In the wake of its eight Oscars including Best Picture, eight interesting facts about Slumdog Millionaire:
1. Slumdog, a film with no A-list stars, was almost never released in American theaters. Time Warner decided in 2008 to shut down its indy division, which owned the rights, and the movie would have been dumped directly to DVD if Fox Searchlight hadn’t decided to step in and release the $15 million film.
2. Worried that his Hollywood backers would never consent to a film with substantial amounts of dialogue in Hindi, director Danny Boyle simply fibbed about how much Hindi was involved.
3. Dev Patel, who had never lived in India prior to filming, only won the lead role after the original actor was considered too good-looking.
4. Q & A, the novel on which the film is based, is centered around a fictional game show; Slumdog, however, moved into the realm of the real Millionaire show once Celador, the owner of Millionaire, signed on as one of the film’s producers.
5. The first host of the Indian Millionaire was Amitabh Bachchan — the real-life actor whose autograph is sought in the film. Anil Kapoor, who plays the host in the movie, was once a celebrity contestant on the real-life show.
6. The word “slumdog” isn’t Hindi slang, but the screenwriter’s invention, unrecognizable to most actual Indians. The invention of “slumdog” has led to a defamation lawsuit and numerous protests. That said, the Indian media and Mumbai itself are generally thrilled with the film’s Oscar success.
7. Surprisingly, Slumdog is arguably not 2008’s best-reviewed film, although it was the best-reviewed of the five nominees. According to both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, the nation’s critics generally gave Wall-E, Man on Wire, and Waltz With Bashir higher praise, albeit in genres (animation, documentary, animation again) generally considered only in their own categories.
8. Ten-year-old Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, who played the role of Salim as a boy, and nine-year-old Rubina Ali, who played Latika as a young girl, were only brought to the awards when their parents agreed to allowed them to travel at the last minute. Despite the Slumdog director’s and producers’ presumably sincere interest in assuring their long-term welfare, Ismail and Ali are still living in squalor — Ismail under a tarpaulin he shares with his family, Ali in a shack next to an open sewer. Now that the awards have been handed out, both will presumably now return to the slum.