All entries for Thursday 02 April 2009

April 02, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire was a book

Every time someone mentions 'Slumdog Millionaire', and stresses how wondeful a film it is, I can't help feeling slightly smug. Because years before the film came out, I read the book!

'Slumdog millionaire' is based on a 2005 novel called 'Q&A', by Vikas Swarup. And it doesn't surprise me that the film became such a success, because the book is absolutely magnificent! I bought it on a whim in an airport somewhere, and it then proceeded to become one of my favourite books. I won't explain the plot, bacuse chances are you've already seen the film, and therefore know the story. If you haven't, all I will say is that it's an original plot, a fascinating story that depicts the different facets of modern India in a captivating way, and a twisted but perfect ending. It's up to you if you want to see the film or read the novel, but by all means, do either.

I haven't seen the film myself, so I can't say if they've stayed faithful to the book in making 'Slumdog Millionaire' - but given its immense success, I'd say they have. I don't really have anything else to say in this post, so I'll end it with an extract from 'Q & A', a part that supposedly has been left out in the film. In the book, the protagonist is not called "Jamal Malik", but something different. He's adopted by a catholic priest, Father Timothy, who names him Joseph Michael Thomas. One day Father Timothy is visited by two men:

'We are from the All Faith Committee,' the fat man said. 'I am Mr Jagdish Sharma. This is Mr Inayat Hidayatullah. Our this board member, Mr Harvinder Singh, representing the Sikh faith, was also to come, but he is unfortunately held up at the Gurudwara. We will come straight to the point. We are told, Father, that you have given shelter to this little orphan boy. [...] What name have you given this boy?'

'Joseph Michael Thomas.'

'Isn't that a Christian name?'

'Yes, but-'

'How do you know he was born to Christian parents?'

'Well, I don't'

'Then why have you given him a Christian name?'

'Well I had to call him something. What's wrong with Jospeh Michael Thomas?'

'Everything. Don't you know how strong the movement is against conversion in these parts? Several churches have been set fire to by irate mobs, who were led to believe that mass conversion to Christianity was taking place.'

[...]

'What do you suggest I do?'

'Change the boy's name.'

'To what?'

[...]

Mr Sharma and Mr Hidayatullah debated the respective merits of Ram and Mohammad for the next thirty minutes. Finally, Father Timothy gave up. 'Look, if it takes a name change to get the mob off my back, I will do it. How about if I accept both your suggestions and change the boy's name to Ram Mohammad Thomas? That should satisfy everyone.'

Luckily for me that Mr Singh did not come that day.


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