"Changing genres means trying to make my first film every time"
by Camillo de Marco
05/12/2008 - Both fairy tale and melodrama, Slumdog Millionaire [trailer, film focus] was shot mixing Bollywood style with the biting signature style of the director of Trainspotting. Cineuropa met up with Danny Boyle in Rome for the press screening of the film, which is being released today in Italy.
Cineuropa: How did you come across the book on which the film is based?
Danny Boyle: I read the screenplay before I read the book. I knew the show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? – who doesn’t? I thought to myself: what do I care about making a movie about a game show? But the script was by Simon Beaufoy, who wrote The Full Monty, a film I really loved, and it grabbed me immediately.
You went from science fiction, in Sunshine [trailer, film focus], to an urban fairy tale in Millionaire.
I think a director’s first film is always his best. Blood Simple is the Coen brothers’ best film, just like Sex, Lies and Videotape is Soderbergh’s best. When you make your first film you give the best of yourself. Many directors become stuck on a genre and end up always making similar movies. For me, changing genres means trying to make my first film every time.
What was it like to work in India?
In the collective imagination, only hippies go to India. I think of myself as a punk director. When we called Warner and Pathé to tell them that the first part of the film would be acted in Hindi by the young stars, they thought: here’s another guy who went to India and became a guru. He’ll bring us a film full of mysticism. Actually, India is a place that surprises and changes you, it’s a country of opposites. And if one embraces its contradictions one can truly appreciate it. I think I’ve become a better person for this experience.
In America, your film has won critical and public acclaim.
The film is having a lot of success in the US. Perhaps because it’s not just a story about money, but about love and redemption. A bit like Rocky. Hollywood is looking more and more to Bollywood, such as Spielberg. When we were shooting even Will Smith came to the country twice to sign film agreements.
The soundtrack is particularly strong, as in all of your films.
The music is by Allah Rakkhha Rahman, a very well known Indian composer, someone who has sold as much in his lifetime as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Walking around Mumbai with him is impossible, he stops traffic. Rahman changed how film music is made in India.
There is talk of numerous Oscar nominations.
That’s true. I don’t really know if the film will pick up any nominations, but I think it would be great just to be there. If we get only one nomination I’ll definitely be at the ceremony, sitting in the back row, enjoying the evening.