The title of Danny Boyle’s film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ raised many eyebrows in India but all was forgotten in its Oscar glory. Indian-American filmmaker Mira Nair, who explored the subject far more deeply in her film ‘Salaam Bombay’, feels calling Mumbai street children as dogs was in poor taste.
Mira states, “We would have never used the name ”Slumdog”. It would not occur to us, because, even in casual conversation we would not think of calling a street child as a dog. Obviously it did not come from the soil or from where these children live. It was from a different perspective.
“Some of us even joked and said that it is like ”Salaam Bombay” on speed!” she said.
The 53-year-old director also does not feel that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ represents the true image of India.
“Slumdog’s India is a different India. Mumbai attacks had happened and it sort of captured the interest of the people at that time. It was a different moment for India and that was the beauty of them coming here.
“I appreciated the beginning of the film because it had real street children playing the characters. The film definitely had lot of energy and vitality but I still believe that the poetic power of the real life of street children here is something else,” Mira said.
The director probed into the lives of the street children living in Mumbai in the 1988 film, which continues to be close to her heart. ‘Salaam Bombay’ was nominated for an Oscar but Mira said that it did not win because India did not figure in the US at that time.
Timing is everything!!
“I remember when our film was nominated for the Oscars, me and Sooni (Taraporevala) were sitting next to each other and the actors could not even pronounce the name of the film properly, let alone our names. Sooni said ‘India is still too far’. It just did not figure in anyone”s mind at that time but that has changed now.”