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Slumdog Millionaire DVD to reveal new secrets

Last updated on: March 30, 2009 13:33 IST

By any reckoning, it is one of the most shocking and debated of movie scenes in recent times, and now the Blu-ray edition of Slumdog Millionaire offers details how the toilet scene in the early part of the film was shot.

The deleted scenes included in the DVD package also has a sequence involving the slum kids, Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar), his brother Salim and Latika who becomes Jamal's obsession later in the film. Watch out for the dress she is wearing, for it has a direct bearing on the famous train platform scene where is looking at Jamal and smiling, just as the thugs are getting ready to whisk her away.

Forget the pirated DVDs of the 8-Oscar winner film and go for the real one as the DVD and Blu-ray editions that are hitting the stores across America and Canada on March 31 offer plenty of deleted scenes and insights into the making of the film.

The movie, which reached an awesome $300 million worldwide this weekend [it is still to open in a few countries including Japan], could be on the top of DVD and Blu-Ray charts for several weeks. Slumdog Millionaire,  which is still playing in about 800 theatres in America and grossed $1.1 million over the weekend, could earn even more money from DVD sales and rentals than the $140 million it has taken in the theatres in America and Canada. 

If you are still intrigued by the film, watch the DVD after reading its screenplay by Simon Beaufoy [widely available in bookshops] which also has an introduction by director Danny Boyle.

Ayush, Rubina Ali and Azhrauddin Mohammad Ismail in a scene from Slumdog MillionaireBeaufoy said in an interview with Rediff India Abroad that while he had expected the toilet scene to raise a lot of concerns, it was not meant to be offensive to anyone.

This is how he wrote the scene showing Jamal in a latrine, locked by his brother Salim who is running to see Amitabh Bachchan who has landed close to the slums for a film shoot:

Jamal: No! wait! Salim, sala! Salim!

Rattles the locked door. Pulls a torn flyer from his pocket advertising an Amitabh movie.

Jamal: Wait! Amitabh...

He looks down the toilet hole at the sewage beneath him, the landing helicopter, the disappearing crowd. A final rattle of the door. There is one way out. He jumps down the hole, sprawling headlong into a year's worth of human waste, managing to keep the flyer out the mire. He runs for the helicopter.

The toilet scene has shocked or appalled  many and amused quite a few. While some found it demeaning to the young actor involved, others see it as an imaginative comment on how crazy Indians are about movie idols. At the Toronto International Film Festival where the scene stirred quite a few people last September, several Indians were engaged in a heated argument over it soon after the screening. Some also said that the scene was utterly unbelievable.

"Can anyone, even a kid in a slum fall into s..t to get Amitabh's autograph,' said one. "It is gross, it is humiliating, it can never happen in real life."

One man chimed in: "But surely you don't know how many people committed suicide in Tamil Nadu when the actor MG Ramachandran died. In India people even marry the portraits of movie actors!"

The DVD offers insights on how the toilet sequence was shot.

The film's co-director Loveleen Tandon, who also appears in the DVD, had assured the audiences at the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival in New York that the scene was 'quite tasteful.'.

For the muck was made with chocolate and peanut butter, she said. In the DVD, Boyle repeats the statement.

An unidentified woman and Tanay Chheda in a scene from Slumdog MillionaireFor writer Beaufoy the scene is a part of the many wildly imagined things happening in the film.

"If we had set those scenes in a London story, people would have called us insane," he told Rediff India Abroad. "But in India everything is larger than life."

He echoes those thoughts in the foreword to the published screenplay.

'As I stepped into a country where the monsoon rain is a weapon, the sun is blistering, end the tea sweet enough to strip the enamel from your teeth,' he writes, 'the characteristics of the English writer -- nuance, subtext, subtlety -- all seemed suddenly inappropriate. For the first time in my career, I found myself experimenting with the grand, the operatic, the unashamedly melodramatic. The mystery that was Bollywood's singing and dancing finally made utter sense to me. In this magnificent country of extremes, why would you not sing, why would you not dance?

The Blu-ray version also includes a short film Manjha which Boyle handpicked. Made by a first-timer Rahi Anil Barve, the short augurs a good career for its maker. Boyle said in a statement he found the film to be 'extraordinary.'

'With little resources it is visually stunning and emotionally captivating,' he wrote. 'Surprising and gripping, it's everything a short film should be.'

Now just as thousands of Americans and Canadians are dancing to the video of Jai Ho [remixed by Pussycat Dolls], watching Slumdog Millionaire in the comforts of ones homes, and admiring how Boyle and Beaufoy turned a complex story  into a gripping and moving film would be quite a treat.

Arthur J Pais