India is so exciting: British scriptwriter of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

October 18th, 2008 - 10:22 am ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Oct 18 (IANS) British writer Simon Beaufoy, who spent considerable time here to pen the script of “Slumdog Millionaire”, says the experience has changed his life.”It was incredibly rewarding for me. I’ve been writing for 12 years. I’ve been brought up on a British tradition of screenwriting. In India, I found that to be a completely inappropriate way of writing. Now after writing ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, I can’t go back to writing the way I used to,” Beaufoy told IANS.

Set in Mumbai, the film based on Indian bureaucrat-author Vikas Swaroop’s novel “Q & A” revolves around a slum kid who wins a jackpot on television quiz show “Kaun Banega Crorepati”. The movie, directed by Danny Boyle, has wowed audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Beaufoy says he’d love to return to Mumbai for screenwriting.

“I’d love to do ‘Slumdog Billionaire and Trillionaire’. India is such an exciting place. I had first visited when I was 18. Now it’s become such a different place. The British legacy has been erased and replaced by this extraordinary desire to be the No.1 country in the world. You cannot but respond to India’s drive and energy. Those are the qualities that people in Toronto at the festival noticed in our film.”

Though Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” is a screen adaptation of Swaroop’s novel “Q & A”, Beaufoy says he had completely rewritten the original story.

“I took the initial concept of a slum kid who wins all the money and gets arrested from the novel. But the book is like a series of independent short stories. That didn’t work for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. So I went to Mumbai to look for new experience and to invent a backbone for the film. I turned the film into a love story. So I invented Latika, Frieda Pinto’s character, as the spine of the story. Latika doesn’t even exist in the book,” Beaufoy said.

Beaufoy, whose earlier credits include “Full Monty”, says he had to completely re-acclimatise himself to write this Mumbai-based film.

“We were very, very careful not to portray Mumbai’s people as victims. When I went around the streets of Mumbai researching stories and characters to put into the film, the local people would often come forward to help us out on location to beat the heat with glasses of water, tea and kind words. They saw me as this wildly-sweating white man running around frantically on the streets and felt rather sorry for me.”

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