the film was not true to the book either.

This movie was nominated for ten academy awards and won eight of them, including the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay awards. This is the maximum number of academy awards won by any film of 2008.

The movie was no doubt very well made. If it is the intense action and romance that pulls you in deep, it is the bruised characters that hold you to the film from the beginning to the end. The film is a visual wonder, propelled by the hip-hopping score by A.R. Rahman. “Jay-Ho” became an instant hit the world over.

The book and movie are different enough to be considered as two different stories. But both of them are worthy of mention. Both tell us stories that will ache our hearts, make us cry and laugh at the same time.

The movie was darker in some ways than the book. The movie diverges completely in most of the places and takes the route of fiction, away from the facts as given in the book. It makes me certain that the director did this to increase the drama quotient of the movie. All the actors performed amazingly, including the kids.

The marketing effort that went into the promotion of this movie was extraordinary and extremely well-planned. Any marketing person will be able to tell that. Does this mean that the movie was created solely with the awards in mind? If that is so, Danny Boyle did an admirable job in achieving what he set out to.

Watch the movie without reading the book, and you cannot help but fall in love with it. Watch it without expecting it to be factual, you will see it is like none other.

But if you ask whether the movie did justice to the book by Vikas Swarup, it has to be a big “No.” With so many changes in the characters and complete deviation from the content of the book, the movie was in no way an exact adaptation. Justice would have been done if the movie depicted the exact content of the book.

But Slumdog Millionaire is one movie, which makes it difficult to decide which one is better: whether it is the book or the movie. Both are wonderful in their own way.

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